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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Plan now for the upcoming camping season

Posted 4/10/24

REGIONAL— With the late March snowfall all but faded, North Country residents are increasingly thinking ahead to spring— and for many that will include a camping trip to one of the …

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Plan now for the upcoming camping season


REGIONAL— With the late March snowfall all but faded, North Country residents are increasingly thinking ahead to spring— and for many that will include a camping trip to one of the region’s many state parks.
That’s why the Department of Natural Resources is offering tips to help campers plan their summer camping adventures. 
“We know Minnesotans love being outdoors, and camping at Minnesota state parks and recreation areas is more popular than ever,” said Ann Pierce, the DNR’s state parks and trails director. “Camping provides so many benefits, like connection with nature, relaxation, and quality time with loved ones. We know Minnesotans are eager to plan their summer vacations and we want to make it easy and fun to plan a summer camping adventure.”
Choose the right location 
While many of the state parks in northeastern Minnesota are among the state’s most popular camping destinations for folks from points south, for residents of the North Country, state parks elsewhere in the state can offer opportunities and vistas a bit different from those located in the region. Whatever you’re looking for in a state park, you can use the DNR’s interactive ParkFinder ( tool to find the park with the scenery, amenities, and recreational opportunities you’re looking for. Among other things, ParkFinder can screen for accessible campsites and bathroom facilities. Trip planners can search by programs, things to see, camping or lodging types, recreation facilities, trail types or rental equipment offered.  

Book campsites and lodging early and be flexible 
Now is a good time to make plans for summer camping. Reservations for campsites and lodging in state parks and recreation areas can be made up to 120 days in advance. This means all of June and some of July are already within the reservation window. Reservations are in high demand for holiday weekends, campsites with electric hookups and the most popular parks, so it’s best to plan ahead if you’re thinking of a visit to popular parks during the peak of the season. 
If reservations are full for your preferred location and dates, the DNR has three suggestions. First, sign up for the “notify me” function on the reservation website to get notified by email if there’s a cancellation. Cancellations do occur regularly. Second, consider a camping trip on weekdays instead of a weekend, which tend to fill up faster. Third, look for open reservations at less busy parks. There are more than 70 state parks and recreation areas across Minnesota, and many of them always have camping reservations available. If the first choice park is full, use the ParkFinder tool( to find another location.  
Cancel if plans change 
If you’ve made a reservation but your plans have changed, reservations can be canceled on the DNR website ( or via phone at 866-857-2757. Campers who will not be able to use their reservation are strongly encouraged to cancel, not just to get a full or partial refund, but to open those opportunities to other campers. There is no cancellation fee if a reservation is canceled 14 or more days prior to the scheduled arrival.  
Find state park events and programs 
Events are scheduled at many state parks throughout the year, offering a wide range of activities from fishing and birding to guided hikes to crafting to learning about park wildlife. No prior experience is necessary to participate, and most events are free. Find event listings on the parks and trails event calendar ( 
People camping with kids will want to check out the Junior Ranger program. Junior Ranger booklets can be picked up at ranger stations during open hours or printed at home. Kids who complete the program earn a badge. There’s no cost to participate. Details are available on the Junior Ranger webpage ( 
Check visitor alerts
before leaving home 
Staff post visitor alerts on the DNR website to communicate important information related to safety, closures, construction projects and other things that might impact trips. Find visitor alerts at the top of each individual park website ( 
Don’t get lost 
The Avenza Maps app uses GPS location tracking so park visitors can find their location, even when off the grid. After the app and a park or trail map is downloaded, no internet or cell service is needed. DNR maps can be downloaded for free. the DNR’s GeoPDF webpage ( 
Get a vehicle permit 
Each vehicle requires a vehicle permit in state parks and recreation areas. Permits can be purchased on the state park permits website ( or at ranger stations during open hours. The cost is $7 per day or $35 per year. Save time and get the permit when making a camping reservation through the online reservation system(
Pack appropriately
Make a checklist of essential camping gear, including a tent, sleeping bags, cooking items, food, water, clothing and personal hygiene items. When deciding what clothing and footwear to pack, be prepared for various weather conditions, including rain, wind, and temperature fluctuations. Don’t forget to pack health and safety items such as insect repellent, sunscreen and a first-aid kit.
Take photos and share them  
Make sure to bring a camera to document the camping trip, then share photos with the DNR. Images submitted might be featured on the DNR’s social media accounts. Share photos on the DNR photo sharing webpage ( You’re out there to have fun, so let others know about it.