The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is changing up its lodging reservation policies in an effort to make it easier for all to use the state's recreation areas, which have been extremely popular amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Starting Dec. 1, the DNR will no longer charge a cancelation fee to people who cancel 14 days or more prior to their scheduled visit. The DNR says this will encourage people to cancel earlier and allow for the camping or lodging site to be rebooked, improving access for other potential visitors.
“Minnesota state parks and recreation areas are for all Minnesotans to enjoy,” Erika Rivers, DNR Parks and Trails Division director, said in a statement. “We want to ensure that campsites and lodging are open and available to each person equitably, and that if your plans change you can easily cancel so the DNR can make that opportunity available to one of your fellow Minnesotans.”
And if a reservation holder doesn't call or occupy their site on their reserved arrival date, park staff can cancel their reservation and allow others to reserve the site, the DNR says.
This is particularly important right now, when the state's parks and recreation areas "are more popular than ever," the DNR notes.
These changes come a few months after the DNR shortened the window in which campers can make reservations. Park-goers could previously book campsites, cabins, yurts, tipis, and other lodging up to a year in advance, but now reservations don't open until four months (120 days) prior.
The DNR announced this in June, saying it'll make this more equitable and fair for people who are unable to plan a trip a year in advance.
Also going into effect on Dec. 1 is a change in the DNR's reservation modification policy. Those who make reservations at the maximum reservation window of 120 days will be required to wait 21 days before modifying or canceling their reservation.
The DNR says this will effectively end the practice of "date sliding," a technique people have used to reserve a campsite before anyone else can by making use of a loophole in the modification policy.
The DNR this week also said it is updating its reservation modification policy to prohibit "date sliding" – a technique some people have used to reserve a specific campsite before anyone else could by making use of a loophole in the modification policy.
More information on the Minnesota State Parks reservation system is available here.