Minnesota Parks Rebounding from Shutdown
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) continues to report brisk numbers since it continued taking reservations July 26 following a 20-day shutdown in July.
According to Amy Barrett, public information officer for the DNR’s division of parks and trails, a record 4,140 reservations were made that first day (July 26) for a total of 11,489 nights of camping and lodging. The third and fourth highest total of reservations taken since 2007 came the next two days — 1,072 July 27 and 807 July 28, the Brainerd Daily Dispatch reported.
But it didn’t stop there. On Thursday (Aug. 11), Barrett said “11 of the last 14 days are ahead of the same comparable dates for 2010. (Even with the shutdown) we’re within 1,000 of where we expected to be on last year’s numbers. With every single park within 100 miles (of the DNR headquarters in St. Paul), it’s not possible to get a reservation spot for Friday or Saturday nights (Aug. 12-13).”
On Monday (Aug. 8), in the 14 days since state parks began taking reservations, the DNR has taken almost 12,000 reservations, with most every one of those days being an increase over those dates in 2010. As of Monday, 21,649 reservations have been taken for the next 365 days, compared to 23,100 on that same date in 2010 and 22,462 in 2009.
Itasca, Minnesota’s first state park, leads Minnesota’s 74 state parks and recreation areas with 987 reservations since July 26. Kathio State Park, near Onamia, is 18th with 218 reservations.
“We’re doing great here,” Kris Erickson, assistant park manager, said of reservations at Kathio. “The first weekend it was about half full, but the campers only had one or two days (to prepare for that first weekend after the shutdown was lifted). Since then we’ve had a full campground and good turnouts.
“That’s prime camping time in July,” Erickson said of the impact of the shutdown on the park. “We’re usually full. The campground is full, the (summer) programs are well attended. It’s tough to lose that business. But people are coming back strong. Everyone I’ve talked to is excited to come back to the parks and get their camping trips in. It’s difficult to make up that time — mid-June to mid-August is usually packed every weekend. When you’re losing three weeks of being packed, you can’t cram more people in. But people are coming out in great support of the park. We’re back to normal.”