Minnesota state parks campsite reservation system back online today

Interstate State Park is open and enticing.

Interstate State Park is open and enticing.

The shutdown was rough on Minnesotan outdoorsmen and women. No boat or fishing license renewal. Closed state parks. A minefield of poop outside of locked public restrooms.

Well, it's all over now. And starting this morning, the Department of Natural Resource's online campsite reservation system will boot back up. All the choicest spots for Fourth of July weekend 2012 are unclaimed and ready to be snatched.


DNR spokeswoman Pat Arndt says that's really unusual. Lots of people are online at 8 a.m. on July 5th every year in order to reserve the best spots for the following year, in particular cabins in Itasca State Park and around Lake Tettegouch. But since the shutdown closed not only the parks, but also phone lines and state websites, no one has had access to those precious Independence Day spots.

No more! The site goes live here at 8 a.m. sharp.

"We're expecting thousands of people to be going online," says Arndt.

Last year, the MNReserve system took about 12,000 reservations were made between July 1 and July 15, according to Arndt.

As for the rest of this summer, she says there is extra availability at a lot of the parks around the state because of the shutdown. All but four are open; Camden, Old Mill, St. Croix and Upper Sioux Agency are closed because of extensive wind storm damage. At St. Croix, nearly 6,000 acres of trees were felled and cabins were crushed. Only a skeleton crew of emergency workers was available to help clean up during the shutdown. You can check the status of those parks' openings here.

Some of the damage at St. Croix State Park.

Some of the damage at St. Croix State Park.

The time is now, campers.

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