This weekend, campers and beachgoers are flocking to state parks and campgrounds to enjoy one last time in the great outdoors before the seasons end.
And St. Lawrence County is proving once again its a popular getaway, with the number of visitors to its state parks up across the board and some campground directors expecting to be at capacity by the middle of the weekend.
Even without the campgrounds at full capacity, they remain a draw for both residents of St. Lawrence County and tourists traveling from outside the area.
Pamera A. Giannino, Union Springs, was camping at Coles Creek, Waddington, with her husband, Ronald P., two daughters and a granddaughter, as well as employees of a restaurant the family owns.
We own the Be Happy Cafe in Union Springs and bring all our employees with us, Mrs. Giannino said. We havent been here in three years because we did cabins for a while, but this year we decided to do camping again.
She said Coles Creek has a little more sentimental value than most other parks or campgrounds.
My husband and I have been married 30 years, and we came here the first year we were married, she said. We love the beach, the camping, and we always go down and visit the locks.
That was especially exciting this year as her 4-year-old granddaughter, Marissa A. House, was along for the trip.
Its beautiful up here, and theres cool nights to sleep, Mrs. Giannino said, adding that they arrived at Coles Creek on Sunday and will be returning home Monday afternoon.
Not everyone who camps in St. Lawrence Countys parks comes from out of town. Jessica L. Mayette and her sister-in-law Macenzie Curran, both of Waddington, are camping at Robert Moses State Park, Massena, this weekend.
We go every holiday and usually a couple of other times, Ms. Mayette said. We come here. We go to Coles Creek, Higley, Eel Weir, Fish Creek and a couple others.
Ms. Mayette said they arrived Wednesday and will be leaving Sunday. Her camping party also includes her children, her parents and her sister-in-laws children.
Its very quiet and peaceful, she said. The kids love riding their bikes, and they can go down to the basketball courts.
The parks location, just outside of Massena, is also a plus.
Its close to everything. If you forget something at home, you can go to Walmart, she said. Hannaford is right here, too.
With good weather in store, the park system is expecting a busy Labor Day weekend throughout the state, with more than 90 percent of the systems campsites booked in advance. Many of the countys state campgrounds are already close to capacity: Higley Flow, South Colton, is at 100 percent, Jacques Cartier State Park, Morristown, is at 85 percent, Coles Creek is at 82 percent and Robert Moses is at 78 percent. Eel Weir, town of Oswegatchie, reported being at half capacity for its 34 sites and expects to be at three-quarters capacity by the middle of the weekend, campground maintenance supervisor Thomas S. Rogers said.
Within the state, parks are seeing an overall increase in visitors on average. According to the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, 4.37 million people visited the 178 state parks and historic sites from Jan. 1 through the last weekend of August, a 2.3 million increase in visits over 2011.
The weathers been great for us, Higley Flow State Park Superintendent Henry E. Sieg said.