The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is shortening its window for making reservations for camping and lodging to 120 days, or four months. Previously, customers could reserve campsites, cabins, yurts, tipis, and lodging facilities up to one year in advance. The change will take effect on July 1, 2020.
While the agency originally planned to make the change in the fall of 2020, operational uncertainties with the COVID-19 pandemic and associated changes to cleaning protocols necessitate 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.
“State Parks and Recreation Areas belong to all Minnesotans, so everyone should have equitable access to facilities and campgrounds,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. “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 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 agency to cancel more than 25,000 reservations due to necessary closures in April-May 2020. A shorter reservation window will facilitate implementation of the gap between lodging reservation and any future operational changes that may be needed.
All reservations made before July 1, 2020 will be honored, 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.