CANYON LAKE — Campers will soon have a new spot to set up at in Comal County.
In a few weeks, Cranes Mill Park in northwest Canyon Lake will re-open after more than two years of modernization efforts. The 80-acre, once-primitive park will feature 30 RV sites with electrical and water hook-ups, 34 campsites, new bathrooms, a fishing pier and paved roadways.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers closed the park in October 2009 and has since been working to modernize it to allow for RV usage. Marcus Schimank, the Corps’ Canyon Lake manager, said the project is now nearly finished and anticipates an opening later this month or early March.
“We’re about 99 percent complete,” Schimank said. “We just need to finish a few minor things, like installing a guard rail at the fishing pier and placing signs up around the park.”
Cranes Mill Park was built in the 1960s. It took $3.7 million to transform it from the area that featured wide fields of grass, cacti, an occasional park bench and rusty awnings, Schimank said. While the flora largely remains as it was, greater access and amenities for visitors have been installed throughout, allowing for a better recreational experience for a wider range of campers.
“There wasn’t exactly much here before — it was pretty dilapidated,” Schimank said. “The Corps identified this park a good place to work on modernizing.”
Of the money spent, 83 percent was paid for by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 — the $787 billion stimulus package aimed to create work opportunities during the recession. Schimank said without the stimulus money, the modernization project would likely have never happened.
Since its closing, park staff said many campers have been anxiously anticipating its reopening.
“A lot of people have been asking about it,” Cranes Mill gatekeeper Don Midtling said. “A lot has changed around here, especially over the past year, and people and campers seem to be excited about it.”
Fellow gatekeeper Bob Johnson said the transformation over the past two years has been truly dramatic.
“It’s amazing out here now,” Johnson said. “Just even a year ago when you look around — it’s so different.”
It will cost $24 a night to camp at the RV sites; $18 at the campsites.
Once the park opens, Schimank said tent and RV spots will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. However, he said, the park will eventually allow reservations for up to 60 percent of the park spots.
Go to the federal recreation website at recreation.gov, or call 1-877-444-6777 for Canyon Lake camping reservation information.