Posts Tagged ‘private campgrounds’

PINE CITY, Minn (Reuters) – With campers being turned away from Minnesota’s state parks, private campgrounds and resorts are showing slight benefits in the wake of the state’s government shutdown.

“It isn’t hurting. It’s been helping us a little bit,” said Carol Nelson, a co-owner of the 125-site Vagabond Village Campground near Itasca State Park, home of the Mississippi River’s headwaters.

“Hopefully it will help other private campgrounds pay their bills.”

As Minnesota’s budget impasse reaches a week, state parks and other services deemed non-essential have been shuttered while politicians try to bridge a $1.4 billion budget gap.

At Itasca State Park, that means 237 campsites and 53 cabins have been vacant since July 1.

The state parks lose an estimated $1 million a week in revenue from summer visitors with the shutdown, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

The campers slated to stay at Itasca and the other state parks with campsites have had to scrap plans, wait or find scarce alternatives at some already popular private campsites.

More campers have called Vagabond about vacancies, but most have taken a wait-and-see approach to their upcoming camping trip to northern Minnesota and haven’t booked in droves, Nelson said.

Privately owned Camp Itasca, less than a mile from the state park, receives overflow referrals when the state park is operating. Since the shutdown, Camp Itasca has maintained the status quo.

“They will make reservations with us and cancel with them,” Camp Itasca co-owner Craig Burslie said.

On the holiday weekend, Camp Itasca filled 40 of its 50 campsites, which is at its 5-year average, Burslie said.

While the shutdown might bring some customers to private campsites, it might also be keeping others away.

Burslie said an Illinois man called Wednesday to talk about a possible road trip to Minnesota, but the shutdown gave him second thoughts.

County-owned Long Lake Park and Campground, five miles from Itasca, has fielded about 100 calls in the last 10 days, but they are already booked most weekends, manager Ann Person said. The only impact would be if the campers came during the less-busy weeknights.

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Woodall’s a publisher of campground directories, announced the launch of RV & Camping Copilot, a comprehensive campground mobile application available for iPhone and iPad.


IPhone Screenshots

The free app provides RVers and outdoor enthusiasts instant and convenient access to more than 12,000 private and public campgrounds and RV parks in the United States and Canada, plus Mexico, according to a news release. It can be downloaded for free at: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/woodalls-rv-camping-copilot/id445868562?mt=8.

Woodall’s RV & Camping Copilot can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store and provides complete campground information, including amenities, services, types of campsites, on-site recreation and identifies many camping discounts offered at parks. Private campgrounds also include Woodall’s 5W/5W Rating System, which is the most trusted consumer campground rating.

“Woodall’s RV & Camping Copilot is a groundbreaking mobile application that provides RVers and family campers access to campground information from the comfort of home or their home on the road,” said Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World. “This mobile app is the first of its kind, and we are pleased to lead the industry into the mobile space. But more importantly, we are thrilled to offer this app to camping enthusiasts for free.”

Woodall’s is also allowing RVers and campers the opportunity to enter to win $250 cash to support their summer camping plans. Consumers can simply download the App, try it, write a review on both iTunes and on the Woodall’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/Woodalls and they will be automatically entered to win.

The Woodall’s mobile application interface is intuitive and easy to navigate. It will offer the ability to search campgrounds by city, state/province, nearest location or by campground name in an easy one-click search format. Users will also have the ability to view photos, take virtual tours and indicate their favorite campgrounds as well as share them on Facebook, Twitter or email to a friend. More than 1,000 popular attractions, in addition to Camping World retail locations, are accessible on the application.

The Woodall’s RV & Camping Copilot App supports the iPhone, iPod Touch and the iPad and requires the iOS 4.2 system or higher, and was developed in collaboration with Consent Media.

Woodall’s, Woodall’s Campground Management and Camping World are owned by Good Sam Enterprises LLC.

All of Minnesota’s 74 state parks and recreation areas were closing as of 4 p.m. Thursday because of a budget impasse and state government shutdown.

Campers across the state faced the dilemma Thursday afternoon as negotiations between legislative leaders and Gov. Mark Dayton continued with no budget deal made.

Many people who had planned to camp at state parks in the area are now looking to U.S. Forest Service campgrounds, private campgrounds or Wisconsin campgrounds.

The Forest Service is gearing up for an expected increase in demand at their campgrounds, especially on the North Shore, said Steve Schug, assistant ranger for recreation and wilderness at Tofte and Grand Marais.

“We kind of figured it would impact our Forest Service offices big time,” Schug said Thursday.

The agency will keep in close contact with its campground concessionaires to keep tabs on campsite availability, he said.
“The last thing we want to do is send a forest visitor 50 miles up a gravel road to a campground that’s already full,” he said.
Pattison State Park in Wisconsin has received many inquiries from would-be Minnesota campers, said Nicole Farmakes, visitor service representative at the park.

“But we’ve been booked since May, so we can’t help those people,” she said.

The state parks and recreation areas are prepared to re-open as quickly as possible if a budget deal is reached, said Chris Niskanen, DNR director of communications.

“It might be simple, or it may be more difficult, depending on the park,” Niskanen said late Thursday afternoon. “We have a contingency plan for reopening the parks. We’ll have to turn on the water, turn on the electricity. … This is not a latch-key operation. These are complex facilities.”

Although the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources closed down most of its website Thursday afternoon because of the state government shutdown, one page will remain available, said Chris Niskanen, DNR director of communications. That page of Frequently Asked Questions will include the latest information on what DNR operations will remain in service during a shutdown. To reach that page, go to www.mndnr.gov. The page will offer no links to other parts of the DNR’s website.

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