Its October and its the last time most of us will be out camping and hiking here in the Midwest. I was just going on a late October camping trip, a few years ago, to do some fall leafing and hiking when I stumbled upon something fun to do at the end of October a few years back.
A group of us pulled up to Indian Cave State park on a Thursday and we were registering our cars and getting firewood. I was not driving so I was looking at the different things to do posted on their bulletin board and saw they had all sorts of things to do. Crafts for the kids, living history (blacksmiths, broom makers, soap makers and candle makers) on Saturday and Sunday. Movies and a hay rack ride on Friday and Saturday night. I asked about the tickets and they were $5 per adult and I spent the next 10 minutes talking everyone into going the next night. We all had a lot of fun and none of us realized that some state parks all over have Halloween activities.
Since I have my own family now, we have made a tradition of finding a new park to try to make the best of our last camping weekend of the year. Finding State Parks that celebrate Halloween with haunted hay rack rides, early trick or treating in the RV areas, crafts, living history displays, smores making, pumpkin carving contests and other fun things has been much easier now that I know these things are available to us. Each park has been different and they all have something for everyone, including the little ones so the whole family gets involved.
One of our family's favorite things to do after dinner or before they go to bed is going on a spooky "midnight hike." We usually have a few kids under 10 in the group and I call it that to make it sound more fun. Really we go out right after the sun has set because trails are creepy when they are dark and anything with the word midnight before it makes it spookier for the kids. I have put together a day hiking back pack emergency and survival kit that I grab to come with us every time we go. I usually pack the Day Hiker First Aid Kit which comes with supplies to treat cuts and scrapes, sprains, blisters, insect bites, headaches, muscle aches, and allergic reactions. Then I also bring extra band-aids because you can never have enough, snacks for every one, in case its a long hike or we find a cool spot to look out over water or down cliffs, glow sticks, extra water and extra batteries for the flash lights. Just make sure if you do have little ones that safety comes first. Make sure they have reflective material on their clothes or are wearing glow sticks so you can safely find them if you are doing any evening or night time walking. I make sure everyone in the group has a flash light or head lamp so no one trips and falls over any tree branches or steps into any holes.
There is so many things to do out there that my husband and I have yet to run out of new parks to try out each year even within an hour of our house, and there are so many state parks out there Most of these events are posted on the parks websites and are easy to find. I found mine at the Nebraska game and parks commission website outdoornebraska.gov under their calendar. Missouri state parks had Halloween events listed right under their Things To Do on their front page. In some states you have to call the parks directly or be able to get a hold of the states Department of Natural Resources magazines.
My family's favorite is the Haunted hay rack ride at Indian Cave State park near Falls City, Ne. It runs on Fridays and Saturdays the two weeks before Halloween week. My brother's Family gets a kick out of going to Buffalo Bills Ranch State historical park in North Platte, Ne every year. This one runs for only one day on Saturday, October 25th. My Friend Shanna and her family really enjoy the pumpkin carving contest at the Calamus Reservoir in Nebraska which is on the 18th of October.
Be safe as you and your families try out new things this year and have a great time outdoors!