Its reputation is making tenting more durable | Native Information


Pulled out and set up the little pop up camper this week to get ready for the first camping trip after a miserable start to spring.

After a long winter it’s nice to climb into the cozy camper and think about campfires, hiking, biking, kayaking and sightseeing while we stay at different campsites.

Interest in camping has increased significantly in recent years. This is good to see as it is a great recreation to be enjoyed by young couples, families with younger children or empty nesters.

But the growth of camping has faltered the ability to camp.

Every camper knows that it has become more difficult to reserve a campsite anywhere in recent years.

One of the joys of camping has always been that it could be a spontaneous thing. If the weather looked good for the upcoming weekend and you had no other commitments, you could take the RV or tent to a resort or campground for a few days.

Or you could go somewhere for a week or more and just drive until you find an area that looks interesting and go to a campground and usually get a spot.

No more.

Most state parks, private campgrounds, and other public campgrounds are booked, or nearly booked, several months or a year in advance. In Minnesota State Parks, a certain number of campgrounds used to be non-reservable for travelers who needed a place to stop and camp for a night or two.

But their sites are now all reservable — in fact, all sites must be reserved in advance — with people making reservations up to four months in advance.

So much for spontaneity.

We need a lot more campgrounds at private, city, regional, state and national campgrounds.

It’s not easy to keep track of the number of campgrounds in a state or country. However, the available information shows that the number of pitches on public land has remained fairly stagnant over the last ten years, although the number of campers has increased sharply. A 2019 National Park Service study found that the most common frustration faced by American campers is the difficulty of finding a place to camp.

There are more campgrounds on Airbnb-like sites, where private landowners create a spot or a few spots on their property for people to camp. It could just be a place to park your RV or pitch a tent on a mowed lawn behind a barn, or a better developed site with electricity and water hookups.

There are several websites, including one called Hipcamp, that show a variety of privately owned websites in Minnesota.

The rise in camping began before the pandemic, but continued to increase in 2020 when other forms of recreational activities were unavailable. In 2020, camping in state and national parks increased from 20% to 80%.

And in the past year, another 8 million people have started camping for the first time.

Luckily, camping is enjoyed by a more diverse demographic. Last year, 40% of first-time campers said they identified as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color. Hispanics are a big part of the new campers.

As always fun, we can blame the youngsters for making it harder for us older people to find a campsite. KOA reports that millennials have taken up camping at an unprecedented pace, making finding an available campground harder than ever.

While it’s harder to cordon off a campground, I’m glad more people are happy to get out in a tent, pop-up, small RV, or large RV.

It’s a great way to enjoy the great outdoors and meet new people in a relaxed atmosphere where much of the division and stress in today’s society evaporates in the smoke of a campfire.

Tim Krohn can be contacted at [email protected] or 507-720-1300.