Prepping the park

Some new additions and changes at Garvin Park will help serve park visitors

Some new changes are coming to Garvin Park this spring and summer, including updates to the park’s upper campground. Construction of a new shower and restroom facility at the upper campground started last fall.

With the snowy weather Minnesota’s been having over the past month or so, it might not feel like spring. But the start of both the turkey hunting season and the camping season at Lyon County’s Garvin Park are just around the corner. And this year, there are a number of changes coming for the park, with the goal of serving visitors better.

The park is a popular weekend destination for campers, said Roger Schroeder, Lyon County environmental administrator.

“For the most part, it’s full every weekend,” Schroeder said. Last season, some of the only exceptions were days when it was especially hot outside.

Some physical changes have been planned at Garvin Park to help improve campers’ experiences, Schroeder said. Other changes, like changes in how campsite reservations are booked, should help streamline the process for visitors and parks staff alike.

“The biggest change with Garvin Park is our upper campground,” Schroeder said. A construction project started last fall is adding a new shower and restroom facility to the campground. “That, we hope to have done by Memorial Day weekend.”

Schroeder said the shower building structure was started in the fall, and now the work is focused on finishing the interior.

The upper campground has also undergone some changes to better accommodate campers. The loop road at the campground was made smaller, which allows for expanded camping pads, Schroeder said. Tree and branch trimming done at the park should also make it easier for larger vehicles to come to the campsites, he said.

“We’re hoping that accommodates more people,” he said.

Some other construction projects are planned for the park this year. A new footbridge leading to the park’s River Shelter has been installed, and additional work will be done to put in the planks of the bridge and build up approaches to the bridge, Schroeder said. Garvin Park’s horse camp will also get some updates over the spring and summer, including additional camping pads and a water hydrant.

A different way to make reservations

Schroeder said Lyon County will be moving ahead this year with a different way to reserve campsites at Garvin Park.

“It was two or three years ago that we started doing reservations,” Schroeder said, but the process wasn’t very efficient for county staff. Earlier this spring, the Lyon County Board gave its approval for the parks to subscribe to reservation software.

“We are moving forward with reservations,” Schroeder said. When the system is up and running, campers will be able to make campsite reservations and payments online, through the ReserveAmerica website.

“We’re hoping that it’s done by the first weekend of May,” Schroeder said. “Hopefully, this streamlines it for the user, too.”

Five campsites in each loop at Garvin Park will be reservable, Schroeder said. Another change this year is that camping fees have increased, to $20 per night.

“It still puts us at or below a lot of county parks,” Schroeder said.

Sharing the park

Garvin Park is open to spring turkey hunting, but this year there have been some changes to the kind of hunting permitted, which will help keep the park open to both hunters and other visitors. This spring, the Lyon County Board voted to allow shotgun turkey hunting in the park during Minnesota DNR seasons A and B, which run from April 18-24 and April 25-May 1. Shotgun hunting will be allowed from a half hour before sunrise until noon. The park will be closed until noon to accommodate hunting.

During the DNR’s C, D, and E turkey hunting seasons, which run from May 2-22, only archery hunting will be allowed, and the park will be open to all recreation. All turkey hunters must obtain a permit from Lyon County parks staff, as well as a valid DNR license.

Schroeder said last year, Garvin Park had a total of 12 turkey hunters.

So far, he said, he had gotten some positive responses about the new hunting arrangements.

“People like that we’re keeping (the park) open,” Schroeder said. It gives people more of a chance to enjoy the park for recreation in May, while still making it available for hunters.

Snowstorms in March and April have made it harder to get started on some of the work to prepare the park for spring and summer visitors. However, Schroeder said, parks maintenance supervisor Spencer Kor and parks staff were eager to get things ready.