It may seem a bit early to get out the camping equipment, but that’s exactly what many people are doing this year in South Dakota.
“We’ve seen visitors from Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Colorado,” Custer State Park Campground Manager Lance Catron told KELO-TV, Sioux Falls.
And Michigan, where campers Faye Miller and Stan Cerny hail from.
“As soon as the weather permits, we’re out. So the weather was nice early so we’re out early,” Miller said.
“It still gets chilly. We don’t care as long as the sun comes out during the day, it’s fine,” Cerny said.
“With the perfect weather that we’ve had in March, the reasonable temperatures have helped us out tremendously,” Catron said.
And while Custer State Park rented three times as many camping sites this March as they did last, the numbers for the entire state are even greater. Statewide, South Dakota’s state campsites saw a 388% increase.
But the weather isn’t the only thing bringing these campers out.
“I went to Alaska, and you saw caribou, but you didn’t hardly see any animals. We’ve seen more animals in two days than we saw in Alaska in two weeks,” Cerny said.
“To have it in the park with you is even more surprising. You wake up and see the tails going across the park, and it’s like, ‘Wow,’” Miller said.
If the weather continues to wow park visitors, Catron is hopeful that these numbers will continue to increase.
“If everything holds true, we’ll have one of the best camping seasons we’ve ever had here in Custer State Park,” Catron said.
State parks are well on their way to breaking more records. Campground reservations are up 15% at Custer State Park compared to this time last year.