April 21, 2024

Campgrounds, beaches cautiously reopening

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by C. A. Ray, Editor

Elbow Lake’s Tipsinah Mounds Campground and Fairhaven Beach will be opening… cautiously, after June 1, but camping and swimming will be a very different experience in this era of COVID-19. Tipsinah Mounds has 40 tent-type campsites and while the seasonal sites have been in use most of May, the state is now allowing tent, or weekend camping… with restrictions.

According to State guidelines, campgrounds and beaches are allowed to open, but restrooms will be single occupancy only, facial coverings are strongly encouraged and social distancing is required, but has to be voluntary. Signs are going up all over the park reminding campers to respect social distancing, and wear fabric face coverings.

The restrooms/showers at Tipsinah Mounds Campground will have locks installed that indicate when they are occupied, and the city has ordered two new port-a-potties that will be placed alongside for people to use when the restsrooms are occupied. There will be paper towel dispensers outside and inside so people do not have to touch the doorknobs, and there will be a sign stating when and how often the restrooms are cleaned. The campground store will remain closed at this time.

Fairhaven will not have its floating dock out, and Tipsinah Mounds Campground beach will have no floating raft out. But both beaches will have swimming area rope and buoy out. Neither beach has lifeguards.

The Tipsinah Mounds Campground fishing pier is out and in use, but is not being disinfected. The playground at Tips is currently closed, but the City of Elbow Lake is contacting the League of Minnesota Cities to see what can be used or not. For instance, the basketball courts and volleyball courts are open, but are supposed to have no more that ten people using them at once.

Campground manager Miah Ulrich said the campground is taking reservations now for weekend campers, but campers are warned that the Governor could close campgrounds if the pandemic gets worse.

The Hoffman City Council met last Thursday and, based on the recommendations of Elk Lake Campground Manager Tina McGrath and Parks and Recreation Director Mike McLaughlin, will be opening Elk Lake Beach on Friday, June 5. There will be lifeguards, docks and port-a-potties that will be cleaned once a week. 

“We will have signage encouraging social distancing and the use of facial covering”, said City Clerk Janee Strunk.

She mentioned that the council is a bit worried that if the Alexandria beaches close, Elk Lake Beach may be overrun with people.

“The lifeguards will just have to keep an eye on things.”

Elk Lake Campground opens for tent and overnight camping on Monday, June 1. The restroom/showers will be closed and port-a-potties will be brought in. The playground will be open but cannot be sanitized, so kids will play at their own risk.

“We will just have to see how it goes,” said Strunk. “Hopefully parents will keep an eye on their kids.”

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