As much fun as it is to hang out at a campsite grilling, hiking on a beautiful trail or just spending time with the family playing catch outside our Jayco during the day, there is something magical about staying up late when camping. Hours after sunset, when quiet hours are in effect, we find plenty to enjoy in the great outdoors. If you think enjoyment outside ends when everyone is asleep at a campground, think again! We will share a few things we enjoy while spending outside well into the night while camping.
Have you given stargazing a chance? This is one of the main things we love to do when camping and take pictures of these heavenly bodies. Since viewing the stars is a big part of why we camp, we always bring binoculars and most of the time, we have a telescope with us too. Binoculars are a great and relatively cheap way to get started with this hobby. They will allow you to see more detail in the Moon, locate dimmer stars and sometimes you can even spot a comet! Downloading any of the many star apps on your phone is the next step in getting started with this hobby. You'll be able to quickly identify the constellations, galaxies and planets you see in no time!
When Alison and I stargaze, we don't just sit by the fire and look at the stars. We also enjoy shooting them. It's nice to relax by the campfire talking, but we have found it even more enjoyable when we have something exciting to talk about! Each season and month gives us something new to photograph, even if we are at the same campground. Every constellation looks different depending on the time of year. It's always refreshing to look up and see what celestial bodies are in the night sky, ready to be photographed.
If you have never tried astrophotography before but enjoy photography, you need to try it.
Things that Go Bump in the Night
This section will either frighten you or excite you, depending on how afraid of the dark you are. If you stay up late and turn off all of the lights around your Jayco, you will usually catch something amazing. The forest, desert and plains come alive at night.
I can't count how often I have seen raccoons, bats, javelinas, mice and birds fly, walk or scurry through our campsite at night. When it has been very dark at our campsites, we have noticed nocturnal nature coming out to say ‘hi’. It might feel a little creepy at first sitting outside in total darkness, but we've seen that our eyes adjust well after about 15 minutes in the dark. Then, we can observe the sparkling heavens above and the lively ground below.
A UV light adds extra excitement to the darkness and allows you to see all the bioluminescent creatures you have never noticed before, walking right by your feet. We like to use UV lights when camping in areas with scorpions. These tiny arachnids usually glow blue-green under the light and are fun to watch hunt in the dark. How many places have scorpions west of the Mississippi River might surprise you!
As fun as it is spending the day hanging out as a family hiking, fishing, canoeing, playing games and doing numerous other activities, there is something about having time to be adults without the kids around. When the kids have gone to bed, it's nice to sit around a nice cracking fire with your beverage of choice, enjoying other adults in quiet conversation. We like to spend all day together bonding as a family. But once the kids head off to bed, the late-night allows Alison and I to reconnect as a couple. Nothing beats reminiscing outside our travel trailer, under the stars, about all the trips we have taken and fun things we have experienced.
Another reason you should stay up late when camping is to enjoy the peace and quiet. Hanging out with other campers or loved ones is great, but enjoying the tranquility of a campsite at night is truly a pleasant experience. Most campgrounds have rules for quiet hours, and I like to use some of this time to recharge in relative silence simply taking in my surroundings. Sometimes I'll just sit in the quiet darkness and look up to enjoy the stars and listen to the sounds of the outdoors.
Quiet time is highly underrated.
Since most campers tend to travel in the summer when it is the hottest in most places, they are outside going on adventures in the heat the majority of the day. When the sun goes down, temperatures tend to drop and as it gets even later, a scorching day can turn into perfect weather conditions at night. We have found plenty of desert campgrounds to be blazing hot and nearly unbearable during the summer day but just right at night. Just like desert animals, this is when we get active outside. Our family has discovered that exploring sand dunes by flashlight or even going on a night hike is fun.
Sitting outside your RV can also be a wonderful experience, a nice late night with a breeze to keep you cool. You don't need a fire to enjoy a campsite.
These are just a couple of reasons why you should stay up late when camping that we highly recommend you try. It adds to your RVing experience when you embrace every moment!