DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 21, 2014
State park campsites still available for Memorial Day weekend
About 250 state park and recreation area campsites still have three-day availability for Memorial Day weekend, but they won’t last long, so the Department of Natural Resources advises making reservations as soon as possible.
The parks with the most campsites still reservable for the entire three-day weekend include:
- Lake Bronson State Park, north of Thief River Falls, the site of the world’s largest jack pine, an observation tower and a swimming beach—57 sites available.
- St. Croix State Park, Hinckley, where there’s canoeing, biking and interpretive programs—33 sites available.
- Zippel Bay State Park, on Lake of the Woods, where there’s swimming, fishing and boating—25 sites available.
- Red River State Recreation Area, East Grand Forks, where reasons to visit include biking, fishing and campsites with full hookups—21 sites available (three with full hookups).
- Schoolcraft State Park, Deer River, for canoeing, fishing and picnicking amid a virgin pine forest—18 sites available.
- Scenic State Park, Bigfork, for fishing, canoeing and hiking in a wilderness setting similar to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness—16 sites available.
- La Salle Lake State Recreation Area, near Park Rapids, for canoeing, fishing and proximity to Itasca State Park—14 sites available.
For reservation information, visit www.mndnr.gov/reservations or call 866-857-2757 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily.
“Lots of people plan to get outdoors this weekend, and we look forward to seeing them at Minnesota state parks and trails,” said Erika Rivers, director of the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “Whether visitors stay overnight or just come for the day, we hope they will experience the benefits of spending time in nature and return home refreshed and renewed.”
Up to a third of the campsites at Minnesota state parks and recreation areas (about 1,300 sites) are available on a first-come, first-served basis. To get one of these sites:
- Arrive by Thursday, or wait until Sunday, when some campers start packing up to go home.
- If planning to travel with another family or a group of friends, reserve a group site (often the group sites are available even when the rest of the campground is booked).
- Don’t forget about state forests, many of which have campgrounds. They don’t have as many amenities as state parks, but they also don’t take reservations, and it can be easier to get a campsite, especially at the last minute.
For day and overnight visitors alike, many naturalist-led programs will take place at Minnesota state parks and recreations areas during Memorial Day weekend. Examples include:
- Bird Bonanza Weekend at St. Croix State Park in Hinckley.
- An outdoor photography workshop at Mille Lacs Kathio State Park (11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday, May 24).
- A fossil field trip at Whitewater State Park near Winona (10 a.m.-noon Monday, May 26).
- Guided tours of Soudan Underground Mine, Hill Annex Mine and Mystery Cave.
- Archery in the Parks at several locations.
Campsite availability will be updated daily through the end of the week at www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/memorial_day.html. For more information, check the online calendar of events at www.mndnr.gov/parks or call the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Request the free brochure of spring and summer programs and special events or pick one up at any state park and recreation area.
Minnesota state park facts and figures:
One-day vehicle permit sales, year to date (through April 30, 2014):
- 2014: 12,057
- 2013: 11,045
Year-round vehicle permit sales, year to date (through April 30, 2014):
- 2014: 17,417
- 2013: 17,184
Number of parks and recreation areas: 76
- Oldest: Itasca State Park (established in 1891)
- Newest: La Salle Lake State Recreation Area (acquired Fall 2011)
- Largest: St. Croix State Park (31,775 acres)
- Smallest: Franz Jevne State Park (118 acres)
Top three state parks for overnight visits in 2013:
1. Itasca State Park
2. Whitewater State Park
3. St. Croix State Park
Top three state parks for estimated overall visits in 2013:
1. Fort Snelling State Park
2. Gooseberry Falls State Park
3. Itasca State Park
Overnight accommodations at state parks and recreation areas:
- Reservable camping and lodging units: 3,477
- Unreservable (first-come, first-served) sites: 1,353
- Camper cabins: 83
- Percentage of the reservable sites that were reserved as of May 19: 90 percent
Return to the economy:
- Day visitors: $26.23/person/day
- Overnight visitors: $23.16/person/day
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