Baxter State Park to take camping reservations Jan. 17

Posted Jan. 06, 2012, at 2:37 p.m.

BAXTER STATE PARK, Maine — Campers seeking to book reservations at Baxter State Park in 2012 will have their first chance to do so on Jan. 17, the park’s director said Thursday.

On that date only, campers can make as many as two reservations for any time period during the camping season, May 15 to Oct. 15, on a first-come, first-served basis, Director Jensen Bissell said.

But reservations made on Jan. 17 will be limited to 20 percent of any campground on any day. On that day, park workers also will start collecting reservations for lean-tos, cabins and campsites through their rolling reservation system, which allows bookings starting 120 days before the first reserved day, Bissell said.

Bissell said he hopes the park will enjoy a season at least as good as the 2011 season.

“The numbers that bottomed out in 2005 have risen ever since then,” Bissell said Thursday. “We had as good a season in 2011 as we did the year before despite having to evacuate the park for two days last summer [due to hurricane warnings].”

The park had 63,854 visitors and 21,679 vehicles in 2011, compared with 63,621 visitors and 22,162 vehicles the year before. In 2005, the park had 56,067 visitors and 21,155 vehicles, according to statistics the park service compiles.

The greatest number of visitors the park has seen since counts started being kept came in 2002. That’s when 71,654 visitors and 26,604 vehicles came to the park, according to the statistics.

July and August were the park’s busiest months last year, with almost 15,000 visitors each.

The park made the news on Monday when a privately owned timber company, Huber Resources Corp. of Old Town, offered to donate to the park the larger of two small parcels of land at Katahdin Lake. The parcel, which has an estimated size of 90 to 160 acres, achieves the vision of former Gov. Percival Baxter when he first created the park decades ago.

The park headquarters off Route 11 in Millinocket will open at 7 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, and start taking reservations at 8 a.m. Anyone seeking information on how to book reservations can visit the park’s website, baxterstateparkauthority.com, or call the reservation office at 723-5140.

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