Minnesota state parks to make customer service improvements

Full inventory of campsites will be reservable in time for Memorial Day weekend

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced that some key customer service improvements are coming to Minnesota state parks and recreation areas this summer.

According to DNR Parks and Trails Division Director Erika Rivers, the following changes, which begin taking effect in early May, are important steps to modernize services and meet the needs of today’s visitors to the state’s 75 parks and recreation areas.

Summer 2016 changes include:

  • Campsites that are 100 percent reservable at all Minnesota state parks and recreation areas. Previously, up to one-third of state park campsites were not available for advanced reservation and could only be rented by walk-in guests at the parks on a first-come, first served basis. In a 2014-2015 pilot project, about a quarter of state parks made all of their campsites reservable. Based on positive customer response, the Parks and Trails Division decided to expand this service statewide in 2016. Campsites can be reserved online at www.mndnr.gov/reservations or via phone: 866-857-2757.
  • Same-day reservations. For spontaneous travelers and families with busy schedules, same-day reservations will soon be available at many of Minnesota state parks’ most popular destinations (some locations will require infrastructure upgrades before implementation). Previously, the cut-off for making reservations was midnight the night before arrival day. For walk-ins, if there’s a campsite available, they’ll be able to book it either online or at a self-serve kiosk right in the park after arrival, with no reservation fee.
  • Easier, more convenient registration and orientation. Minnesota state parks and recreation areas are also investing in improved orientation and registration systems, which will allow visitors to register themselves and get other information without standing in line waiting for a staff person. Signs, maps and publications are being redesigned to be easier to use and to appeal to a new generation of visitors.

“Self-service has become commonplace at grocery stores, libraries and airports,” Rivers said. “Implementing 100 percent reservable campsites and self-service experiences are time-saving measures for our park visitors and saves resources for state government. As we phase in more self-service opportunities at parks, park staff will be able to refocus their work and engagement and will have more time out in the park, interacting with visitors and answering questions.”

In moving to 100 percent reservable campsites, Rivers noted that parents previously may have been reluctant to pack up their cars and haul their kids some distance to a park that may not have a campsite available by the time they get there. “Moving to 100 percent ‘guaranteed camping’ and accepting same-day reservations is a step toward becoming even more family friendly,” she said.

Customer service improvements to the camping reservation system will be rolled out in early May, just in time for Memorial Day weekend, according to the DNR. The registration and orientation improvements will be rolled out throughout the summer on a park-by-park basis. These customer service improvements come as the DNR celebrates the 125th anniversary of Minnesota’s state park and trail system.

For more information, visit the camping  website  or contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us, 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.