We just got back from another camping weekend in Minnesota, and we did end up going to a Minnesota State Park Campground for the first time since we bought our camper last year. It's not that we haven't used the camper, it's just that we haven't been able to find a campsite that hasn't been reserved at a Minnesota State Park. It's a problem that most campers that are trying to book a site are aware of.

The only way we were able to book a site is because we took time off and camped during the week, and not on a weekend. I just now did a search for availability for a travel trailer site for this coming weekend to see what I could find across the entire state on the DNR website. Not much available at all.

Why is it so hard to find an available campsite?

There are a bunch of reasons why the campsites are all booked out. The Minnesota DNR allows you to book a campsite on the same day if you wish, but if you have a camper or require an electric hook-up, that's just not realistic in most cases. The DNR allows you to book up to 120 days before your stay. So if you want to plan a camping trip at a Minnesota State Park, you've got to plan it out early in the spring and book it as soon as possible.

Families like mine then basically have to plan out our entire summer to figure out which weekends we are going to camp and make reservations as soon as possible. That's basically what any family who wants to use their camper ends up doing. It can be fun to plan things out, but it's also a little stressful to see your entire summer mapped out weekend by weekend.

Frustrated by vacant, but booked sites.

Some fellow campers were sharing stories about how they were able to reserve a spot on a busy summer weekend to find that lots of people don't show up to their campground. The reserved ticket may be there holding their place, but they never show. It's such a waste, but many people decide last minute not to go camping and don't bother canceling.  Maybe the weather forecast didn't look ideal, or they heard that the bugs were really bad. For whatever reason, they sit there vacant.

If you're not going to use the campground, then why not cancel it?

The good news about camping at a Minnesota State Campground is it's cheap. But that also is a double-edged sword. If you're spending $60 for an entire weekend of camping, it's not that big of a hit to the finances if you end up not going. Private Camgrpounds are usually at least double that for a weekend. The DNR website also indicates that cancellation fees and rules vary from park to park.

There are still some ways to find an available site.

The good news is that the MN DNR does offer notifications if a campsite becomes available. Creating an account is pretty easy and you can set a date range for any site that comes available with the filters that you select. You can then have to book it right away.

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Join social media camping communities, they often share last-minute available sites.

We're part of a camping community page on Facebook. A lot of people will post a message saying if they had to last-minute cancel a site to let other people know it's now available. Besides that, it's a good place to share tips, answer questions, and learn about new places to visit.

It's a problem across the country, not just in Minnesota.

I found an article on Travelawaits.com that talks about how this is an issue across the country. They also offer insight into reservation bots and other things creating this problem.

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