Most campgrounds at Bull Shoals Lake to open May 20
Bud Dalton spent a peaceful morning fishing on Bull Shoals Lake Monday.
"Gets you out of the house. Gets you away from home. Nothing else to do," Dalton said.
Dalton comes to the lake a couple times a week, but said it's been quiet without campers.
"It's hard on our towns. Hard on the motels. It's hard on the rest of businesses up in Lead Hill. It's hard on a lot of stuff," Dalton said.
But that's set to change next week.
Most campsites near Bull Shoals and Norfork Lakes open up on May 20. That's five days after state parks open more elements, too. But Chief Ranger Dylan Edwards said it's not going to be business as usual for Bull Shoals.
"It's going to look a little different on what some customers are seeing," Edwards said.
Swim beaches and day-use areas will remain closed.
And all campers will have to make a reservation online at Recreation.gov before getting a site.
Not all parks are on that system, though, so some parks will be closed for camping until they're on the system, like two parks on Norfork Lake and one on Bull Shoals. Go to www.swl.usace.army.mil to see if a campsite is open.
"Those customers of ours who are used to coming into a park, and stopping at the park booth, and making payment with our park attendants there, are going to see something a little bit different," Edwards said.
The chief ranger said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is encouraging people to social distance and wear masks if they are close to others.
"We've got more rain in the forecast, so we do anticipate the lakes to either hold the levels that they're at now or continue to rise," Edwards said.
And with rising water comes the risk that obstacles hidden underneath make what's been a quiet, safe distancing option, become a risk people will need to watch closely.
"We can't wait for folks to come out and enjoy the lake, but we want them to be safe while doing it," Edwards said.
Even though campgrounds should reopen on May 20, places like visitors' centers will remain closed. And there is no set date yet as to when those will reopen.