May 5, 2020

INTERNATIONAL FALLS, Minn. (AP) -Minnesota’s two premier camping destinations will remain closed to overnight visitors for the duration of Gov. Tim Walz’s stay-at-home order.

Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness announced Monday that they will be open for day recreation, but will not issue camping or houseboat mooring permits through May 17.

The decision to restrict access to the Boundary Waters during what is typically the start of the season was “particularly difficult,” said Connie Cummins, Superior National Forest supervisor. “I’m looking forward to the day when we can safely reopen sites for overnight use,” she said.

Billy Dougherty, owner of Rainy Lake Houseboats in International Falls, says the governor’s decision to include restrictions on public and private campgrounds in his stay-at-home emergency order makes little sense to the businesses and communities of northern Minnesota that rely on spring and summer tourism.

The U.S. Forest Service said that it will refund all overnight reservations at the Boundary Waters and in Superior National Forest that were made through May 17.