Camping crunch at local state parks ahead of Memorial Day weekend

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — A sunny forecast is in store for Memorial Day weekend, and during the COVID-19 pandemic many continue to take advantage of getting outdoors — that includes trips to local state parks.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department experienced an influx of visitors in 2020 during the height of the pandemic and those trends continue. Reservations to camp overnight and day passes are filling up fast at several state parks. Officials report multi-day overnight camping reservations at a state park within a 200-mile radius of Austin are booked up.

“There are a few parks around the state that do have some availability, but in general they are pretty much booked for camping,” said Thomas Wilhelm, the marketing and branding manager at Texas State Parks for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Wilhelm said that could change if someone cancels their reservation. However, for the most part, reservations are booked and day passes are filling up.

“It does get overwhelming when we’re full all the time and you have people that still want to visit and can’t get in so they’re frustrated and fortunately we share that frustration because we would love to have everybody in the park as often as they want it’s just there’s only so much supply,” Wilhelm said.

In March, officials decided to reopen parks to 100% capacity, removing the COVID-19 capacity restrictions. However, officials continue to operate at a capacity that protects state parks and provides visitors with an enjoyable experience. Those numbers vary from park to park.

Day pass reservations can be made 30 days in advance. At last check, day passes for Saturday and Sunday at Enchanted Rock and Pedernales Falls State Park were booked. McKinney Falls State Park, Blanco State Park, Bastrop State Park, Inks Lake State Park and Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site, just to name a few, had day passes available for the weekend at various times. You can reserve a spot for camping and day passes online.

“Holiday weekends you probably should make a reservation so you don’t get turned away,” Wilhelm said.

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