Travel experts predict most area Labor Day vacationers will stay close to home this weekend. With that in mind, county officials said, you can expect a larger crowd at the lake.
Charlie Beale, the county's recreation manager, said Wildwood Park and its 64 campsites will be occupied this weekend.
"It will be full. It will be a typical Labor Day and the weather is going to be great," he said. Temperatures will be in the upper 80s and lows in the 60s. "It will be great for camping."
For the most part, visitors to Wildwood Park are local residents, he said.
"We do draw some from Lincoln (County) and some from Richmond (County), but the majority are from Columbia County."
Beale could not provide an estimate of day-use visitors, but large crowds were expected for the county fireworks Saturday. He said the park's "mega" boat ramps will be crowded in the early mornings with anglers and in the afternoons with leisure boaters and personal watercraft riders.
Judy Reville, the manager for the Augusta AAA office, said the motor club expects that most travelers will choose to stay within a few hours of home this weekend.
"I think with the long weekend and the fact that children are back in school, most of the families are staying close to home for the long weekend for the last trip to the beach or the lake before it cools off," she said. Reville said gas prices are less of a factor than the limited three-day period for travel.
At Mistletoe State Park in Winfield community north of Appling, manager Bill Tinley said, all 92 campsites and 10 cottages have been reserved for the weekend. He said 2,500 to 3,000 day-use visitors and campers will visit the park this weekend.
"They're getting their last hoorah in before settling down for college football," Tinley said. Most visitors to Mistletoe come from areas outside a 10-mile radius, he said, with many coming from Savannah and Augusta.
Highway drivers should use caution, according to the Georgia State Patrol. State officials are predicting 1,897 wrecks, 995 injuries and 18 deaths on Georgia roads between 6 p.m. Friday and midnight Tuesday, according to a state news release.
County offices, schools, state and federal offices and post offices will be closed Monday.
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