Now that summer is here, we are trying to get the kids out hiking. A lot. Usually this involves lots of whining and complaints about being tired. A few months ago, however, we stumbled upon the perfect combination: beautiful scenery + in the evening.
The first time we hiked in the evening it was by chance. We had a busy day as Sam worked a good 8-9 hours and the kids and I worked on a Jr. Ranger Book. Since we were in Zion National Park, I knew Sam would want to get out and go explore after he was done working, so we made an early dinner and set out on the shuttle for the Zion Narrows located at the end of the park. What we found surprised us: there were VERY few people there. Like maybe 5. On the whole trail. After a busy day fighting crowds of people we were kind of in shock. The weather was cooler, the light was pretty, and the kids had quite a bit of energy to burn.
Putting our discovery to the test, we decided to try our formula again at Bryce Canyon National Park a few weeks later. We drove to the Bristlecone Pine Loop and had ourselves a nice, relaxing, evening hike. Everyone enjoyed it! The kids were in a good mood, I was in heaven with the beautiful light and my adorable subjects, and we ended the night on a complete high.
A week later we were in Cedar Breaks National Park and all kind of cranky. It had been a rough driving day with lots of frustrations, but after we set up and had a quick dinner we set out on a short walk to the visitor center. Totally cured our crankiness. By the time we got back to the Airstream to get ready for bed, everyone was in a much better mood and excited about exploring the next morning.
Now I’m not saying that EVERY time we head out in the evenings its perfect bliss, but we have a pretty good track record so far. Even most recently when the kids were complaining that they were too tired, swimming had worn them out, and even I was doubtful – Sam dragged us all out on the trail and it turned completely magical.
As a total bonus, when we get back the kids are usually pretty tired and head to bed with little to no complaining. Total win all around! The ideal time of day likely depends heavily on the seasons, and will migrate earlier in the day as temperature drops. But for now, evening hikes will be a frequent habit.