Area parks are ready for holiday visitors

Jordan Lake Superintendent: 'Memorial Day is one of our biggest days'
May. 23, 2014 @ 05:03 AM

With Memorial Day weekend right around the corner, parks throughout the region are gearing up for big holiday crowds.

"Memorial Day is one of our biggest days," said Superintendent Shedrick Mole of the Jordan Lake State Recreation Area in Apex. "We have approximately 1,100 campsites at Jordan, and every single campsite will be filled this weekend."

Mole said the park's beaches at the Ebenezer Church, Seaforth, Parker's Creek and White Oak recreation areas will fill up quickly on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and visitors should arrive early to guarantee a spot.

"Typically, on busy holidays, once our day areas fill up," Mole said, "we cone off the park entrance so we don't get to an unsafe level."

Day passes for Jordan Lake are $6 for regular vehicles and $15 for vans and buses. All four beaches will be open, and life jackets will be available to borrow for anyone who needs one.

Mole expects a lot of swimming and boating over the weekend and urges guests to take the proper precautions.

He said, "Be safe when you're swimming. Swim with a buddy. Wear a life jacket. We don't want any water-based accidents this weekend."

Jeff Davidson, superintendent of Raven Rock State Park in Lillington, also expects a large turnout this weekend. He said Raven Rock staff have been checking the park's eight miles of horse trails and 12 miles of hiking trails all week to make sure everything is open and in good condition for the holiday.

"Most Memorial Day weekends, we're pretty stacked," Davidson said. "We've been running out of parking. We will park people down the road if need be. We try to accommodate everyone."

Hiking, picnicking and canoing are the most popular Memorial Day activities at Raven Rock, according to Davidson. He recommended avoiding swimming in the Cape Fear River due to high water levels and strong currents, but said conditions for canoing would be perfect. He said guests should prepare for hot weather and bring plenty of water to stay hydrated.

"We'll be on full staff this weekend," Davidson said. "We're ready to go. We're just waiting for folks to show up."

In Sanford, Park Ranger Steve Godfrey and his staff at San-Lee Park are also working to get ready for the weekend.

"We've all worked pretty hard on our trails," he said. "Especially our hiking trails. Our bike trail is in great shape, too. It's dry and ready to run."

Godfrey said they are also performing maintenance on the fishing rods and reels the park provides as part of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission's Tackle Loaner Program, which allows park users to rent fishing equipment.

"Sometimes, when people return the equipment, it'll be missing a hook or something," Godfrey said. "We keep them maintained so that, when you come in to get one, it's already good to go."

Godfrey said the park's regular and overflow lots were filled last weekend, and he expects even more people to show up for Memorial Day. He said fishing, picnicking and hiking will be the biggest draws.

The park has 10 campsites and an RV lot capable of holding six vehicles, all of which are first-come, first-serve.

"It's going to be busy," Godfrey said. "But the park is big enough, with enough trails and stuff, where you can still get away from people and have some space."