Manitoba campgrounds drying off, preparing for busy season

Manitobans’ odds of taking a camping trip over the next few weeks are going to depend on where they plan on going, with high water continuing to present issues in some places.

Several miles west of the Whiteshell at Whitemouth River Campground, owner Laurie Guyot says their sites situated on higher ground are perfectly fine, but seven spots nearer to the river are under water.

“We’ve been at this since 2018, and unfortunately this is our third flood, which has been abnormal. And of course (we) had the pandemic in there,” Guyot said.

“But, we’ve come to the realization: it is what it is, and it’s overland flooding, it’s not our homes. So we have to be grateful for that.”

Read more: Campers left frustrated despite changes to Manitoba’s online booking system

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On the positive side, Guyot says they’re almost completely booked for the entire season, and those who previously booked sites on the lower campground will be offered spots where it’s dry.

The ‘upper campground’ at Whitemouth River Campground near the Whiteshell is sitting high and dry. The ‘lower campground,’ however, isn’t so fortunate.
The ‘upper campground’ at Whitemouth River Campground near the Whiteshell is sitting high and dry. The ‘lower campground,’ however, isn’t so fortunate. Submitted / Laurie Guyot

If all goes according to plan, they expect to open on schedule May 14.

The town of Morden experienced severe overland flooding in recent weeks, with roads at one point looking more like rivers.

However the campground at nearby Lake Minnewasta sits on higher ground.

“It looks no different than any other season we’ve had pre-COVID,” campground manager Brian Thiessen said.

“It’s a little soggy from all the rain, but we’ve had a good drying trend this week, and we suspect that despite the rain in the forecast this will continue even next week.”

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Read more: Flooding forces closure at Manitoba-U.S. border crossing

The back-to-back Colorado Lows didn’t help the situation, though, with Thiessen saying they began the spring cleanup about two weeks later than normal.

Still, they too are expecting to open up on schedule next Friday.

It’s an entirely different situation at Prairie Oak Campground just north of Emerson.

Located near the banks of the swollen Red River, owner Kyle Wiebe says the campground itself it protected by a ring dyke, but they’ve lost road access.

A photo of the access road to Prairie Oak Campground near Emerson, Man. on May 3, 2022. Campground owner Kyle Wiebe says the road has since been completely submerged. Submitted / Kyle Wiebe
A photo of the south dyke at Prairie Oak Campground near Emerson, Man., showing the runoff from the Red River on the right, and the campground’s swimming pond and beach on the left. Submitted / Kyle Wiebe

“The forecast for the crest is still a day or two away, and then the water has to go down quite a bit because it has come up over the road by at least a foot and a half,” Wiebe said, adding at the moment they can only check on the site by boat.

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“So it’s got to come down quite a bit and then we can assess damage to the access road.”

Read more: Manitoba floods continue to wreak havoc on communities across the province

It’s still uncertain how long it may take for the water to recede, and then there’s the potential of having to repair the road, but Wiebe says they’re still looking at a busy season.

“We’ve got a large seasonal community in our campground and that’s booked up. We’ve got a wait list that people are welcome to call and get on,” Wiebe said.

“Weekend and weekdays on the overnight camping is filling up quickly as well … we’ve had a great response this year.”

Meanwhile, provincial campgrounds won’t begin opening up until next Friday.

The province’s website says some may have delayed opening dates or limited services because of overland flooding.

It says an update on closures will be posted on its website Tuesday, May 10, and anyone who booked a campsite that’s now under water will be notified.

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Manitoba’s ‘staycation’ incentive program is back for 2022

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