It was a postcard-image type day in Voyagers National Park last May when I paddled around one final rock embankment to arrive at my potential campsite. Many nautical miles had been traveled in my streamlined, rented Kevlar canoe.
And just around that corner, tucked amongst all the beautiful pines and majestic limestone, was… another camper.
In a land where the policy was first-come, first-serve in regard to back-country camping, scenes like this were not uncommon. Unfortunately for me, I found this out the hard way two more times that afternoon/evening. I eventually secured a camping spot, but only after backtracking for several miles and nearly two hours.
That’s why this news release from Voyageurs National Park such tremendous news to my ears:
Voyageurs National Park will launch its campsite reservation and fee system next month.
The park on Minnesota’s northern border will phase in the system staring April 1. Officials have chosen 34 sites that will be marked with “reservation only” signs for the first year and will expand the program for 2015.
Park officials hope the certainty of a reservation system will bring in new users and revenue. Campsites and houseboat sites had been on the first-come, first-served, and the only access to them is by boat.
The park’s visitor centers will have computer kiosks to assist with walk-in, same-day reservations. All other reservations will need to be made in advance on-line at www.recreation.gov or by phone at 1-877-444-6777.
Fees will range from $10 for houseboat sites to $24 for large campsites.
In a land where the scenery is mind altering and the fishing is sublime, a reserved campsite will bring peace of mind to many hard-paddling explorers.
Photos by: Joseph Friedrichs