Those longing to enjoy some time in the great outdoors will be glad to know that Summit Lake State Recreation Area, and several other sites around the area, are now open for camping.

According to the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, this decision is prompted by an overwhelming demand for camping opportunities. Summit and Pelican Point SRAs in Burt County as well as Dead Timber, Fremont Lakes and Memphis are among the 35 SRAs that opened May 22 to for all camping units, including tents.

The decision to expand camping opportunities is prompted, Game and Parks officials said, by overwhelming demand for camping opportunities, challenges in bringing additional park locations and campsites into the reservation system as planned and public comments regarding the desire to camp even without normal facilities, which will remain closed. Those include shower houses, designated swimming beaches, playgrounds and park activities. A limited number of primitive restrooms will be available.

“We made the earlier decision to allow limited RV camping, by reservation only, consistent with health directives that encourage limitations on crowd size and our current capacity to protect and serve the public,” Game and Parks Director Jim Douglas said. “We are pleased to be able to offer more opportunities on smaller park areas that typically attract less people. Busier areas such as Branched Oak Lake, Medicine Creek Reservoir and Lake McConaughy, which attract larger crowds, will retain RV camping by reservation only for the time being. As we continue to be able to add needed seasonal personnel and provide for facility maintenance, we will expand further opportunities while managing within the constraints of the ongoing health emergency.”

The prevailing health recommendations for social distancing and group sizes less than 10 to meet the state Directed Health Measures still apply. It’s incumbent upon park visitors to be responsible for their own actions to protect their health, the health of their community and that of other park users.

Summit’s 190-acre lake and the surrounding 345 acres of land offer camping, fishing and hiking. Other park facilities and activity areas will remain closed. Park regulations allow for up to eight people per campsite.

RV campers can choose from among 13 non-electrical pad sites and 30 electrical pad sites. A park entry permit is required and may be purchased at statewide NGPC offices and permit vendors. The cost for residents is $30 for an annual permit. Duplicate annual permits are available for $15 and daily permits for $6. Prices for pads range from $25 to $35 per night depending on amenities.

In addition to the City of Tekamah’s camper pads in Memorial Park and Beck Park in Decatur, Ridgeview RV Park in Tekamah is also open for business, said manager Darl Beck. They have 11 pads available and three more in the works. He said the park has been surprisingly busy.

“As long as it’s an enclosed camper there are no restriction,” Beck said. “There is enough space between pads for safety.”

Currently, Ridgeview is working on getting Wi-Fi established and will be upgrading the pads to concrete bases. Sites have 20/30 amp connections.

For more information about the Ridgeview park call 402-374-2000. For the online reservation system for state parks, go to OutdoorNebraska.gov/reservations.

Jon Burleson is the Midwest Messenger reporter, based out of eastern Nebraska. Reach him at jon.burleson@lee.net.