Well, that was fast.
Reservations for the three camper cabins at Dakota County's Whitetail Woods Regional Park opened at 10 a.m. Dec. 1 and within the first 60 seconds, there were 45 requests. After 30 minutes, there were 238 requests. And after two days, there were more than 650 requests.
If you'd hoped to still score a weekend night in the cabins among the trees, you're out of luck. Only a few scattered weeknight spots are left and those are going fast, too, said Beth Landahl, manager of visitor services for the Dakota County Parks Department.
"We didn't expect, but we planned for that kind of response," she said.
Reservations were initially available for Dec. 5 through April 30, 2015. Those for May 1 and later open April 1.
The cabins are simple, yet architecturally interesting, with sloping timber ceilings and a glass wall that looks out among the trees. The units are each elevated — one at 7 feet, one at 10 and one at 14 feet, to give the feeling of being in a treehouse.
Although the cabins can accommodate six people, that would be tight. At just 227 square feet, the cabins include full-sized bunk beds, a couple of day beds, a dining room table and an open-air deck. There's a concrete patio outside with a picnic table and a fire ring. What there isn't is running water and a bathroom. Shower and bathroom facilities are in another building about 100 yards away.
Hiking and snowshoe trails, however, can be accessed right outside the front door.
The response from the first campers has been "really, really positive," Landahl said. "The feedback we heard from them is they thought it was pretty special that they had the privilege of being in these special places."
Landahl said the staff and the County Board will be evaluating over the coming year whether it's feasible to add more camper cabins sooner than originally planned. The 10-year-plus plan calls for a total of 24 cabins.
Right now, reservation requests are being handled by a staff person. Starting April 1, people will be able to book the cabins online with what Landahl called a "much more reservation-friendly process."
The cabins cost $60 per night, with an $8 reservation fee. Prices will stay the same throughout 2015.