New campsites open at Willow River State Park near Hudson
Over the last few years, Willow River State Park has consistently had one of the highest turn-away rates in the state of Wisconsin, meaning that the park fills up all of its campsites and is forced to turn back potential campers.
To remedy this problem Willow River received funding eight years ago to expand the campground by constructing 80 new campsites in the park which would bring the total number of sites to 150.
It took until the fall of 2008 for construction to begin, but this spring 50 of the 80 new campsites are ready for campers. The other 30 campsites will be available for use next spring after a little more work is done on the sites and once the grass areas have had about a year's worth of growth.
"I think it turned out really well," said Park Manager Darrel Richer, "I am looking forward to seeing more wooded areas when all the trees have grown. A big part of the expansion project was tree planting."
Some sites are larger than others to allow for larger trailers and campers, but there are still sites for those people who want to pitch a tent.
With the addition of these new campgrounds, the park's percentage of electrical sites has increased. Of all the campsites in Wisconsin, thirty percent of them are now electrical.
"There is a much higher demand for electrical sites than ever before," Richer explains. "Most people think that campgrounds should provide primitive sites. But campers have changed and have become more modern."
Richer goes on to say that electricity may become a larger part of camping in the future and campgrounds have to accommodate those people in order to keep up with the times.
"Society as a whole is not going camping as much as they used to," Richer said. "The percentage of people who go camping has gone down over the years, which is another sign that campgrounds need to adapt to the times."
The 50 new campsites, which were opened along with the existing campsites three weeks ago, will be 100-150, the 30 campsites that will be finished next spring will be sites 200-230 and the existing campsites will be sites 301-370.
The road around the new campsites goes in a clockwise pattern rather than the counterclockwise pattern that the existing sites use. This allows campers to have easier access to their spots and allows for some locations to have drive through driveways to make it easier to get in and out.
Existing sites that were previously quite crowded were removed and most of the RV parking is now gone.
A little over a month ago the campground opened the new sites and are now available for reservation on the parks Web site.
"We are coming really close to getting everything in place," Richer said. "We are adding a new bridge downstream of the picnic area to make use of more of the park on the other side of the lake. But there will only be trails added to the other side of the lake."
The first week the campgrounds were open, around three fourths of the campsites were being used, but the park was booked solid over the weekend for Memorial Day.