COVID-19 Response

Guidance for Campgrounds and Charter and Boat Launches

View these guidelines for safely reopening your outdoor recreation business.

In response to Governor Walz’s Stay Safe MN Executive Order 20-56 regarding the COVID-19 pandemic we are postponing, adjusting, and canceling a variety of public events and services.

Please frequently check this page, as well as the DNR’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts.

DNR/MDH outdoor guidelines

Minnesota’s Stay Safe MN, Executive Order 20-56, encourages healthy and safe outdoor activities such as walking, running, and fishing and hunting. Minnesotans can continue to enjoy parks, trails, and other public recreation lands, consistent with any limitations established by the land administrator. We urge people engaging in outdoor activities to:

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions we’re receiving. Please check this page often for updates.


Boating

Can I still go boating during the Stay Safe MN Order?

Yes, but remember that you should maintain recommended social distance when boating. Therefore, you may want to consider boating only with those in your household.  If you boat with people not from your household, most boaters will need to limit passengers to one or two to maintain a minimum six-foot distance between people from different households. Vessel size and design will affect capacity compatible with social distancing. Maintain social distancing between boats while launching and while on the water. Put safety first, wear a life jacket, and limit interactions at the boat ramp or dock. After boating, clean and drain your boat and dispose of unwanted bait in the trash to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. All boating laws are in place.

Can I put out my dock/lift during the Stay Safe MN Order?

Yes. Lake Service providers that install, repair and remove docks, lifts and other water related equipment are allowed to do work under Executive Order 20-56. You may also install this equipment yourself.

Will watercraft inspections take place at the boat launches this season?

Yes, watercraft inspectors will be at public accesses in 2020. The DNR and many local governments are working hard to deploy watercraft inspectors around the state, in a manner that is safe and consistent with public health guidelines and applicable Executive Orders.

As a reminder, to help prevent aquatic invasive species, Minnesota law requires boaters and anglers to Clean, Drain, Dispose every time, whether or not a watercraft inspector or conservation officer is present.

Boat/ATV/OHV Registration and Renewals

How do I renew my boat/ATV/OHV registration when deputy registrar offices are closed?

Renew your watercraft, ATV, Snowmobile, Off-highway Motorcycle or ORV online. You will receive a temporary permit for immediate use.

How do I transfer a non-titled boat when deputy registrar offices are closed?

Non-titled boats require a bill of sale from the seller to the buyer that includes the boat description, registration number, hull identification number, seller’s name, buyer’s name, and seller’s signature. Complete the universal registration form and mail it along with the bill of sale. Fees vary depending on length, use, type of boat, and registration expiration. If you have questions, please contact the DNR at 888-646-6367. Please have your complete boat description (including registration number, hull identification number, and boat length) handy to expedite your call.

How do I transfer my Minnesota-titled boat when deputy registrar offices are closed?

If titled, the seller must sign the title certificate. The buyer’s name also must be printed on the title certificate, and the buyer must complete the back of the certificate. Fees vary depending on length, use, type of boat, and registration expiration. If you have questions, please contact the DNR at 888-646-6367. Please have your title and complete boat description (including registration number, hull identification number, and boat length) handy to expedite your call.

How do I register a boat that does not require a title?

To register a boat that has not previously been registered in Minnesota, complete the universal registration form or title application form if you chose to title. Include the bill of sale and the manufacturer statement of origin if you chose to title. Fees vary depending on length, use, type of boat and registration expiration. Proof of sales tax must be included. If purchased out of state, the difference in sales tax must be included if less than 6.875%. Local taxes may also be required. (Sales/use tax does not apply to private party sales.) NOTE: Titling is optional for watercraft older than 1980 and less than 16 feet. If you have questions, please contact the DNR at 888-646-6367.

How do I register a boat that requires a Minnesota title but was purchased out of state from a private party?

To register a boat that has not previously been registered in Minnesota, complete a title and registration application form and include the out-of-state title signed by the seller. Fees vary depending on length, use, and type of boat. Sales/use tax does not apply to private party sales. If you have questions, please contact the DNR at 888-646-6367.

How do I register a new boat that requires a Minnesota title but was purchased from an out-of-state dealer?

Complete a title and registration application form. Include the manufacturer’s statement of origin and proof of sales tax. The difference in sales tax must be included if less than 6.875%. Local taxes may also be required. Title and registration fees vary depending on length, use, type of boat and registration expiration. If you have questions, please contact the DNR at 888-646-6367.

Burn Permits

Can I activate a burn permit?

The DNR will be cautiously lifting burning restrictions as spring green-up progresses south to north through the state over the next few weeks. Check the burning restrictions page for current information before any burning. Where burning restrictions are lifted, you may obtain a burning permit online.  Where restrictions remain, DNR will grant variance permits only for agricultural field and construction site preparation, and limited prescribed burning. In addition, Township Fire Wardens can now resume issuing burning permits. It is possible that some Township Fire Wardens will choose not to resume issuing permits at this time. Call your local DNR Forestry Office for information on which Township Fire Wardens are providing service at this time or to seek a variance.  Small recreational fires are allowed statewide, except where restricted by the land manager or local unit of government.

Camping

Can I camp right now?

Yes, but only under certain circumstances. Dispersed camping and remote camping are allowed under Minnesota’s Stay Safe Order for members of a single household. Public and private developed campgrounds remain closed to recreational camping through May 31, but may reopen on June 1 if they follow recently developed Industry Guidance for Campgrounds and develop a Preparedness Plan.

On DNR-managed lands, three types of camping are available, only some of which are currently allowed.

Dispersed Camping in State Forests:

  • As of May 18, 2020, dispersed camping is allowed in Minnesota state forests (no reservation is required). Dispersed camping is never allowed in Minnesota state parks and recreation areas, according to Minnesota State Rules.
  • More information about dispersed camping in state forests is available on our dispersed camping webpage.

Remote Camping in State Parks:

  • Beginning May 22, 2020, limited remote camping opened in a few state parks.
  • Beginning May 29, 2020, additional remote campsites will open in a number of state parks.

Developed Campgrounds in State Parks, Recreation Areas and State Forests:

  • Developed campgrounds on DNR-managed lands remain closed to recreational camping through May 31, but begin a phased reopening on June 1.
  • This includes all state forest campgrounds and all state park and recreation area campgrounds, group camps, camper cabins, yurts, tipis, cabins.
When will DNR campgrounds reopen?

The DNR will reopen its campgrounds at state parks, forests and recreation areas in a phased approach beginning June 1.

The DNR plans to open campgrounds as soon as they are ready, but not all campgrounds will reopen on June 1. Check our campground reopening webpage for more details. The DNR anticipates the following general timeline:

  • June 1: The DNR anticipates having 37 of its campgrounds within state parks, recreation areas and forest campgrounds ready to open, with limited services. Some lodging options, such as camper cabins and yurts, will also open on June 1. In general, visitors can expect that water systems will be turned on, grounds will be maintained, and vault toilets/porta-toilets will be available. However, some value-added services may not be ready at that point, such as showers and ranger stations.
  • June 8: The DNR will reopen another 20-30 campgrounds and lodging facilities, the rest of its remote campsites and some of its ranger stations.
  • June 15: The DNR plans to have most of its remaining campgrounds open in state parks, recreation areas, and forests. Additional services, including the Mary Gibbs Café at Itasca State Park, fish cleaning buildings and some nature stores will reopen with reduced capacities.

 

I have reservations for a campground that is not open yet. Do I need to cancel them? Will I get a refund?

Some campgrounds will be ready for overnight visitors on June 1; others will require a little more time to get ready. The DNR is assessing conditions and staffing and will post estimated park-specific opening dates on our campground reopening webpage when more information is available.

All existing reservations for June 1 and later are being held until the DNR determines the specific reopening schedule for each state park and recreation area campground. 

The vast majority of campgrounds will reopen by mid-June. If you have a reservation for a date before the campground that you selected reopens, your reservation will be canceled automatically and you will receive an electronic gift card with a full refund. If you prefer, you may modify your reservation to a future date or a different location with available sites. The DNR will continue to waive cancelation and modification fees for reservations affected by campground closures.

If campgrounds are opening June 1, why can’t I make a reservation for June?

Until the DNR determines the specific reopening schedule for each state park, recreation area and forest campground, we are not accepting new reservations. Discontinuing new June reservations in the short term is allowing staff to catch up on April/May refunds and focus their energies on site reopening activities. We will resume taking new reservations for each state park and recreation area as soon as we know that unit’s specific reopening date. We will email existing reservation holders about the status of their June reservations as soon as possible. Check our campground reopening webpage for more details.

Are dump and fill stations still open even though the campgrounds are closed?

Dump stations will reopen when the campgrounds reopen.

Firearms Safety Training

How can my child or I complete firearms safety training?

The DNR has modified firearms safety certification requirements on an interim basis as a result of COVID-19. Both in-person classroom training and in-person field days are postponed until further notice. Students of all ages may take their classroom training online. Students age 14 and older may also complete a virtual field day instead of the traditional in-person field day by signing up for and completing the online hunter safety course. Students ages 12 and 13 who want to hunt this fall but are unable to complete their in-person field day are encouraged to use the apprentice hunter validation.

Fishing

Am I allowed to go fishing during the Stay Safe MN Order?

Yes. Getting outside for activities like fishing is healthy as long as you do so in a way that is safe for you and others. This includes fishing close to home and minding your social distancing at all times – in your vehicle, in your boat, and at the launch. You should maintain at least  six feet of separation from anyone who is not a member of your immediate household.

Do all fishing regulations apply or have they been relaxed because of the Stay Safe MN Order?

All 2020 fishing regulations need to be followed. No fishing regulations have been relaxed because of the Stay Safe MN Order.

How far can I travel to go fishing during the Stay Safe MN Order?

Consistent with state and federal guidance to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect our neighbors, Minnesotans are discouraged by EO 20-56 from unnecessary travel. If travel is necessary to engage in fishing or other authorized outdoor recreation, the following will help you minimize potential points of virus transmission: 

  • Travel as directly to your destination as possible, and minimize stops along the way.
  • Attempt to bring all needed supplies with you.
  • If you do need to stop for gas or supplies, wear a cloth face covering
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after touching common surfaces (gas pumps, door handles, shared bathrooms, etc.).
  • Do not travel if sick.
Do I still need a fishing license during the Stay Safe MN Order?

Yes, all of the 2020 fishing license requirements still apply. You may purchase a license online or call 888-665-4236.

What are my options for purchasing a fishing license if I don’t want to go into a store?

You may purchase a license online or call 888-665-4236.

Can non-residents travel to Minnesota to fish?

The Stay Safe MN Order does not prevent travel in and out of the state. However, when in Minnesota, all visitors must comply with the order. Traveling long distances to Minnesota for the purpose of fishing is not in the spirit of the order.

Can I use the services of a fishing guide?

Yes, as long as only one or two people are being guided at a time and guides comply with all DNR/MDH outdoor recreational guidelines.

Can I buy bait?

Bait stores are allowed to be open to sell live bait. Bait stores may also sell other retail products, as long as they comply with all current retail operator requirements.

Hunting

Can I go hunting during the Stay Safe MN Order?

Yes. Hunting seasons will open as usual.

Do all hunting regulations apply or have they been relaxed because of the Stay Safe MN Order?

All 2020 hunting regulations must be followed.

How far can I travel to go hunting during the Stay Safe MN Order?

Consistent with state and federal guidance to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect our neighbors, Minnesotans are discouraged by EO 20-56 from unnecessary travel. If travel is necessary to engage in hunting or other authorized outdoor recreation, the following will help you minimize potential points of virus transmission: 

  • Travel as directly to your destination as possible, and minimize stops along the way.
  • Attempt to bring all needed supplies with you.
  • If you do need to stop for gas or supplies, wear a cloth face covering.
  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after touching common surfaces (gas pumps, door handles, shared bathrooms, etc.).
  • Do not travel if sick.
Do I still need a hunting license during the Stay Safe MN Order?

Yes, all 2020 hunting license requirements still apply. You may purchase a license online or call 888-665-4236.

What are my options for purchasing a hunting license if I don’t want to go into a store?

You may purchase a license online or call 888-665-4236

Can non-residents travel to Minnesota to hunt?

Minnesota’s Stay At Home Order does not prevent travel in and out of the state. However, when in Minnesota, all visitors must comply with the order. Traveling long distances to Minnesota for the purpose of hunting is not in the spirit of the order.

Programs and Meetings

Are DNR programs, events, trainings, and meetings canceled?

Many DNR-sponsored events, trainings, and meetings have been canceled, postponed, or transitioned to an online format. This includes:

  • Safety education training, including in-person firearms safety training (see firearms safety question above for details regarding online options)
  • Workshops and clinics, including Becoming an Outdoors Woman and Fishing in the Neighborhood
  • Fishery tours
  • Educational trainings, including Project Learning Tree, WET, and WILD trainings
  • Naturalist programs
  • Most volunteer activities

We will update this page, and our events calendar, as further changes are made, and will announce resumption of various programs when that occurs.

Are public meetings canceled?

While in-person public meetings have been canceled for now, public engagement on DNR issues and projects is a top priority. As such, the DNR is exploring a range of digital options to support public meetings and other critical engagement opportunities. Please check this page frequently for updates about how the DNR will accomplish this.

Public Accesses/Docks

Are public access docks available?

Conditions at water access sites may differ from those encountered in previous years. For example, while DNR-managed accesses are open, spring maintenance is not completed and amenities such as courtesy docks will not be in place in some locations. Other public and private access sites may not be open.

State Parks

What is open?

The following are CURRENTLY OPEN:

  • All state parks except Grand Portage State Park are open for day use.
  • Some bathrooms, vault toilets and shower buildings are open, but visitors are asked to bring their own hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes given rustic conditions in most state parks.

Beginning June 1, SOME of the following will begin to reopen, based on conditions and staffing:

  • Campgrounds
  • Remote campsites
  • Camper cabins, yurts, and non-housekeeping cabins
  • State forest campgrounds

Many sites will have more limited services when they reopen (e.g., shower buildings may need to remain closed for a while). Some campgrounds will also operate at reduced capacity.

What is closed?

The following are CLOSED until further notice:

  • Beaches and pond pools
  • Housekeeping cabins, Douglas Lodge and dine-in food services
  • Visitor centers and trail centers
  • Many of the smaller state park ranger stations
  • Group centers
  • Fire towers
  • Scheduled interpretive programs and group tours

Note that the following facilities are closed until May 31. However, beginning June 1, SOME of the following will begin to reopen, based on conditions and staffing:

  • Campgrounds
  • Remote campsites
  • Camper cabins, yurts, and non-housekeeping cabins
  • State forest campgrounds
How can I get my free disability State Parks pass if the offices are closed?

Gooseberry Falls State Park is managing all disability and veterans passes. Please contact them for more information:

Gooseberry Falls State Park
3206 Highway 61 East
Two Harbors, MN 55616
 218-595-7100
 [email protected]

How can I purchase a hiking or passport club kit?

Contact Gooseberry Falls State Park at 218-595-7100 to purchase a hiking or passport club kit over the phone while the nature stores are closed. It will be mailed out to you.

Will the Aquatic Geocaching series be extended?

Yes. The new deadline for the Aquatic Geocaching Quest is October 31, 2021.

Are dump and fill stations still open even though the campgrounds are closed?

Dump stations will reopen when the campgrounds reopen.

Trails

Are ATV Trails open?

Yes, you may ride an ATV/OHV on designated open trails during the Stay Safe MN Order. Always check the OHV trail closures page before you head out. Some trails open later than others, or may close temporarily during the season, due to wet conditions. Choose trails close to your home. Share an ATV/OHV only with members of your immediate household and avoid congregating at parking lots and rest stops.

Are state park trails open?

Yes, trails are open for day use. Before visiting, please check the park’s website for seasonal condition closures or other travel alerts.

Are state forest trails open?

Yes, trails and roads are open for day use. Before visiting, please check the state forest road closures website for seasonal closures.

When will horse trails open?

The regular season for horse trails is May 1 to Nov 1, though some horse trails may remain closed until the ground dries out. Horse campgrounds will remain closed through May 31 or further notice.


Other questions

If this page does not answer your questions, please check the outdoor recreation guidelines. You may also email the DNR’s Information Center or call 888-646-6367.