Renovation of Emerson Bay campground nears completion

Saturday, November 10, 2012
Construction made areas of Emerson Bay State Recreation Area unavailable during the 2012 summer camping season. State officials say a new and improved campground will be open in the spring of 2013.

A makeover for one of the Iowa Great Lakes' most popular campgrounds is nearly done.

Emerson Bay State Recreation Area on the west side of West Lake Okoboji will be available for campers to use in the spring of 2013. The $640,000 construction effort began in June and led to the closure of the campground for the entire summer and fall.

Frank Rickerl, the Northwest District State Parks Supervisor for the Iowa DNR, suggests the Emerson Bay experience will be much better next year.

"We were always experiencing electrical issues in the campground," he said. "Sewer and water issues; it was very outdated. It was time to do something and the money was available."

The campground has fewer campsites now, but upgrades increased the number of electrical sites from 60 to 82. Twenty-three of those sites will have sewer and water connections as part of the new and improved Emerson Bay layout.

"We put in all new electrical service (from 30 amp to 50 amp), new campsites with gravel paths, and we re-did the sewer and the water system," Rickerl said.

The DNR supervisor was pleased with how well the project went; construction took about five months to complete.

"We had a good construction season," Rickerl said. "It was really dry, and we were able to get a lot of work done."

The old restroom and shower facility was re-modeled as well. The new campsites have new camping pads, fire rings and are larger and more level than the old ones. Each site will now have a gravel living space for nature enthusiasts to enjoy.

"It's going to give them a lot more quality camping experience," Rickerl said. "Before, the sites were packed in there so tight that you were almost bumping into your neighbor every time you walked out of your camper. Now, we have been able to spread the sites out and give people a lot more room and I think it will be a lot more enjoyable."

Rickerl said the DNR hopes to work on similar projects at either Gull Point State Park or Marble Beach.

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