Summertime in Minnesota often means it's time for a camping trip.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources provided a list of top 10 camping tips from their I Can Camp! program to help summer campers remain safe and have fun.
1. Plan ahead
The more time you spend preparing for your trip the more time you can spend relaxing while at camp. Take time to plan meals, arrival time (before dark) and of course make camping reservations ahead time so you can get the spot you want.
2. Explore the campground
When you arrive at camp spend a few minutes getting acquainted with your new surroundings. Locate the essentials, such as bathrooms, showers, water and garbage stations. This will make it a lot easier to find them later, when it's dark.
3. Plan your tent placement
This is very important, especially if there is a chance of rain. A good tent site will keep you dry and comfortable. A good tent site is on high, level ground away from any hazards such as overhanging trees and nearby fire pits.
4. Pay attention to your food
When you're not cooking or eating, store your food in a safe location. Some campsites offer critter safe storage; otherwise, storing food in your car is a good option.
5. Watch the weather
Keep an eye on the weather. Weather can change quickly in the summer months, so pay attention to the forecast and always listen to park rangers in a weather emergency.
6. Never leave a campfire unattended
Campfires are a highlight of every camping trip, but be sure to play it safe, especially with young children. Fires should be controlled at all times. Never leave a fire unattended and always make sure it is completely extinguished before leaving or going to bed. Purchase your firewood at the park to avoid the spread of insect pests.
7. Take only pictures, leave only footprints
All artifacts found in state parks are protected and should remain there. However, picking nuts, berries and mushrooms is allowed in state parks. Always clean up after yourself. Your campsite should be left better than the way you found it.
8. Pack the essentials
Be sure to pack items such as sunscreen, sunglasses, bug spray, and a family first aid kit. All of these items will help to keep you and your family safe and comfortable on your camping trip.
9. Ask park staff for tips
When you arrive, find out if any special programs are scheduled, and ask park staff to recommend things to see and do during your stay. They can tell you where to see wildlife and help you choose a trail that's not too long or difficult for your kids to enjoy.
10. Attend an I Can Camp! program
at a Minnesota state park
Instruction and equipment are provided (including tent, comfy air mattresses and cook stove) at these programs for just $35 (one night) or $50 (two nights).
The DNR is scheduled to host several I Can Camp! programs in the area this summer including at Lake Bemidji, Glendalough, Itasca, Buffalo River and Maplewood State Parks. For more information, visit www.mndnr.gov/ican
State park locations
There are several campgrounds in northern Minnesota where these tips could be helpful. The campgrounds offer everything from swimming to hiking, biking to fishing.
Lake Bemidji State Park
Lake Bemidji State Park offers several campsites and trails.
Activities include swimming, boating, fishing, bird-watching, hiking, camping, biking, picnicking, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and naturalist-led activities.
Buffalo River State Park
Buffalo River State Park offers camping, swimming and picnic area, located in the forest along the Buffalo River, with trails through the prairies.
Itasca State Park
Established in 1891, Itasca is Minnesota's oldest state park. Today, the park totals more than 32,000 acres and includes more than 100 lakes.
Here, visitors can walk across the headwaters of the Mississippi River. They can also visit the Itasca Indian Cemetery or Preacher's Grove.
There are also miles of trails for hiking and biking.
La Salle Lake State Recreation Area
Located north of Itasca State Park, La Salle Lake State Recreation Area offers camping, fishing, hiking, hunting, canoeing and kayaking.
It's near the 213 foot deep, 221-acre LaSalle Lake, with walleye, bluegill, northern pike and crappie populations, and surrounded by forest.
Maplewood State Park
Eight lakes and many ponds offer Maplewood State Park visitors many opportunities for swimming, fishing and boating.
There's also a beach, picnic areas and trails.
Glendalough State Park
Glendalough State Park offers a 335 acre non-motorized "Heritage Fishery," which is Annie Battle Lake.
The park also offers canoeing and kayaking, and several hiking trails through forest and prairie.