DNR's new camping guidelines: What you can and can't do

The new rules come into effect on Monday.
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With the Stay at Home order expiring at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, life under the temporary "Stay Safe Minnesota" COVID-19 restrictions start Monday and with it some new rules for camping as the summer season nears.

But the loosening of restrictions does not extends as far as the reopening of public and private developed campgrounds, which must stay closed through at least May 31.

So what are the rules? We've taken a look at the latest guidance released by the Minnesota DNR:

'Dispersed camping' is allowed

While campgrounds aren't permitted to open yet, Minnesotans will able to practice "dispersed" camping, allowing them to stay overnight on their own far from others.

Campers must all be from the same households, and they camp in areas where there are no shared amenities, such as a bathroom, pit toilet, water pump, fire grate, trashcans or picnic tables.

"It is a wilderness experience for campers who enjoy camping far from others and do not need any amenities," the DNR says.

Where can you do this?

You can do this at any of Minnesota's 59 state forests, a list of which you can find here, as well as the Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

It says you must camp at least one mile outside of designated campsites or campgrounds.

"Pick a location that has level ground with good drainage," the DNR says. "Place your tent to avoid damage to plants and do not camp within 100 feet of any water source."

You can find State Forest maps here.

What are dispersed camping rules?

The DNR is citing state law for dispersed camping:

  • Do not dig or trench the ground around your tent.
  • Bury human waste and animal parts, including fish guts, at least 150 feet from a water body and away from areas it could cause a public health hazard.
  • Collect only dead wood lying on the ground for campfires.
  • Don't block trails, roads, or gates with your vehicle.
  • Remove all garbage.
  • Don't build permanent structures of any kinds.

Campers are also advised to keep campfires away from dry grass, shrubs or logs, and free of overhanging branches.

As was the case before, the DNR is asking people to choose state forests that are close to their homes.

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