Nothing holds the promise of adventure quite like a warm summer’s night. On your next family camping trip, before settling down around the campfire to share scary stories and roasted marshmallows, try one of these fun and unique after-dark activities.
1. Go for a Night Paddle
Wait for a calm, clear evening to enjoy the memorable magic of a quiet night paddle. Gliding through the seamless union of water and sky and piercing the hearts of constellations twinkling on the still surface transforms your Evergreen Starburst into the starship Enterprise and its occupants into intergalactic explorers. Head to Quebec’s La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve—just two hours from Ottawa and three from Montreal—for comfortable campsites, 2,000 kilometres of canoe routes on over 4,000 lakes and inky night skies blissfully free of light pollution. Nine recommended two-to three-day circuits make it easy to plan a weekend away. www.canot-camping.ca.
2. Swim in a Bioluminescent Sea
Imagine plunging into an ocean where every break of a wave or flutter kick of a swimmer’s feet sets the ocean ablaze. The otherworldly glow isn’t harmful; it’s merely the biological response of billions of microscopic plankton agitated by the disturbance. Bioluminescent dinoflagellates occur in all the world’s oceans, but you’ll only see them when sea temperature and nutrient availability combine to spawn high concentrations of the tiny creatures. Take a late spring trip to Vancouver Island when cold, well-oxygenated water promises good plankton blooms and bring your diving mask for an unforgettable aquatic experience.
3. Howl with Wolves
On Thursday evenings in August, park interpreters at Algonquin Provincial Park lead public wolf howls from the park’s Highway 60 corridor. The spine-tingling canine chorus frequently attracts up to 2,000 park visitors at a time. Success is by no means guaranteed, but wolves have been heard on 88 per cent of the outings held over the past two decades. Check the park website or bulletin boards to confirm that the wolf pack has been located and the howl is a go, then join the hundreds of other vehicles lining the highway and listen quietly while park naturalists deliver imitation wolf howls and wait for a response from the dark woods. www.algonquinpark.on.ca/programs/interp.html
Discover four more unforgettable adventures in the Canoeroots and Family Camping’s Late Summer 2010 issue. For more expert tips, download our free iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch App or Android App or read it here.