All campsites at Minnesota state parks soon will be available for advance reservations under changes the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced Friday.
The changes in the state’s campsite reservation system will be phased in beginning May 3, said Erika Rivers, director of the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division.
In the past, about one-fourth of state park campsites were not available for advance reservation and could be claimed only by walk-in guests on a first-come, first-served basis. That often led to hopeful campers arriving at parks early in the day and then waiting to see if campsites became available at midday.
“What we’re really offering is convenience and certainty to our customers,” said Phil Leversedge, assistant director of the Parks and Trails Division.
In other changes to be rolled out starting in May, same-day reservations also will be available to campers. Currently, the cut-off for making reservations is midnight the night before arrival day. Under the new system, if a campsite is available, campers will be able to book it either online or at a self-service kiosk right in the park. With same-day reservations, campers avoid reservation fees of $8.50 to $10.
Also, state parks and recreation areas will phase in improved registration and orientation systems, allowing self-service registration. All of these changes will begin to take effect in early May with a goal of having changes made at all state parks by the end of the summer. Technology infrastructure needs to be upgraded at some parks before new systems can be put in place, DNR officials said.
The new reservation system will be accessible by smartphone without an app simply by visiting the reservation website, officials said. State park reservations can be made at mndnr.gov/reservations or by calling (866) 857-2757.
Minnesota’s 75 state parks and recreation areas include about 4,500 campsites.
“We’re asking people to be patient over the next three to four weeks as we work out the details of how to roll out the changes in early May and which campsites will be ready for same-day registration before Memorial Day,” Rivers said. “At some parks, it may take longer into the summer before we can offer same-day reservations.”
Leversedge, who managed popular Tettegouche State Park near Silver Bay for 25 years, said he thinks the new reservation system will eliminate frustration for campers at popular parks along the North Shore.
“I used to find it amazing that people would have to come to a park and stand in line or get their names on a waiting list for a possible campsite that might open up later in the day,” he said.
For complete information on the coming changes, go to mndnr.gov/camping.