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CARLTON - The Minnesota government shutdown made enjoying the outdoors a struggle last summer, closing parks off to the public during prime times.
"Our park system lost about a million dollars a weekin revenue for three weeks straight. The week of July 4th is our busy time ofthe year for Minnesota State Parks," said Gary Hoeft with Jay Cooke State Park.
State parks, like Jay Cooke in Carlton, offer activities such as camping, hiking and biking, and some of the most beautiful views around, views that park goers are glad to have back.
"State parks are a lot of those areas that you areable to do that so it's nice to have that back so we can go explore again," said park visitor Luke Opsahl.
The early warm weather has brought out the masses, including those new to state parks.
"This year, since we're new and we're pretty excited about it we pretty much booked every weekend," said Doug Stahl.
The weather is also attracting those who've been mainstays at the park.
"My dad's from up here specifically so I grew upcoming to Jay Cooke and Gooseberry and all those state parks so it's just kindof fun to come up here and I'm starting a family so it's kind of fun to carry on that tradition," said camper Opsahl.
Last year, Jay Cooke State Park had roughly 300,000 visitors, 21,000 of those being campers, a number that's sure to go up with campers finally having a full season of exploring to look forward to.
"It gets you out, it gets you into nature it gives you time to relax. For those of us from the cities, it gets you out of the hustle and bustle," said Opsahl. "It's the best. You've got the sounds of the waterfall behind us and a nice, gentle breeze, a beautiful temperature and it's just a way to really unwind and read a book or just kind of take a nap."
The only cost for Minnesota state parks is if you drive a vehicle into the park.
There are two different parking permit fees, one is $5 and is good on the day of purchase.
The other is a $25 annual permit which lasts 12 months.