Campers Stay Close to Home and Save Cash

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Local families searching for a Labor Day get-away don't have to look much further than home.

At the Coon Fork Lake County Park campground, dozens of campers are taking advantage of the beautiful weather and a cheap vacation alternative.

For the Colonna family, going anywhere with eight people on the high gas prices these days can be a hassle.

"A few weeks ago, we went to Heidi's, my wife's, folks cabin up in Minocqua, and I think we spent close to $150 in gas, because we need two vehicles to get up there," says Dominic Colonna.

So to get away this weekend, the Eau Claire family chose the nearby campground in Augusta.

"We're only looking at tens of dollars of gas to get up here,” says Dominic.

His wife, Heidi, agrees: "It would have definitely been more expensive to go farther away."

The Colonnas say it's really not costing much to sleep under the stars.

"Between the food, we had to pick up a few different camping things, probably 500 to 600 dollars," Heidi estimates. If it’s broken down, it comes out to around 70 dollars a person.

Park rangers say many other families are taking advantage of this cost-friendly way to get closer to nature. All of the 108 campsites at the park were booked by Friday morning, which is on par for most holiday weekends.

But rangers say this season's total attendance seems to be on the rise, and many of the visitors are local, like the Colonnas.

"The kids wanted to go camping, it was the end of the season, so we thought let's get them out here before it gets cold," says Dominic.

And the Colonnas will get their bonding time, for a price that won't bind their budget.

"We're really looking forward to having a good time,” says Heidi.

The Colonnas say so far, they have had a good time, because the weather held out. They say another perk of choosing a closer campground: They can head home if it starts to rain and the kids get cranky.