PORTLAND (AP) – Campsite reservations at Maine state parks have hit an all-time high for this time of year as Mainers look ahead toward summer.

In the first two months of taking reservations at Maine’s 12 state parks with campsites, the Bureau of Parks and Lands processed 4,511 reservations for a total of 21,084 nights. The number of reservations is up 9 percent over last year.

Tourism officials say one possible explanation for the rise is that more people in the region plan to travel shorter distances on vacation this summer to save fuel and money.

“I think possibly with the increase in the cost of gas, people are looking to take their vacations closer to home, as well we think they should – this is Vacationland, after all,” said Bureau of Parks and Lands Director Will Harris.

At Baxter State Park, reservation revenues are up 12 percent compared to the same time a year ago, said park Director Jensen Bissell. The park’s campsites hold 1,100 people when full, he said.

Campground reservations are also up from Canadians, especially at coastal campgrounds, said Richard Abare, executive director of the Maine Campground Owners Association. He suggested that the increased interest reflects the strength of the Canadian dollar, which has more buying power than in past years.

Several of Maine’s state parks are due for upgrades funded through a $7.5 million bond passed by voters last fall.

Sebago Lake and Lake St. George state parks will get new playgrounds, possibly by the July 4 weekend. Construction of new restroom and shower facilities at Rangeley Lakes, Lake St. George and Peaks-Kenny state parks will likely begin after camping season.

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