Minnesota DNR reopening campgrounds in phases beginning June 1

Starting Monday, Minnesota is allowing campers from the same households to set up in remote and dispersed sites.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said it will reopening its campgrounds at state parks, forests and recreation in phases begining June 1. 

Wednesday, Gov. Tim Walz announced that public and private campgrounds may reopen starting June 1. Currently, only dispersed and remote camping is allowed. 

In a news release, the DNR said during the nearly two-month-long stay-at-home order, it limited its on-site parks and trails workforce to only those employees most critical to supporting day-use activities. As a result, the DNR says it now has a lot of work left to do to ready campgrounds and lodging for overnight visitors, which is why it is opting for a phased approach to reopening.  

The DNR says it plans to reopen campgrounds as soon as they are ready and is aiming for all campgrounds to be open by June 15. 

The following facilities and amenities will remain closed for the time being: beaches, pond-pools, housekeeping cabins, visitor centers, group centers, fire towers, large-group facilities (such as amphitheaters), group tours and other scheduled interpretive programs.

Campers are encouraged to come prepared with their own hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, paper towels, toilet paper and other supplies for use at their campsites and available bathrooms.

PHASES OF REOPENING 

May 22: The DNR will open 75 remote campsites in state parks for use on Memorial Day weekend, most of which had existing reservations. Another 80 remote sites are expected to be ready by May 29.

June 1: The DNR anticipates having about 20-30 of its campgrounds within state parks, recreation areas and forest campgrounds ready to open, with limited services.

Some lodging options, such as camper cabins and yurts, will also open on June 1. 

In general, visitors can expect that water systems will be turned on, grounds will be maintained and vault toilets/porta-toilets will be available. However, some value-added services may not be ready or available at that point, such as showers and contact/ranger stations.

June 8: The DNR will reopen another 20-30 campgrounds and lodging facilities, the rest of its remote campsites and many of its contact/ranger stations.

June 15: The DNR plans to have the rest of the campgrounds open and most areas with full services. The Mary Gibbs Café at Itasca State Park, some nature stores and ancillary buildings, such as fish cleaning facilities and picnic shelters with reduced capacities, will be reopened where possible.

CAMPER GUIDELINES 

The DNR is encouraging Minnesotans to follow the following guidelines to minimize potential points of virus transmission while using campgrounds in state parks, forests and recreation areas. 

  • Travel as directly to destination as possible and minimize stops along the way
  • Attempt to bring all needed supplies with you
  • If you do need to stop for gas or supplies, wear a cloth face covering
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after touching common surfaces (gas pumps, door handles, shared bathrooms, etc.)
  • Do not travel if sick