Whether you view it as fee creep, or accept it as the cost of doing business, Voyageurs National Park is going ahead with a campsite reservation system and related fees.
Park officials recently completed a three-year public process to determine whether campsite reservations and fees were warranted for the park in northern Minnesota. After holding multiple public meetings and gathering public comments, park officials determined the majority of the public supports the program. Despite a moratorium on new or modified fees, the director’s office of the National Park Service approved a reservation system and fee rates for Voyageurs, park officials said in a release.
The park will begin to phase interior and main lake campsites, houseboats sites, and rentals of boats on interior lakes into the reservation/fee program. This will allow park staff to ensure all aspects of the system provide the intended service to visitors. It also allows a few seasons for visitors to get used to the changes.
“During civic engagement a lot of people requested we phase this process over a couple years so that visitors would become accustomed to the process. We fully agree with their input,” said Voyageurs Superintendent Mike Ward.
Starting next year, the park will place the Boats on Interior Lakes program, the two existing accessible sites, and the 17 Interior sites, on the reservation/fee system. In addition, a combination of 30 large and small campsites located on the four main lakes in the park will be placed on the reservation/fee system in 2014. This will give the park time to monitor how these 30 sites are used prior to continuing implementation.
“This is a large project and will take time and monitoring to achieve success. We will continue to implement the other 240 sites in the park based on staffing and the results of the monitoring," said the superintendent.
The 30 large lake campsites and two accessible sites will be marked with “reservation only” signs and all other campsites will remain first-come, first-served in 2014.
Starting in February of 2014, reservations for the above described sites can be made in advance online at www.recreation.gov or by calling the National Call Center at (877) 444-6777. Advance reservations are available until midnight the night before the visit. Reservations are by credit card only.
Visitors may make reservations for the newly implemented sites:
- Beginning in February and then up to 6 months in advance
- On-line at www.recreation.gov
- By phone at the National Call Center - 877-444-6777
- Walk-ins will be taken for that day only (multiple days will need a reservation)
- Free Overnight Permits will still be required for all non-reservation sites
- Temporary computer kiosks will be available at the parks’ three visitor centers and park headquarters during regular hours
Boats on Interior Lakes Program:
- 17 Interior Campsites
- 12 canoes
- 3 rowboats
- 14 Campsites
- 1 Accessible Site
- 6 Campsites
- 6 Campsites
- 1 Accessible site
Sand Point Lake
- 4 Campsites
- The fee structure for sites is as follows: a one-time reservation fee to Recreation.gov will be taken off the first night’s stay.
- Small Campsite with no tent pad $16 per night
- Small Campsite with 1 tent pad $18 per night
- Small Campsite with 2 tent pads $20 per night
- Large Campsites $24 per night
- Canoe/rowboat $12 per boat per night