Summer in North Dakota is the time when campers like to get away and spend a weekend under the stars.
This year’s heat may have deterred some, but how many of those campers were willing to beat the heat?
2021 was a record-setting year for Bismarck Parks and Rec, with campers coming in from all over the state.
Martha Willand, the General Sibley Park Facilities Specialist, said, “We get a lot of people from Minot and Dickinson as well.
Many Canadians usually camp in the Bismarck area as well, but with border restrictions still in place, that has been at a standstill.
Willard says that the pandemic caused many to feel “cabin fever” and purchase a camper to scratch that itch of being in the great outdoors, so much in fact, that most weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day require a waiting list.
The triple-digit temperatures of this summer may have caused some cancellations, but Willand said, “we’ve had just as many enthusiastic and eager campers to fill those spots.”
How does this compare to the rest of the state’s campgrounds?
Paul Taylor, Interim Director of ND Parks & Rec, said, “We’ve had a great year, actually. Our figures for May, June, and July so far have easily been 8% above 2020.”
Taylor says that this is also a record-setting year, even in the absence of Canadians in the popular Pembina Gorge and Icelandic State Parks.
North Dakota campgrounds normally open up 10 days before Memorial Day for Canadians to celebrate Victoria Day, but this year, it was a quiet 10 days.
Other parks across the state are expanding beyond summer fun.
“We have cabins, of various sorts, yurts. And some of these are all season, and so we are moving the park system to a four-season destination,” said Taylor.
North Dakota parks have become such a prime destination that an ND Passport for state parks has been created and flying off the shelves.
Several events are coming to General Sibley Campground in Bismarck, including a movie in the park in September, and a luminary walk in October.