Campgrounds expect low turnout for Memorial Day weekend

By: Jenn Schanz

Memorial weekend at Branched Oak Lake last year was packed, crowded with nonstop camping action.

That's what kiosk worker Kile Willet says. This year, he's not so sure.

With a weather forecast predicting rain and high gas prices, Branched Oak Lake is prepared for a slow weekend.

For drivers hauling boats especially, Willet is expecting a low turnout.

“If they don't have a fuel efficient car, they can't pull a boat behind that,” he says.

Loyal camper Paul Kalisek has camped in the same area at Branched Oak for forty years. He'd never miss.

But this spring, it cost him over a hundred dollars just to fill up his Winnebago, so this year he left his boat at home.

A campsite at Branched Oak is under ten dollars a night, but Kalisek thinks more expensive Memorial Day weekend trips might take a back seat to staying home.

“With the economy not being back up to where it needs to be, there's a lot of stay [home] vacations. Maybe do a little bit more grilling in the back yard instead of spending one to two hundred [dollars] to go somewhere.”

Kalisek's advice for campers is to always plan ahead.

“Budget for it, make sure you save up money to get your camping supplies, fuel. Buy it early because the holiday's coming, gas prices always go up.Sso you need to think about that before the holiday gets here. Own a lot of gas cans, stock up early,” he advices.

Branched Oak Lake officials say it's rare they'd still have reservation spots open at this time, so for those willing to splurge on gas and face the rain, they've got room.