Campers seeking that prime spot at Minnesota state parks and recreation areas no longer have to make camping and lodging reservations a year in advance, thanks to a policy change the Department of Natural Resources announced Monday.
With the change, the DNR is shortening the window for making reservations to 120 days, or four months, instead of one year in advance. The change, which includes campsites, cabins, yurt, tipis and other lodging facilities, takes effect Wednesday, July 1.
“State Parks and Recreation Areas belong to all Minnesotans, so everyone should have equitable access to facilities and campgrounds,” DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen said in a statement. “As our lives have become busier, it’s more difficult for people to plan vacations a whole year in advance. Shortening the reservation window will better accommodate visitors’ busy schedules and allow more people to enjoy the most desirable campsites and lodging.”
The DNR originally planned to make the change this coming fall, but operational uncertainties with the COVID-19 pandemic and associated changes to cleaning protocols necessitated making the change sooner.
The policy change is based on customer survey results, data analysis, and a desire to improve fairness and equity in the reservation process, the DNR said.
DNR surveys indicated that most visitors plan their overnight visits to parks and recreation areas a few months before they go and that many could not plan an entire year in advance.
The operational uncertainties of COVID-19 have created new challenges for the State Parks and Recreation Area system, including the recommendation to provide a 24-hour gap between lodging reservations. The pandemic also forced the DNR to cancel more than 25,000 reservations because of necessary closures in April and May. A shorter reservation window will facilitate implementation of the gap between lodging reservations and any future operational changes that may be needed.
The DNR will honor all reservations made before July 1, even if they are for a date beyond the new 120-day reservation window. However, if a customer needs to change a reservation, a rebooking will only be possible within the new 120-day window.
More info: mndnr.gov, email@example.com or (888) 646-6367