DETROIT (WWJ) – Summertime is almost here, and it’s never too early to start planning fun family outings.

Reservations for picnic shelters on Detroit’s Belle Isle will take place in-person on a first-come, first-served basis March 24-26 at the casino building.

This will be the first year Belle Isle is operating as a state park, which is now managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources under a 30-year lease agreement with the city.

Ron Olson, DNR Chief of Parks and Recreation, told WWJ’s Vickie Thomas that the in-person reservation system is outdated and will soon be phased out — making the entire process easier for visitors.

“Later this month, there are three days to come and reserve shelters — same fees, same basic process. But in the future, what we want to do is transition into a system we use at the rest of the state parks where you can call up or you can go online,” Olson said.

The new reservation system would allow visitors to make reservations online or by phone up to a year in advance. The new system won’t be ready until April 2015. So for now, Olson said they will continue the in-person reservations.

Reservations take place from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the following dates:

• March 24 – July shelter reservations taken
• March 25 – August shelter reservations taken
• March 26 – Any remaining July and August shelter reservations taken, along with reservations for portions of May, June, September and October.

For more information on shelter reservations, including the price structure, visit and click on “Shelter Reservations.”

The DNR is currently phasing in requirement of the Recreation Passport for vehicles entering Belle Isle. The Recreation Passport applies only to vehicles, not individuals.

The Passport — $11 for resident vehicles, $5 for resident motorcycles — can be easily purchased when renewing a license plate registration through the Secretary of State. It can also be purchased at the park.


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