6 Ways to Spend an Evening in the Parks

By: Mary Christine Kane

July 22, 2019

Category: Recreation

Skip the sunburn, beat the crowds and enjoy a magical part of the day by visiting Three Rivers Parks in the evening or at night — most parks are open daily until 10 PM. Here are six free or low-cost ways to enjoy the beauty of the parks after prime daytime hours:

1. Paddle under the light of a full moon.

Join a Three Rivers guided moonlit paddle for a fun and low-cost adventure, or if you have your own paddlecraft, explore on your own. Less lake traffic at night makes for fewer waves and a more peaceful trip. It also offers the opportunity to hear and see wildlife when it tends to be most active.

Recreation Specialist Heather Gordon has been leading full moon paddles for several years and says, “We often see birds ‘fishing’ and fish jumping and sometimes we see land critters on the water’s edge. We also tend to hear more frogs, toads and singing birds than during the day.” Heather loves that the moonlight trips offer the opportunity to catch a fabulous sunset and moonrise.

Check out this blog post for the best places to paddle in Three Rivers.

2. See the stars.

When was the last time you looked up and saw the Milky Way? Sagittarius? For less light pollution and a great view, visit a restored prairie in a park reserve a little further out from the city, such as Crow-Hassan, Murphy-Hanrehan or Carver. Bring a blanket, bug spray and star map.

3. Go on a sunset-viewing date.

dock on a lake at sunset

What’s more romantic than watching the sun set together? And it’s cheaper and more unique than dinner and a movie. Bring some wine (ages 21+), cheese and a checkered tablecloth and you might even forget you’re in Minnesota and think you are in a movie. 

4. Try a family photo adventure.

Everything looks a little different through the lens of a camera. For a creative way to get a new view of the parks, what about capturing landscapes on a photo adventure? You’ll miss the harsh glare of the sun and capture changing and interesting light. Plus, as wildlife tends to be more active in the evening, you may even be able to capture some critter cameos.

Check out this blog post for photography tips on light.

5. Hike at twilight or under a full moon. 

moon rising over a tree silhouette

If you want a chance to hear owls hoot or see deer or other animals snacking, evening is the best time to adventure through the woods. Three Rivers regularly offers low-cost guided hikes, or you can hike on your own. You might be amazed at how quickly your eyes adjust to the darkness and how much you can see, particularly when the moon is full. As always, be safe with secure footwear, a map, flashlight and water.

6. Catch some sunnies.

It’s well known that fish start looking for dinner at dusk. Fishing is available at 17 parks, with accessible fishing piers at 10 parks. Enjoy a picnic dinner and then head out on the water or set up at a fishing pier. Boat rentals are available until 8 PM at certain parks through Labor Day. Be sure to get your fishing license ahead of time.

Remember, when the sun is starting to fade over the horizon, it could be the beginning of a great, new adventure. Start planning your trip today!

About the Author

a woman with shoulder length blonde hair wearing a plaid scarf and gray sweater

Mary is a volunteer blog contributor who has been participating in Three Rivers Park District activities for many years, as both a volunteer and participant. She enjoys camping, hiking, skiing, biking, kayaking and canoeing. Mary is also a poet; her chapbook, Between the stars where you are lost, is available from Finishing Line Press. You can find her online at MaryChristineKane.com.


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