Campers not just dreaming of summer getaways; they're reserving them
Subzero temperatures and mounting piles of snow matter not, as reservations open for popular camping destinations. Reservations are off to a fast start in Kandiyohi County's popular parks, despite an increase in camping rates.
WILLMAR — This is the season of sub-zero temperatures and mounting piles of snow.
Yet campers are not just dreaming about summer getaways. They’re already making reservations for them.
Online and phone reservations are now open for many of Minnesota’s most popular summer camping destinations. Reservations for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness opened on Wednesday, and after news that the number of permits was being cut, outfitters reported a flurry of activity, according to news reports.
There’s plenty of early interest in local camping opportunities as well.
Kandiyohi County’s online reservation system began accepting reservations for the county park system on Tuesday. The reservations are off to a fast start, reported Larry Kliendl, county administrator.
Reservations are coming through at a pace at least equal to last year, and that’s after the county increased fees for the coming season. The daily camping rate at the county’s five parks for stays of under 30 days now ranges from $31 to $40, and the daily rate for longer stays was raised from $19.95 to $30.
The increase has not affected interest, said Kleindl. Campers appreciate the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors close to home, and the county parks fill an important niche for people from throughout the county and area.
The increase was implemented to help the parks pay their way, as well as fund needed improvements. The parks saw expenses exceed revenues by $994,000 over the past 10 years. Kleindl said the parks are also looking at costly upgrades to the electrical systems to accommodate the large, modern campers that are now the norm. It is estimated it will cost $180,000 to upgrade the Diamond Lake County Park electrical system, and anywhere from $50,000 to $60,000 at Big Kandiyohi County Lake West.
There are 371 campsites available for reservations at the county’s five parks.
Kandiyohi County is hardly alone in seeing early, and continued interest in camping. Neighboring Renville County opened its reservation system on January 3, and reservations are coming in, according to Jesse Diehn, parks manager.
Renville County launched its reservation system just two years ago. Diehn said he was surprised at first by reservations coming in as early as January and February. With only two years experience, he said it’s hard to know if there’s a trend by park users to make their plans earlier.
He does know this: People appreciate being able to reserve campsites. Campers don’t like the risk and worry that came with a first come, first served system and the possibility of finding no open sites. The move to reservations has helped increase camper numbers, he said.
Reservations are also open for Minnesota state parks. The state parks implemented a change two years ago which allows campers to reserve a site up to 120 days in advance. It was formerly possible to reserve up to one year in advance.
While Memorial Day weekend reservations are not yet possible, there are already reservations for earlier in the month at state parks across the state, according to information from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.