Unseasonably warm weather has people in the camping mood a little early this year in South Dakota. And with 80 degree days in March, campers have already been spending their weekends in the parks.

Campgrounds in southeastern South Dakota are seeing large increases in the number of campers compared to previous years.

“In 11 years at the park, I have never seen a busier March,” said Shane Bertsch, park supervisor at Lewis and Clark Recreation Area in Yankton. “We usually get a couple of campers in early spring, but we had over 50 campsites filled last weekend. That’s unheard of.”

Nice weather is allowing state parks to open comfort stations and dump stations earlier this year. Many have already opened, drawing in more campers.

According to Bertsch, comfort stations usually don’t open until the first or second week in April at Lewis & Clark Recreation Area, and not until May at other parks.

Camping at state park and recreation areas in South Dakota is open year-round. Although comfort stations are closed in the winter, campsite electricity is on all year. Camping is available on a first-come, first-served basis until May 18, when campsites can be reserved.

Reservations for the summer camping season can be made 90 days prior to arrival online at www.campsd.com or by calling 1-800-710-2267.

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