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Minn. DNR changing window for state park reservations

Camping at Cascade River State Park Camping at Cascade River State Park |  Photo: WDIO-TV file

Updated: June 22, 2020 02:18 PM

People planning to camp at Minnesota State Parks will soon face a narrower window for reserving their sites.

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Currently, sites can be reserved up to a year in advance.  Starting July 1, reservations will only be allowed up to four months in advance, though reservations made prior to that date will still be honored.

The DNR said in a news release that it had originally planned to make the change in the fall but moved up the date due to "operational uncertainties with the COVID-19 pandemic and associated changes to cleaning protocols." The agency said it decided to make the change based on survey results, data analysis, and "a desire to improve fairness and equity in the reservation process."

"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," DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen said in a news release. 

Campers who change their plans and have to cancel a reservation must pay a $10 fee. If the cancellation is made less than four days prior to arrival, the first night's camping fee is also forfeited.

All sites at Minnesota State Parks are reservation-only, and it's common for popular parks to be completely reserved well in advance of summer weekends. For example, as of Monday, only two state parks within a few hours drive of Duluth still had sites open for the coming weekend.

Compared with neighboring states, Minnesota's policy is most similar to North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa, which all have reservations three months in advance. Wisconsin State Parks allow reservations 11 months in advance, while Michigan allows reservations up to six months in advance. 

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