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19 things to do while camping at night

There are tons of great daytime activities you can enjoy on your camping trips, but you can still have a lot of fun after the sun goes down. To offer you a bit of inspiration for planning your next trip, here are 19 things to do while camping at night.

1. Reflect on the day while sitting around the campfire

Friends sitting around a campfire at night.

One of the best things about camping is that it gives you a lot of time to reflect on what you experienced throughout the day. Consider how far you traveled, new sights you saw, challenges you overcame, and experiences you really enjoyed.

If you’re camping with friends or family, this is a great opportunity to chat and bond about all the things you shared together during the day. Make sure to ask questions, share stories, and just enjoy each other’s company.

2. Roast up some s’mores

Roasting a marshmallow over the campfire for s'mores.

There’s nothing quite like roasting marshmallows over a campfire and then sandwiching them between two pieces of chocolate and graham crackers. If you’ve never had a s’more, you’re in for a real treat!

You can also get creative by making your own unique take on the classic s’more. Try adding peanut butter or chocolate hazelnut spread, using chocolate chip cookies instead of graham crackers, or even opting for jumbo-sized marshmallows instead of standard sized marshmallows.

3. Tell spooky stories

A boy using a flashlight to tell spooky stories while camping at night.

If you’re feeling brave, share a scary story or two around the campfire. Just make sure they’re appropriate for everyone who is listening. If you don’t have any personal stories to share, there are plenty of great ones out there that you can read aloud.

You could even play a storytelling game where you make something up, and then everyone takes turns adding on to the story. This is a great way to get everyone’s creative juices flowing.

4. Go for a night hike

Hiking along a trail at night with a headlamp or flashlight.

If you’re up for a bit of adventure, go exploring in the dark! Just make sure to take a headlamp or flashlight with you, and maybe even a buddy too.

This is a great way to see things you might not see during the day, and you might even come across some interesting wildlife. Just be careful not to stray from the main path or trail, and always make sure you know where you’re going.

5. Sing around the campfire

Playing the guitar while sitting around the campfire at night.

There’s nothing like belting out a few campfire classics to get everyone in a good mood. Whether you know all the words or not, just joining in and singing along is sure to get everyone smiling.

It’s especially fun if you or someone else knows how to play the guitar or ukulele. Try singing a few well known campfire songs like, “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “Home on the Range,” or “99 Bottles of Beer.”

6. Look for the moon

The full moon rising above the trees at night.

One of the best things to do while camping at night is appreciate the beauty of nature, but in the dark! Take some time to sit back and enjoy the night sky—especially if it’s clear out.

If you’re lucky enough to be camping during a full moon, make sure to step outside and take a look. You might even be able to see the moon rising over the horizon, which is truly a sight to behold.

7. Stargaze

The stars on a clear night while camping.

Another great thing to do on a clear night is look at the stars. You might be able to spot certain planets, meteorites, constellations, and the Milky Way if you look close. This is especially true if you’re in an area with little light pollution.

If you want to get a closer look at the stars, consider bringing along a telescope or binoculars. See if you can name all the different things you can see up in the sky.

8. Listen for wildlife

An owl perched in a tree at night.

Many animals become more active after dark, so making it a great time to quietly listen for signs of them. Try to be as quiet as possible and see if you can hear any frogs, coyotes, wolves, owls, or other animals nearby.

This can be especially fun if you’re camping in an area where there’s lots of wildlife. If you’re in wolf territory, consider howling into the night to see if they answer you back!

9. Look for fireflies

A firefly flying off a person's hand.

Fireflies are most commonly seen in the early evening or late night, so if you’re out and about during those times, keep your eyes peeled! They’re typically found in wooded areas near streams or ponds.

They’re a beautiful sight, and it’s really neat to watch them flashing their lights. You can even try to catch them by cupping your hands around them and waiting for them to flash a brief burst of light through your hands.

10. Go for a nighttime swim

Two kids swimming in a lake at sunset.

Who said swimming was a daytime activity? A nighttime swim can be a cool and refreshing way to end the day before hitting the hay.

Just make sure the water is clean and that there’s someone else around in case of an emergency. It’s also important to be aware of any potential hazards, like rocks or rapids, before going in for a dip.

11. Read a book

A book opened in front of a lake at sunset.

If you’re looking for a calm and relaxing activity to do before bed, consider reading a book by flashlight or headlamp. You can sit by the campfire, by the lake, or in a hammock while you let your mind indulge in a good story.

Reading is also great option when the nighttime weather is a little cooler or wetter than you’d like, because you can do it in your tent. Curling up in your sleeping bag with a good book is also an excellent way to wind down and prepare for sleep.

12. Play a card game

Friends playing at card game at a picnic table while camping.

Card games are great because they’re easy to set up and don’t require a lot of equipment. All you need is a deck of cards and potentially something to keep score with.

There are lots of different card games you can play, so everyone is sure to find one they enjoy. Some popular choices are poker, blackjack, UNO, and Go Fish.

13. Play ring toss with glow sticks

A person holding glow sticks at night.

Glow sticks are a fun and easy way to add some excitement to nighttime activities. For a game of ring toss, use standard glow sticks that are 6 to 12 inches in length as your targets. Just find a sandy or grassy area to stick them vertically in the ground.

Then use glow stick necklaces to toss around the targets like rings. You can keep score by awarding points for every ring that lands around a target, or you can just play for fun.

14. Play hide-and-go-seek

A person hiding behind a tree at night.

This classic game is a great way to get everyone up and moving. One person is “it” and counts to a certain number while the other players hide. Once the seeker is done counting, they try to find all the hidden players.

If you’re playing in an area with lots of trees, rocks, and bushes, it might be extra tricky to find everyone. And if it’s really dark, the seekers might even have to use a flashlight to help them look.

15. Watch a movie on your smartphone or tablet

A family watching a video on a tablet in their tent at night.

If you want to relax and do something low-key, consider watching a movie on your smartphone or tablet. You can use a portable charger to make sure your devices don’t die in the middle of the film.

Streaming apps like Netflix and YouTube have features that allow you to download videos to your account so you can enjoy them without an internet connection. It might not be the most unique thing to do while camping at night, but it’s certainly a fine option if you’re missing some of those modern luxuries we tend to take for granted when we venture outdoors!

16. Meditate

Meditating under the stars.

The night air and landscape can offer a sense of peace and tranquility that’s perfect for meditation. If you had a really busy day, it’s a great way to clear your head and calm your thoughts before bed.

If you’re not used to meditating, it might take a little bit for your mind to quiet down. Don’t worry if you can’t clear your mind completely the first time—just try to focus on your breath and let all other thoughts float away.

17. Gather and process more firewood

Processed firewood and an axe.

You probably want to be spending your daytime hours enjoying the activities you have planned in your itinerary, so gathering and chopping all your firewood at night is a great way to get that chore out of the way. Just make sure you do it with a really good headlamp and all the necessary tools, like a hatchet and gloves.

There’s no such thing as having too much firewood, and your future self will probably thank you for thinking ahead and gathering more than you need. Even if you don’t use all of it, you’ll be doing a really nice favour to the next campers who come along.

18. Get organized for the next day

A man entering an RV after dark.

One of the most overlooked things to do while camping at night is preparing for the next day. Ask yourself, what can you do tonight that will make your life easier in the morning?

Do you need to refill the water bottles? Do you need to do the dishes? Do you need to locate the breakfast ingredients? Do you need to tidy a certain area? Answering these questions ahead of time will help you be more efficient and less stressed the following day.

19. Go to bed early

A person lying down in their camping tent while gazing out at the mountains.

Last but not least, one of the best things to do while camping at night is to go to bed early. You might not be used to going to sleep before 10 o’clock, but getting a good night’s rest is crucial when you’re spending your days outdoors.

Not only will you feel more rested and have more energy for activities, but you’ll also be able to enjoy the early morning hours when the world is just waking up. There’s something truly magical about being one of the first people to greet the day.

What are your favourite things to do while camping at night?

We’ve shared some of our favourite things to do while camping at night, but we want to know if you have anything else to add to the list! Let us know in the comments below.