Mich. DNR Touting New Reservation System

September 18, 2013 by · Comments Off on Mich. DNR Touting New Reservation System 

A new and improved central reservation system that manages Michigan state park camping, lodging and harbor reservations will be launched in November.
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced the plans for the new system Tuesday (Sept. 17),, Traverse City, reported.

The DNR Parks and Recreation Division contracts with Camis USA Inc., to provide the reservation system, including a call center in Ann Arbor and servers in Southfield. The previous contractor’s term expired and Camis was selected through a bidding process.

“We are pleased to offer our outdoor customers the most up-to-date technology to make their reservations at state parks, recreation areas and harbors,” said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division.

On Nov. 3, the system opens to facilities with a six-month reservation window. These include campsites at state parks and select state forest campgrounds and slips at state harbors. During the short transition period, Nov. 1-2, campsites are not reservable. For stays with an arrival of Nov. 1 or 2, campsites will be available at parks on a first-come, first-served basis.

“As we approach Nov. 1, customers will be mildly affected by the system changeover,” said Christa Sturtevant-Good, DNR central reservation system liaison. “There will be some down time on the reservation website for approximately a week while we’re switching to the new application, but we will keep updates available as the new system is implemented. These reservation enhancements, many of which were requested by our customers, will improve overall camper and boater experiences.”

During the transition phase, system updates are available by visiting the DNR website.

Customers can expect many enhancements when making reservations in November. Online improvements include the ability to search by region, check availability at more than one park at a time, view photos of each campsite prior to making a selection, and more. Customers will also navigate through fewer screens prior to making a reservation.

Seasonal availability needs are also addressed with the new system. Regardless of the season, customers can make site-specific reservations for available campsites and lodging at open parks. Convenient registration during the shoulder season (September through May) is also part of the new system.

“Park staff can be limited within the shoulder season due to reduced staffing levels, maintenance and other operational needs typically handled during this time,” said Jason Fleming, DNR parks and recreation operations unit manager. “It’s also the time of year when campers are more likely to check availability right at the park rather than by making reservations. To address this customer need, we’re implementing a registration phone station right at the park.”

This registration station, available by the campground office during the shoulder season, includes a “yellow phone” that automatically contacts the Ann Arbor call center when the receiver is lifted. Campers can conveniently register right there, without staff present, and then continue on to their campsite or lodging.

“We’ve spent a great deal of time listening to the many suggestions offered by our customers on ways to make our reservation system more user-friendly and practical,” said Denise Gruben, DNR reservation system contact manager. “In November, many of those suggestions will be implemented, creating a quality product that will greatly enhance our customers’ experiences.”

Camping and harbor reservations can currently be made for stay dates through Oct. 31. When transitioned to the new system, the reservation phone number and website address will remain the same. Call (800) 44-PARKS or visit to make reservations.


Mich.’s State Park Camping Sites Packed Too!

August 29, 2013 by · Comments Off on Mich.’s State Park Camping Sites Packed Too! 

Michiganders may look for an escape closer to home at the state’s parks and harbors for camping this holiday weekend.

Most state travelers, 91%, will be driving, with campgrounds, resort areas, and lakes among the favorite destinations, according to AAA Michigan, the Detroit News reported.

According to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), 93% of all camping spaces at state parks have been booked for the weekend. Of the state’s 85 parks, 61 are completely or nearly filled to capacity. It’s a similar story at many harbors.

“We do have a few places here and there that have vacancies,” said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR’s parks and recreation division. “But a lot of the popular spots aren’t available.”

Olson said the DNR is expecting another big turnout for Labor Day weekend.

“As the economy improves, we’ve seen an upswing each year,” he said. “And since most students don’t start school until after Labor Day, that helps ensure stability.”

Visit for update on available sites.


The North Face & Michigan Offer ‘Camping 101’

August 2, 2013 by · Comments Off on The North Face & Michigan Offer ‘Camping 101’ 

Camping 101  update

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and The North Face are teaming up to offer “Camping 101” at Michigan state parks to educate first-time campers on the basics of camping, Outdoor News Daily reported.

The “Camping 101” experience includes a two-night stay with all the gear, guides and good times included for just $20. It begins with a First-Timers Welcome Kit filled with details on what to pack, what to expect and what to wear. Then, when visitors check in at their campsite, park staff members will walk them through the process of setting up camp and settling in for a great Michigan adventure.

As part of their “Camping 101” stay, visitors will receive a prime camping location, tent, tarp, flashlight, lantern, camp stove and four hot dog/marshmallow cookers. All equipment is provided courtesy of The North Face and must be returned at the end of the camping trip.

Click here to read the entire story.



Camis to Run Mich. State Park Reservations

February 18, 2013 by · Comments Off on Camis to Run Mich. State Park Reservations 

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently announced that a new Michigan contractor, Camis Inc., will manage an improved state park campground and harbor reservation system, the Holland Sentinel reported.

“Camis was selected in a competitive bid process, as they focused on providing excellent software and customer service solutions that we believe will make it easier and more convenient to make state park campground and harbor reservations,” said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division.

Camis USA, a subsidiary of Camis Inc., opened its doors to a new Ann Arbor headquarters in late January, with an initial focus on providing help desk and call center services to its U.S.-based clientele. Camis’ new and improved version of the DNR’s current Central Reservation System is expected to be active by November 2013.

“We expect to hire both technical and customer service representatives throughout the year who will work out of our new 60-seat Ann Arbor facility,” said Jeff Smith, vice president of product development for Camis. “We are offering full-time, part-time and seasonal employment opportunities. As Camis continues to grow, these opportunities will expand to include the hiring of trainers, project managers and technical managers.”

Camis Inc. started in 1979 as a whole park contractor under the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources in Canada. Based in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, Camis supports systems which include more than 400 workstations across North America.

Since the 1990s, Camis has continuously refined software to improve functionality and financial management for numerous park systems within North America. The company has been providing park reservation services for the state of Washington since 2001, as well as for its Canadian clients. They offer superior call center service and an intuitive reservation website that conveniently includes campsite photos and broad availability search options for its customers.

“Camis has produced a robust, flexible, scalable campground reservation system that has proven to be successful in applications across North America,” said Doug Hall, owner and president of Camis.

For more information about Camis Inc. and Camis USA, visit




Michigan DNR Seeking State Campground Hosts

November 26, 2012 by · Comments Off on Michigan DNR Seeking State Campground Hosts 

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has announced it wants to hear from residents interested in spending their summer enjoying Michigan’s great outdoors while providing a valuable service, serving as hosts at Michigan state parks and state forest campgrounds for the 2013 camping season.

Hosts direct visitors to their campsites, answer questions about the park or state forest, arrange campground activities and perform light maintenance and other services, depending on their talents and interests. In return for their volunteer service, hosts are allowed to camp in the state park or state forest campground at no charge, the Ludington Daily News reported.

Hosts can be individuals or teams. They must be at least 18 years old, provide 30 hours of service per week (including weekends and holidays), serve a minimum of four consecutive weeks and furnish their own camping unit, equipment and personal items. Some host assignments will begin as early as April, with some assignments lasting through October.

Successful applicants are chosen by park and forest managers, who may require an interview or request additional information. Selection is based on the individual’s familiarity with the state park or state forest system, his or her camping experience, special skills, availability, knowledge of the area, and the needs of the specific park or forest campground.

Host training for the 2013 camping season will be held sometime in middle to late April 2013 at the Ralph A. MacMullan Conference Center in Roscommon. Special arrangements can be made for those who cannot make the training dates.

Applications and information about the host program are available on the DNR website, Those interested in serving as campground hosts at a state park should apply directly to the park of their choice.

For more information on the DNR’s campground host program in state parks or state forest campgrounds, contact Miguel Rodriguez at (517) 241-4129.


Mich. Alters Campground Reservation System

October 29, 2012 by · Comments Off on Mich. Alters Campground Reservation System 

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has announced that in November 2013 it will change its campground reservation system (CRS).

The DNR says the transition will mean a new, improved CRS that will manage state park and harbor reservations. The DNR says the new system has features that will ultimately enhance customers’ experience online and on the phone, WNEM-TV, Saginaw, reported.

Because the DNR’s current reservation system has varying lengths of time for advance bookings, customers may notice short-term impacts beginning next month. Reservations for lodging (such as camper cabins, mini cabins, rustic cabins, yurts and modern lodges) typically have a one-year window for advance booking.

As the transition date for the new reservation system approaches, however, that advance-registration opportunity will shorten. Lodging reservations can be made in the current system, either online or through the call center, for stays through the end of October 2013.

Reservations in the new system will be accepted beginning November 2013. When the DNR fully transfers to the new system, the one-year window of advance registration for lodging will be restored. Customers will be informed as plans for the new system progress.

“Our goal is to have a state-of-the art reservation system that matches the beauty and quality of our state parks and harbors,” said Denise Gruben, manager of the DNR campground reservation system. “We will make every effort to make this transition as seamless as possible for our customers while we move to this new system that will ultimately serve them better.”

Camping and harbor slip reservations have a six-month advance reservation window and are not yet affected by the changeover. The window for these reservations will begin to shrink in May 2013 and will be accepted through the current system through the end of October 2013. Reservations in the new system will be accepted at the beginning of November 2013, when the six-month window for advance reservations will be restored.


Michigan Parks Book Millionth Camp Night

October 24, 2012 by · Comments Off on Michigan Parks Book Millionth Camp Night 

Campers George W. and Elizabeth Angerer of Roseville, Mich. (center) celebrate booking the 1 millionth camp night of the 2012 season in Michigan state parks. The Halloween season was in full force at the park where they stayed, as seen by their wellwishers.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) marked an attendance milestone for state parks on Oct. 19 by celebrating its 1 millionth camp night of the 2012 camping season.

The 1 millionth camp night reservation for Algonac State Park’s River Front Campground in St. Clair County was made by George W. and Elizabeth Angerer of Roseville, Mich. The Angerers received a Pure Michigan prize package including a free weekend of camping, a $100 gift certificate from Gander Mountain and Pure Michigan apparel upon arriving at their campsite. The gifts were presented by acting Bay City district supervisor George Lauringer and Algonac State Park unit supervisor Dennis Wilson, according to a DNR news release.

“I’m really excited to be the millionth reservation. This is how we spend our vacations,” said George Angerer. “We’re working on visiting every state park in Michigan.”

“Having our state parks reach 1 million camp nights – a milestone we have not hit since 2005 – reflects a healthy love of the outdoors and a healthy state parks system,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “The milestone also reflects healthy communities, because we know the success of state parks gives a positive boost to local economies.”

Michigan state parks have reported a strong surge in campground visitors this year with a 7% increase in reservations over the 2011 season.

“The 2012 season started with a nearly sold-out Memorial Day Weekend, and attendance remained steadily high as park visitors sought relief from the summer’s exceptionally long stretches of hot, dry weather,” said DNR Parks and Recreation Division Chief Ron Olson. “The trend was an indication to us that we possibly were on track to see reservations topping 1 million camp nights.”

Harold Herta, chief of Resource Management for the Parks and Recreation Division, credited the rise in camping to both positive economic factors and the DNR’s fresh approach on outreach to state parks visitors.

“Many people looking to cut costs in their already-strained budgets have turned to the state parks as a way to stretch their vacation dollars,” Herta said. “Most people go camping because a weeklong trip can cost under $300 – compared with $3,000 and up, for example, for a week at Disney.”

Herta said camping in Michigan’s state parks has become even more cost-friendly with the introduction of the DNR’s Recreation Passport. The DNR has seen more residents looking for bargains opting to sign up for the annual $10 Passport when renewing their vehicle registration. The Passport, which in 2010 replaced the previous park stickers, was popular in 2011 and has seen 27% of Michigan residents checking “yes” for the Passport this year.

Herta also said the lower cost of gasoline earlier this summer prompted visitors to take their recreational vehicles on the road more often. Additionally, the DNR’s newly expanded options in alternative lodging; the increase in its award-winning Recreation 101 programs that offer expert instruction on 50 different kinds of recreational activities; group events such as outdoor movie nights; and educational programs like August’s Meteors & S’mores astronomy program have also increased the number of park visitors.

“For the $10 Recreation Passport, you have access to more than 100 state parks and over 1,000 free educational and recreational programs,” said Maia Stephens, recreation programmer for Michigan state parks and harbors. “We provide the gear and expert instruction, and visitors get to learn a new activity and all about Michigan’s natural and historic environment. It’s the best deal in entertainment in the state!”

Most of Michigan’s state parks now offer camper cabins, year-round occupancy yurts, cottages and lodges through the state parks’ central reservation system. The two, new deluxe rental cabins at Holly Recreation Area that offer two bedrooms, a kitchen and living area and a bathroom have been heavily booked since they opened in June.

“When you visit Michigan’s state parks and are surrounded with our forests, rivers, lakes and streams that have been here for thousands of years, it’s hard to imagine that changes ever occur here,” Olson said. “But the goal of our park system is to continually reinvent ourselves to suit this modern generation of campers while preserving all the natural elements they come here to experience. As the world gets more hectic, we think Michigan residents will continue to turn to their state parks as resources for rest and renewal.”


Michigan DNR: 2012 Best Season Since 1988

July 26, 2012 by · Comments Off on Michigan DNR: 2012 Best Season Since 1988 

Michigan’s great outdoors are “in” this summer as its state parks are drawing healthy attendance, Tri-County Times, Fenton, reported.

They can expect to see 25 million visitors — more than parks have seen since 1988, said Harold Herta of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“Attendance is up, reservations for campsites are up,” said DNR information officer Ed Golder. He said the DNR expects to hit 1 million “camp nights” this year. This is a way to measure camp attendance. One camp night means one person or group camped overnight at a Michigan state park.

A DNR news release said Michigan state parks should hit 1 million by August — the highest since 2005. The same news release said that camp nights are up 17 percent over last year.

“In 2010 we bottomed out, but we bounced back in 2011,” said Herta. “We’re seeing capacity crowds that we haven’t seen since the ‘80s. We’re having a banner year.”

Although motorists would prefer gas prices to be lower than they are, they haven’t “skyrocketed,” and Golder thinks this has also encouraged motorists to at least explore Michigan. He also said that warm weather drives attendees to water.

Above all, is the recreational passport that gives access to all state parks for $10 annually. “That’s been a huge success for the state,” said Golder. “That model has encouraged participation in state parks.” The recreation pass, he said, makes parks cheaper and more accessible than they were in previous years.

Nearly 25 percent of Michigan motorists opted for the recreation pass in 2011, exceeding the goal set by the DNR.

Camping Surge Chronicled in Michigan

June 25, 2012 by · Comments Off on Camping Surge Chronicled in Michigan 

 A slowing economy, predictions of a temperate summer and long-term gas price concerns are prodding consumers to look  toward their tents, pop-ups and recreational vehicles to get away from it all for a lower-cost family vacation, The Detroit News reported.

Advance reservations at state campgrounds are up 23 percent over last year, the second straight year of increases after a long decline, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). State parks are on track this year to break 1 million camp nights, a level the state has not experienced since 2005, state officials said.

Campgrounds and retailers specializing in camping gear say they had a booming Memorial Day, the traditional start of the camping season. That bodes well for the summer months, travel forecasters said.

“In surveys, RV owners say gas prices would have to hit $8 (a gallon) before they would consider skipping their outdoor vacations,” said William G. Sheffer, director of the Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds (MARVC), a trade association based in Okemos.

Singles, families and baby boomers are targets for an industry hungry for a comeback. Stores, trade groups and others are investing in emotional marketing campaigns, such as REI’s sponsorship in the “Great American Backyard Campout” effort. Its website promoting today’s event extols, “Remember that magic moment when you put up that tent all by yourself?”

Stores including Summit Sports, a small chain with two stores in Metro Detroit that began selling camping gear this year, also are promoting high-tech, lightweight gadgets options. One is Coleman’s LED Quad Lantern, a bright single unit that separates into four separate lanterns for those late-night bathroom treks.

There is an emphasis on easy-to-use gear and in-store instruction, said Fidel Carino, manager at Summit Sports in Brighton.

“We’re not going to send you out there without knowing how to use the equipment,” Carino said.

Public and private campgrounds also are adding amenities such as Wi-Fi, knowing the difficulty some people have going offline.

The new zip line in use at Flint/Holly KOA.

Some are offering comfortable rental RVs, cushy and untraditional camping entertainment options. Besides singing songs and roasting marshmallows, for example, campers can check out the new zip line, outdoor bowling and sand lagoon at the Flint/Holly KOA campground on Grange Hall Road near Flint.

Camper Programs Are Successful

These amenities are needed to hook first-time campers and convince former campers to try it again, said Mike Ebach, a Gander Mountain store manager in Traverse City and a partner in the state’s First Time Camper program, which loans camping gear for $20.

“So many people switched from a $150-per-night hotel room to a $25-per-night campground,” Ebach said. “Now those people who camped last year and had such a great time are now trying to recruit their friends.”

Most people go camping because a week-long trip can cost under $300 — compared with $3,000 and up, for example, for a week at Disney. Harold Herta, chief of resource management for the Parks and Recreation Division of the Michigan DNR, credits the rise in advance reservations to the relatively inexpensive cost of camping.

The state’s Recreation Passport program — which allows drivers to pay an annual $10 fee when they renew their license plates instead of paying a daily or yearly park fee — and related discounts from participating businesses have given camping a boost.

“Much of that increase (in park use) is attributed to the success of the Recreation Passport program, which lowered the annual park access cost from $24 to $10,” Herta said.

Smaller families, an increasing dependence on technology and changing attitudes toward what constitutes a vacation have hurt the $1.75 billion camping equipment market nationally, according to Fiona O’Donnell, senior lifestyles and leisure analyst for Chicago market-research firm Mintel Inc. Camping’s future has potential as long as new groups are brought in to offset the perceived inconveniences that accompany such a vacation.

“Camping has waned in popularity among would-be campers who may consider camping too much of a hassle for a typical family vacation. To bring growth back to the camping equipment market, a younger generation of parents must be inspired to take up the activity with their children,” O’Donnell said in an April report.

Longtime backpacker Holly Willson, her husband Alek and their two children will venture out this month for their first family camping trip, the Grosse Pointe Farms resident said. But instead of setting up a tent, the group of family and friends plan to stay in the slightly more upscale cottages on site.

“For us, it’s a vacation to get away from stress and to get away from technology. It’s about putting away the phones and laptops and really connect with one another,” Willson said.

Statewide, there are more than 950 licensed private RV parks and campgrounds with more than 111,000 licensed campsites, according to the DNR. And there are about 160 county or government-operated campgrounds with another 14,700 sites.

Paul Pastelok, AccuWeather senior meteorologist, says this summer should be ideal for camping and other outdoor activities.

Pastelok said the next three months will be slightly warmer than normal.

That should translate into a “very strong year” for the state’s tourism, which is predicted to rise a healthy 6 percent this year, according to a Michigan State University report.





18 Rustic Campgrounds Added to State’s Reservation System

May 18, 2012 by · Comments Off on 18 Rustic Campgrounds Added to State’s Reservation System 

Eighteen of Michigan’s more popular state forest campgrounds are being added to the state campground reservation system this season.

That’s a first for the remote and rustic campgrounds that have always operated on a first-come, first-served basis, the Grand Rapids Press reported.

“It made sense to allow those sites to be reserved,” said Tim Schreiner, manager of Traverse City State Park and the man appointed within the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to usher the state forest campground program into a new era.

“We know the online state park reservation system gets tons of hits as people go through it and determine where to go,” Schreiner said. “It’s going to provide added exposure for the state forest campground program.”

The agency operates 131 rustic campgrounds. Most are small and primitive, offering tent pads, picnic tables, fire rings, pump-water and pit toilets. They are popular with the get-further-away crowd who prefer a quiet night under the stars to crowded state park campgrounds.

The 18 campgrounds added to the reservation system are both popular and located near a state park, according to Schreiner. That proximity is crucial, he said, because state park staffers will be handling reserved-site management.

The DNR’s state forest campground program was shifted to the Michigan state parks division earlier this year. DNR Director Rodney Stokes moved it out of the agency’s forest management division where it was languishing. The change was to streamline the forest division so it could focus on trees and timber.

State Park chief Ron Olsen said he intends to reposition the rustic campgrounds and increase revenues from them by improving management and making them more prominent. Reservations can be made online at The cost is $8.

A state recreation passport also is required to camp at state forest campgrounds. That requirement was approved by Stokes in March.

Passports cost $10. They can be purchased when annual license plate renewals occur. Campers also can order them at state forest campgrounds. The payment envelope for camping fees has been redesigned with a tear-off segment as a temporary receipt, according to DNR staffers.

“If people already have a passport, they won’t need to worry about it,” said Brenda Curtis, the DNR state forest campground program manager.

“If they purchase one at the campground, it will be mailed to them. They can put that tear-off on their dashboard.”

Next Page »