With temperatures regularly hovering above freezing throughout the day, Minnesotans are looking ahead to warmer weather activities — preparing their gardens, firing up the grill, going biking and breaking out their camping gear for the upcoming season. Here are a few tips for campers as they prepare to get back outdoors and sleep under the stars.

Test run

With the inconsistency of Minnesota weather, especially in the spring, consider setting up camp close to home the first time you head out this season.

There’s a variety of camping experiences for locals to choose from within the Three Rivers Park District without having to venture too far out, said Bri Koch, park operations supervisor at Baker Campground.

“We're only 20 minutes from the Twin Cities, easy to get to, if you come out and forget something it's not a huge issue to run home and grab it and come back, so for a lot of people it's a great starting point, especially if you're looking to go up north or further away from home,” she said, adding that Baker, Lake Auburn and Cleary Lake campgrounds are good starting points for a first time out.

Whatever the weather

Spring may be one of the best times of the year to go camping. Due to a bit less predictable weather, you probably won’t find as many other campers vying for that preferred campsite, but that’s also what campers should be most prepared for. Always check the weather before you head out for a spring camping trip, Koch said.

After months of frigid temps, a nearly 50 degree day can feel like summer, but nights will remain cool.

“Make sure you come properly dressed in layers, you never know what the weather’s going to be in the springtime,” said Tom Balk, park operations supervisor at Cleary Lake Regional Park, which is operated in partnership with Scott County.

He recommends campers always have rain gear on hand and bring plastic bags to keep things dry if it rains.

“You can still have a lot of fun camping as long as you're prepared for the weather,” Koch said.

When the weather’s nice, campers can access the lake, hit the golf course or bike trails at Cleary Park, Balk said, and Baker Campground offers hiking, biking and watercraft rentals, Koch said. But if you do experience spring showers, come prepared with activities to do inside your camper or tent “or be prepared to journey out and do some puddle jumping,” Koch added.

Camper cabins are available for reservation and a good option for the start of the season as it requires less gear and ensures you’ll stay dry during your trip, she said.

Make a reservation

Balk and Koch recommend campers plan ahead for more than just the weather. Campsites fill up quickly, so reserve your spot before you go.

“The sooner the better, specifically for weekends, we do fill up pretty much most weekends,” Balk said.

They’ve noticed campgrounds have become more popular destinations since the start of the pandemic and they anticipate they’ll see the same trend this season.

“There were a lot more people camping last year even during the weekdays, because I think people are working from home and they have more flexibility in their schedules,” Koch said. “Camping is just something you can do safely, you can do it within your household, you can do it at a campsite.”

While they still recommend you make a reservation, the spring is a bit slower, Balk said.

“It is a good time to come out and not have to worry about crowds and someone walking in on your site so you're definitely on your own a little more and it’s less busy, so if that's the experience you're looking for I think spring’s a good time for that,” he said.

The camping season typically begins at the end of April and concludes at the end of October. There are nine camping locations within the Three Rivers Park District and campsites and cabin reservations can be made up to a year in advance.

For more information on different camping experiences, locations or to reserve a site, visit https://www.threeriversparks.org/camping.

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