Social Distancing: Snagging Coveted Camping Spots

If You Wait, You Might Not Get In To Popular Campgrounds
Happy Camper Cropped

We discovered the Park Rapids area in Tuesday’s show. It’s the gateway to Itasca State Park, one of the most beautiful and most popular spots in our region.

It’s the birthplace of the Mississippi River! Of course people are going to want to hang out there.
But if you’re looking for some socially distanced fun this summer, I’ve got some advice for you.

Getting a camping spot to see this natural beauty is tough, especially if you’re only looking to stay for the weekend.
You can only reserve spots at campsite in the park 120 days in advanced. But there’s kind of a loophole.

This is their booking website as of this morning for the latest day you can reserve a spot in Itasca’s Bear Paw campground. That’s August 31st. The spots in red are already reserved. That’s way more than half, and nearly all of the spots with electric hookups. August 31st is a Tuesday. Unless you’re staying a whole week, there’s not much reason to book on a Tuesday. But here’s the loophole. As long as your reservation starts within 120 days, you can book further out. And people are booking through the weekend. That means if you’re a weekend camper like me who’s waiting to be able to book a stay starting on Friday, they’re all taken by the time you even can book a spot.
I ran into this problem a few weeks ago. I had to wait another week to try to book a spot. Even then I had to book a day earlier than I wanted to just so I could snag the last electric hook-up spot in the campground. That cost me an extra 35 bucks, plus an extra vacation day.

Now this is a problem only for the really popular parks. I checked out Maplewood State Park on the same dates, and there are still plenty of spots.
But if you want to head out to places like Itasca, you might have to pay for more days than you intended.
Let me know some camping spots off the beaten path! That way you don’t have to fight for a spot.
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Categories: Morning – Features