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Minnesota state park camping and lodging sites filling fast for summer

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outdoors Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

If people are thinking about packing up the kids, the dog, and the fishing gear for a weekend getaway at a Minnesota state park this spring or summer, they better not wait too much longer to make reservations, advised the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

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"Camper cabins and electric campsites may be hard to come by in certain parks for Memorial weekend," said Forrest Boe, deputy director of the Parks and Trails Division, "which may mean more Minnesotans are planning to vacation closer to home this year."

Families who just want to pitch a tent will still find plenty of sites available, but reservations for Friday and Saturday nights at the most popular parks, won't last long, according to Boe.

For those not planning to stay overnight, there will be plenty to do for day visitors.

Park naturalists have put together more than 300 programs in an effort to get families with young children outdoors this spring and summer. Programs include fishing clinics, wildflower walks, and voyageur canoe rides. For details on the place and time of these events, visit www.mnstateparks.info.

Last June, state parks began accepting reservations up to a year in advance (previously reservations could only be made up to 90 days in advance). Reservations for the upcoming vacation season are clearly coming in strong, so make your reservations early.

The numbers below indicate the approximate percentage of Minnesota state parks' reservable inventory that are still available for holiday weekends in 2009:

Memorial Day

* Overall - 50

* Electric campsites - 15

* Non-electric campsites - 70

* Camper cabins - 5

* Lodging - 15

July 4

* Overall - 66

* Electric campsites - 40

* Non-electric campsites - 80

* Camper cabins - 25

* Lodging - 35

Labor Day

* Overall - 80

* Electric campsites - 60

* Non-electric campsites - 90

* Camper cabins - 55

* Lodging - 80

Minnesota state parks still make about a third of campsites available on a first-come, first-serve basis for travelers who arrive without reservations. However, Minnesota state park campsites are very popular, so reservations are recommended when it's possible to plan ahead.

For details on Minnesota's state parks, including descriptions of each park's scenery, wildlife and recreational opportunities, call 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 or visit www.mnstateparks.info.

To make camping or lodging reservations, call 866-85PARKS or 866-857-2757 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily, or visit www.stayatmnparks.com.

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