Dubuque-area parks and campgrounds open early - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque-area parks and campgrounds open early

Campers pack up from a weekend at Swiss Valley Park's campground Campers pack up from a weekend at Swiss Valley Park's campground

An unseasonably mild winter and warm spring has meant good news for campers and early openings for local parks.

On Sunday, Kevin Krause and his friends and family members packed up after a weekend spent at Swiss Valley Park's campground near Dubuque.

"There's something for everybody when you're camping," Krause said.

His family goes camping every first weekend in April to celebrate his daughter's late-March birthday. It's a tradition, however, that had an uncertain future at after flood waters last July wiped out the campground's 62 sites.

"We just wondered, it might take them a year or two to get it going again, you know, and, like I say, it's one of our favorite places to camp," Krause said. "We're happy to be here."

Thanks to mild weather, Dubuque County Conservation Board executive director Brian Preston and his crews were able to work throughout the fall and winter to get the campground in shape for spring.

"This whole entire area of the campground was covered with mud, rock and debris," Preston said Sunday, surveying Swiss Valley Campground and describing its post-flood state. "A lot of our roadway broke up. We had chunks of asphalt all over the park."

"We were able to complete a lot of the repairs in the parks, and the campground at Swiss Valley is open," Preston said. "We hope to turn the shower house and the water on this week. The long range forecast still looks good, with no frost or freezing, so we might as well go ahead and get that fired up."

Preston said the recent warm weather has caused a huge upswing in the number of campers and reservations.

"Our open date is usually April 15th, so we're well a month ahead of our official opening date," Preston said.

In the city of Dubuque, parks that are normally closed at this time opened this weekend, fully five weeks ahead of their typical May 5 opening. City officials did this because of the warm weather.

Miller Riverview Park is popular for its campground set along the Mississippi River. It doesn't open this year until April 15, but there is a change this year in the holiday camping reservation system.

Normally a first-come-first-served reservation system, this year, the city will hold a reservation lottery from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on April 14 at the Five Flags Center in Dubuque. The lottery is for Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day weekend campground reservations for Miller Riverview Park. For details, click HERE.

Camping at Dubuque County's seven campgrounds, however, is now open and reservations can be made online by clicking HERE.

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