You can still stake out a campsite for the July 4th weekend at most Minnesota state parks and recreation areas — despite lingering damage from recent storms.
“Storms knocked out power and trees at a number of our state parks, but the lights are back on, debris is being cleaned up and parks are open for business,” said Courtland Nelson, director of the Parks and Trails Division of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Four camping areas are temporarily closed due to flooding:
• Lac qui Parle State Park’s beach area and lower campground.
• Upper Sioux Agency State Park’s Riverside Campground and trails along the flood plain.
• Beaver Creek Valley State Park trails remain closed with no camping until Wednesday, but the park remains open on a limited basis for fishing.
• Fort Snelling State Park has standing water on trails and roads. Pike and Picnic Islands are closed until further notice because of the rising river levels.
Also this holiday, if you get on the water, be aware that you can go to jail for boating while buzzed. The DNR is beefing up enforcement against drunken boating as part of Operation Dry Water, a national weekend of boating-while-intoxicated education and enforcement to curb drug- and alcohol-related fatalities.
Alcohol was a contributing factor in one out of three fatal boating accidents in Minnesota last year, the DNR says.
Last year, 158 people were arrested for drunken boating in Minnesota, mostly in Hennepin County. The maximum blood alcohol level for operating a boat in Minnesota is the same as the legal limit for driving a car, 0.08 percent.
With this year’s damp and cool weekends, high water, storm damage and blocked roads due to storms, campsite registrations are expected to be down by roughly 3 to 7 percent in certain parts of the state, Nelson said.
More of a dip is seen in day use than in campsites due to storms because people who make registrations well ahead of time typically show up at least for the first night or two, then go home early, Courtland said.
Camping or lodging reservations can be made to a year in advance by visiting www.mndnr.gov/reservations or by calling toll-free 866-857-2757, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
“Our advance registrations are pretty typical in terms of the parks that you think would be busy,” Nelson said.
Up to a third of the campsites at Minnesota state parks and recreation areas are nonreservable and available to campers on a first-come, first-served basis. In state forests, all campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Many state parks within 100 miles of the metro had at least 10 reservable campsites left for the holiday weekend.