GUERNSEY – Wyoming’s public campgrounds were closed as a part of Governor Mark Gordon’s COVID-19 precautions, but they’re scheduled to reopen May 15 – just in time for the peak season at Wyoming’s state parks.
Chris Delay, Superintendent at Guernsey State Park, said the park is in the process of hiring seasonal workers for the season, and he’s excited to see tents and campers working their way around the park once again.
“I feel like it will be a good thing to get these sites filled up,” he said. “That is what we’re in business for, providing camping. Right now, we’re usually slow during this time of the year anyway because school is in session, so we’re not that far away from normal right now. Our day use activity is definitely higher than normal, so we’re actually busier now than what we are most Mays.”
Sites are available by reservation only, and out-of-state campers are prohibited. On Thursday, Gordon announced the state would be cancelling all reservations throughout the summer from out-of-state campers.
The reservation system, which requires campers to pay a reservation fee, has been a sore spot for some, but Gordon said Thursday the system is intended to make it safer for Wyoming residents.
“I recognize there has been some concern to a reservation requirement for camping,” Gordon said. “I want to explain this is being done so we can reopen camping more quickly and we can make it safer for our Wyoming citizens by facilitating social distancing and prohibiting access from out-of-state campers
“You will still have the ability to go camping at the last minute at our state campgrounds, and reserve an available spot when you go to the park. You can also reserve any available spot on the website on the way there.”
Gordon said the reservation system was implemented to make things easier for campers, and to guarantee they have a spot. It also plays a role in screening campers from potential COVID-19 hotspots.
“What we are trying to implement is a good system that is easy to use,” Gordon said. “People can sign up and reserve a spot before they go. It allows us to screen. We want to encourage people in Wyoming to enjoy our state parks for camping purposes. We’re a little less eager to have out-of-state campers coming in.
“This is a great way to make that experience better for people. It’s new, I understand that, but it is a great way for us to make sure people don’t waste their time getting to a camping spot. We’re trying to make this as flexible as we can.”
Locally, Delay said about half of the GSP sites are on the electronic reservation system, and park staff is working to add more sites from GSP, as well as Hawk Springs State Recreational Area, which he also oversees.
“We are preparing,” he said. “About half of our sites are currently under the reservation system, and we are working on getting the rest of the campsites under the reservation system.”