Revamped system for reserving DNR campsites fails

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH and MARY LYNN SMITH , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Updated: March 1, 2012 - 8:44 PM

William O'Brien State Park

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Minnesota officials have temporarily pulled the plug on a new online camping and lodging reservation system for state parks and recreation areas.

The revamped system had just gone live Thursday when technical problems forced the Department of Natural Resources to shut it down, along with the phone signup option. That means no reservations are being taken in any manner until further notice, said DNR Parks and Trails spokeswoman Pat Arndt.

At the very least, the reservation system will remain down through the weekend while the problems are fixed and the system can be reassessed, she said.

Loved to death?

The system was tested, but Arndt said problems erupted when a large number of people tried to get into it at the same time Thursday morning.

"In some ways, it's a wonderful problem to have to be loved so much," Arndt said.

A notice reading "SYSTEM IS TEMPORARILY DOWN" went up on the website after it failed.

Arndt offered assurances to those worried they will be locked out of their choice spots. "There were only a small number of people who actually got through, so there aren't many people who have made reservations," she said.

The state takes 90,000 to 95,000 reservations each year for about 3,500 campsites, camper cabins, tepees, guesthouses and lodges at its 75 parks, Arndt said. Up to 30 percent of the campsites in the parks and recreation areas can only be rented on a first-come, first-served basis.

Offline since December

The online reservation system had been offline since Dec. 27 while the "state-of-the-art" system was installed. The upgrade is expected to be more robust with more user-friendly features.

The system won't be back online until it's been fully tested, Arndt said. "We want to make sure the system can handle a large volume so that we don't attempt this again and have the same issue." • 612-673-4482 • 612-673-4788

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