DNR: Few days remain to book campsites

Those planning to pitch a tent or park a RV at a Minnesota state park have just a few days left to book their favorite campsites for 2012, according to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The DNR advises campers to act now and avoid the rush for reservations in March when the DNR launches its new state park reservation system.

Now through 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 26, reservations can be made by visiting stayatmnparks.com and by calling 866-85-PARKS. Reservations will be accepted for arrival dates as early as a year in advance. As announced earlier this month, the existing reservation system is being upgraded and will be temporarily unavailable Dec. 27-Feb. 29.

Overnight stays at Minnesota state parks and recreation areas totaled 985,374 in 2010, up from 942,381 in 2009 and 863,075 in 2008.

Answers to frequently asked questions about the new system can be found at mndnr.gov (www.dnr.state.mn.us/reserve-faq/index.html).

 

‘First Day’ events scheduled

With “First Day” events scheduled in all 50 states, state park directors are encouraging Americans to start off the New Year off getting outside with family and friends on Sunday, Jan. 1.

Minnesota State Parks and Trails Director Courtland Nelson invites Minnesotans to participate in the national effort by visiting one of the state’s 75 state parks and recreation areas that day.

“Studies have proven that getting outdoors is one good way to relax and recharge the body, mind and spirit,” said Phil McNelly, executive director of the National Association of State Park Directors. “We hope that hiking along a trail in a state park will become part of an individual’s or family’s regular exercise routine.”

Gov. Mark Dayton has proclaimed January to be Learn a Snow Sport Month in Minnesota. He, too, is urging Minnesotans to get outdoors to enjoy a winter sport. “Humans are not meant to hibernate,” he said. “Learning a winter sport provides an excellent way to make the most of our winter weather by using the great outdoors as a healthy alternative for cabin fever.”

All “First Day” activities are free with a valid park vehicle permit ($5 per daily or $25 year-round). Skiers 16 and older also need a Minnesota Ski Pass ($6 per day and available at the park). For more information, including directions to the parks, visit www.mndnr.gov or call the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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