Jul 12, 2021 - Things to Do
Minnesota's rush to the great outdoors
Data: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The pandemic has introduced and reintroduced Minnesotans to the outdoors.

Driving the news: Sales of annual state park permits are up 60% so far this year compared with the first half of 2021, according to data from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

  • Campsite and cabin occupancies at state parks are also way up in the first half of 2021, compared to 2019.
  • Campers reserved 142,000 individual sites from January through June this year, an increase of 37% over the same period in 2019.

Of note: State campgrounds were closed for part of 2020, so it's not a good year for comparisons.

Zoom out: It's not just Minnesota. National park visits are also surging this year.

  • For example, Grand Teton National Park visits were up 30% in May and camping nearly doubled over the same month of 2019, according to CNN.

Yes, but: State park permit sales and campsite reservations slowed down in June — both camping and park pass sales were up only 15% compared to June 2019.

  • There's a lot more to do now with restaurants reopening, gyms returning to full capacity, air travel picking up and sporting events and concerts coming back.

Our thought bubble: It's great that people have gotten back out into nature, but don't forget to pick up your trash.

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