NEW LONDON -- There's still time to reserve camping sites and lodging in Minnesota State Parks before the reservation system is taken down for an upgrade.
The system will be temporarily unavailable from Dec. 27 to Feb. 29, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced this week.
The reservation system will be upgraded as part of a transition to a new provider, US eDirect.
It is possible to reserve campsite, camper cabins and teepees in state parks one year in advance.
The temporary shutdown of the reservation system is not likely to affect camper plans at Sibley State Park. Gary Bullemer, assistant manager of the park, said many of the park's campsites are reserved a full year in advance, especially for summer weekends and holidays.
He said many people reserve their sites for the next year virtually the minute they arrive; thus, January and February are not necessarily busy months for making reservations. The park's heated camper cabins are available through the winter, and see lots of use. Bullemer encourages people who may wish to use a camper cabin this winter to make their reservations before Dec. 27.
If unable to do so, he encourages calling ahead to check on availability. Unreserved cabins are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Starting March 1, when the new system from US eDirect is expected to be fully operational, it will be easier to plan overnight outings to Minnesota state parks and recreation areas, according to the DNR. The new system will feature interactive maps and show where to find available overnight lodging at a glance.
Now through Dec. 26: Summer 2012 camping and lodging reservations can be made until 8 p.m. each day online at stayatmnparks.com and by phone at 866-85PARKS.
Dec. 27-Feb. 29: State parks reservations service will be temporarily unavailable.
March 1: The DNR expects the new reservation system to be ready to accept online and phone reservations starting at 8 a.m.