View Full Version : Opening Day for 2018 Summer Reservations is Jan 14th!

TJ aka Teej
12-19-2017, 02:29
The annual overnight camp out for prime spots is less than three weeks away!
We'll probably line up about 10PM on the 13th to secure some backcountry spots.
Online, call-in, and walk-in reservations start the 15th, four months before the first day of the overnight camping season.
Southbounders shouldn't call for May reservations until Jan 27th or later. Trails up Katahdin seldom open before the end of May.

01-15-2018, 10:17
The weather was nice on Sunday so I drove over from Gorham NH to the BSP headquarters in Millinocket to pick up some reservations. I started going to opening day soon after the new reservation system went in which limited opening day reservations to 20% of the campground capacity. This has really cut down on the opening day crowds ever since. Over the last few years its been real obvious that the only ones camping out are there for the "fun" of it to be first in line. I seem to get there later every year and have not had any issues getting my first choice. I got there at 11AM and all the tents were gone out of the usual tenting area outside the door. It was below freezing on the drive over and with a clear night I expect it was decidedly nippy for those who camped or waited in line at the door. There had been a thaw and rain on Friday which burned off a lot of snow on the south face of Katahdin, all the ravines were well defined from a distance with snow while the ridges were bare. It definitely looked more like spring.

This was the first year that the park director wasnt there (at least when I got there). This is the second year of a weekend opening day which makes it handy for those who work to get up there. The tradeoff is that during prior years on weekdays, there seemed to be more long term staff on hand. There was one of the senior rangers holding down the door, the recently hired interpretative specialist and another recent hire ranger in the hall and the normal office staff. I got the number 77 when I went in the door and they were in the high fifties for the actual reservations. I think they were the tail end of the folks who waited in line. Unlike prior years the friends of BSP didnt have a formal presence. They did have the new park 3d relief map on display. Its quite an impressive work with lots of details. The new close up version of Katahdin itself was out front across from the desk. It has less vertical exaggeration than the old versions and far better detail. In general things seemed to be bit more subdued on the staffs part. There does seem to an informal script regarding future opening days. Three different staff members commented when asked that the opening day is not required its just a tradition that could go away at some point. One staffer thought this year was the last but retrenched after I asked a few questions.

My wait was until about 10 minutes to 1PM for my number to get called. I had checked my preferred reservations a couple of numbers before so I was pretty sure I was set. I got my first choice. While I was hanging out in the hall I didn't hear of many folks who didn't get their first choice. I expect that unless someone wants a very specific spot in very popular campground on specific date its highly likely they got their first choice. After yesterday the reservations go on hold until the rolling reservations dates roll up.

I hit the road soon after 1:30 PM and got back to Gorham just after dark. Its a nice way to spend a cold day In January thinking about summer.

TJ aka Teej
01-16-2018, 00:26
This was the first year that the park director wasnt there (at least when I got there).

Jensen has retired. A nationwide search is underway for a new Director.
It just might be (shudder) someone from away.

01-16-2018, 12:07
I have gotten that impression. It was surprising that they could recruit Jensen internally as the typical background of a ranger for the park does not line up well to become the administrator of a large multi million dollar organization. It was obvious that being the director of BSP was Jensen's retirement job. Bringing in someone "from away" could lead to someone just there to add it to his resume and move on to a more lucrative job in a few years. That could really change the park quickly.

On the other hand I have had discussions with a couple of part time rangers over the years that they had been doing it for several years but speculated they couldn't get hired full time as they didn't have a degree. I also have heard more than a few woman observe that the permanent staff of rangers are a "boys club", I think before Jean Hoekwater got on permanent staff, a long term seasonal caretaker of Chimney Pond was a very capable woman who was quite well qualified to be permanent ranger. I cant remember her name but in the winters she had a job in Antarctica working support services, she eventually transferred over into the state park system and I think went permanent.