The calls and emails have been pouring in daily to Wadena County Parks Administrator Deana Malone from people pining for a campsite. She sought and was given approval from the Wadena County board Tuesday, June 2, to reopen campgrounds to overnight camping starting Friday, June 5.

The reopening will follow guidelines set by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Face masks are recommended but not required. Campers are asked to respect social distancing and restrict the number of campers in a site to no more than 10 at a time.

One of the DNR guidelines, highlighted by Commissioner Jon Kangas, is that campsites must be 50 feet apart from center lines of surrounding campsite spurs and the adjacent campsite, or at least 30 feet apart from the near sides of adjoining spurs. If you arrive and find campsites closer than that are occupied, you must not camp there. A campsite marked as “unavailable” must not be occupied by campers. Kangas felt the spacing restrictions were too restrictive, more restrictive than those of indoor areas like the county courthouse, which is expected to begin reopening June 15. He wanted to see all campsites opened as they are already spaced apart and are found in the outdoors.

“In my mind, it would be better just to open them all,” Kangas said.

Commission chair Chuck Horsager said perhaps the state will relax those guidelines in the near future to allow a full reopening.

Malone said there will be signage alerting visitors to the rules to follow. Campers are responsible for bringing their own sanitizers to sanitize common use items like the outhouse or pump handles and use at their own risk.

The latest information about campsite availability is to be posted on the Wadena County website under the News section.

Commissioner Bill Stearns said he would like to see the outhouses pumped monthly at each of the county campgrounds as a health precaution. Malone responded that doing so may not be a good use of money as it can cost $100 each time at each outhouse. She agreed that there can be a smell but that the outhouses are properly vented. She said park staff would monitor outhouses to determine if more pumping was needed. Some campgrounds see more use than others.

All commissioners were in favor of allowing the reopening Friday. With that, Malone shared her gratitude.

“Thank you very much and your campers are going to thank you, too,” Malone said.

Where to camp?

The Wadena County overnight campgrounds include:

  • Anderson’s Crossing
  • Bullard’s Bluff
  • Cottingham
  • Frame’s Landing
  • Knob Hill
  • Little White Dog
  • McGivern
  • Old Wadena
  • Stigman’s Mound
  • Tree Farm Landing