How to Enjoy Hiking, Camping, and Traveling In a Wildfire Summer
Adventurer and Photographer
Summer is made for road trips, hiking, and traveling, but the more and more common wildfires that plague the American West can alter or even ruin travel plans (not to mention doing a lot of other damage at the same time). While smoke can seem like a sure-fire way to a bummer-summer, don’t worry – we promise you can still have a great summer!
My partner and I took a trip to Bozeman, Montana this summer during the peak of wildfire season and I wanted to share our tips for making the most out of a smokey trip!
Instead of Hiking for Vistas….
Instead of hiking for the views, which might be obscured by smoke and not quite what you were hoping for, we recommend that you enjoy forested hiking! There are so many amazing discoveries to be had when you take a closer look at the world around you.
To really get into this, we recommend working on your macro photography and taking lots of photos of wildflowers, wildlife, and anything else nearby that fuels your excitement! Realizing all the amazing things you can find on a hike (besides the view) can really help you see an area in a whole different way.
Eat Your Way Through a New Town
While the outdoors might be smokey and less than inviting, local restaurants and eateries are always happy to have you and show you a great time!
If you love tacos, make sure to visit every Mexican restaurant in town so you can compare. If beer is your thing, try to visit as many breweries or pubs as you can (responsibly, folks). Find the best armchair out of all of the coffee shops, or the bar with the best board games to keep you entertained. Love trying local foods? Look for a restaurant when you can find locally grown and raised foods – it supports local farmers and your tastebuds!
Camping Without a Campfire
We all know that a campfire is a great way to get people together and stay warm while camping. But with it being a hot, dry, high-fire danger summer in many places, sometimes having a campfire on your trip is a non-option. You can still have a great time camping without one – we promise!
You can bring along lanterns or even battery-powered twinkle lights to decorate your tent and campsite! We like to bring a lantern for cooking in the dark, but the more the merrier! You can get all snuggled up in the tent and play games there, or if there is a large group of you, you can get all cozy around a lantern (just bring your sleeping bag out of the tent so you can cocoon up while you hang out).
If you need an activity to keep you busy during a smokey summer night, try some light painting. Light painting can be such a fun activity with friends or by yourself if you need to move around and are feeling creative! You just need a camera with a slow shutter speed and a flashlight, headlamp, or even your phone.
Another pro tip: If it’s a chilly night, we recommend filling up a Nalgene bottle with boiling water, then slipping it to the bottom of your sleeping bag. Just make sure it isn’t too hot when you get in. Your toes will be warm all night long.