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Campers stay close to home as gas price soars

Category: UNSPECIFIED
Source: Omaha World Herald
Publish Date: Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Summary: A rainy start didn't deter campers at Chadron State Park over the weekend. Camper registrations were more than 10 percent higher than during the same weekend last year.

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A rainy start didn't deter campers at Chadron State Park over the weekend.

The cabins at the northwest Nebraska park were full, as they always are on Memorial Day weekend.

Camper registrations were more than 10 percent higher than during the same weekend last year.

And people were riding horses, using the paddleboats and riding around on their ATVs.

But high gas prices appeared to make the campsites more attractive for locals, said park superintendent Dave Kinnamon.

"We had a lot of locals," Kinnamon said. "Most of our cabins were travelers from Iowa, Colorado, Wyoming. But the campers were mostly from within 100 miles - Alliance, Chadron, the Valentine area, and some from South Dakota."

It's a trend that he said is likely to continue over the summer.

"With these gas prices, I don't believe we're going to draw people from a long way away," he said. "It costs quite a bit to fill up."

The same was true at Black Hawk State Park in Lake View, Iowa, where 120 of 128 camping sites were filled.

Park ranger Eric Haakenson said the park - about 80 miles east of Sioux City - normally draws a lot of campers from Omaha and Sioux Falls.

"Our turnout this year was more people within about four counties of us," he said. "A lot of people said they were going to be camping closer to home this year."

Platte River State Park near Louisville, Neb., didn't see much difference in turnout, even with heavy rain and winds that blew through Sunday evening.

Park superintendent Roger Sykes is hoping the park's location, between the state's two most populous areas, will keep it somewhat immune to high gas prices. He said that he hopes the park will be a draw for day-trippers from Omaha and Lincoln all summer long.

Sykes described Sunday's storms as a "bit of a nuisance," but he said the area always tends to get a little rain and little heat on Memorial Day.

"If you're in the park business," he said, "you try to enjoy yourselves no matter what the weather."

? Contact the writer: 444-1069, nichole.aksamit@owh.com


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