Platte rec area sees visitor increase
PLATTE -- Weather and walleye fishing are bringing more campers to South Dakota's state parks.
Snake Creek, a state Game, Fish and Parks campground and recreation area about eight miles southwest of Platte, is seeing a boost in revenue.
Snake Creek District Manager Dave Enke said the park's camping is up 7.7 percent in this year's first six months compared to last year. The facility sold 4,200 camping permits through June this year, compared to 3,900 by the same time a year ago.
"A lot of the revenue can be contributed to the beautiful spring and summer we have had this year," Enke said. "If you look around, everything is still green and lush, which was certainly not the case last year."
Across South Dakota, state parks and recreation areas have generated nearly 5 percent more revenue through June than they did for the first six months of last year.
Statewide, camping permits are up 9 percent through June. This year, the state has sold 115,000 permits through June, a jump of 9,000 permits over the same time last year.
Enke also manages two other modern campground areas, Platte Creek Recreation Area and Buryanek Recreation Area, both of which are along the Missouri River's Lake Francis Case. Enke has been busy keeping facilities functional and attractive to visitors to keep revenue numbers growing.
"Last year with the drought, we stopped mowing by the third week of June," he said, "and this year we are still mowing every week."
Snake Creek just installed new camping cabins, which fit four people and have air-conditioning and heating. Enke said it provides more options than just the traditional tent campsite or ground for a camper.
Good fishing on the Missouri has helped attract more campers to sites, according to Enke.
Dudley and Nancy Nelson, of Scotland, S.D., visited Snake Creek Recreation Area earlier this month to do some fishing and spend the evening in a cabin.
"The fishing is what attracts me to Snake Creek, because it is some of the best walleye fishing around," Dudley said. "My wife Nancy and I just retired, so we are trying to enjoy the outdoors and spend time fishing and camping. The cabins give us the option to bring our boat out for the day and have a nice place to stay."
The Nelsons, who caught walleye and bass on their trip, plan on spending most of their retired time enjoying the outdoors of South Dakota.
The strong fishing this year is one of the biggest reasons for revenue increase at state parks, said GF&P Director of Parks and Recreation Doug Hofer.
"I think other areas along the Missouri River have increase in revenue just because the fishing has been phenomenal," Hofer said. "North Point Recreation has seen some of the best fishing in years."
North Point, located near Pickstown, is up 37 percent on camping permit sales compared to 2012. In 2012, North Point Recreation Area sold 2,700 camping permits through June, compared to 3,700 in 2013 for single-night camping sites.
"One of the huge factors that revenue is up this year statewide is we raised the annual park entrance permits from $28 in 2012 to $30 in 2013," Hofer said. "We still have two of our biggest months of the year in front of us. As far as use of the state parks system, summer is just beginning."
According to Hofer, weather will play a strong part if there is record-breaking revenue for the state park systems.
"If we have good weather, I can almost assure you we will have a record breaking year."