Amid summer heat, nights offer outdoor event options

·3 min read

Jul. 14—With the outdoor oven cranked up to broil and apparently left there, night hikes and dark sky viewing become outdoor options, and there are several of these. Some are near Lake of the Ozarks and St. Louis, should you find yourself there for the weekend, and others are in Northwest Arkansas.

Check out these events in the coming weeks:

Island Cave night hike

—When: 8:30 to 9:45 p.m. Friday, July 22.

—Where: Ha Ha Tonka State Park, near Camdenton. Participants meet at the Spring Trailhead in the lake parking lot. To get to the lake parking lot from U.S. Highway 54, turn onto Route D and continue for 2.7 miles to Tonka Spring Road. The lake parking lot is located on the right.

—Details: Head to Island Cave, a wild cave, at sunset and emerge from after dark to hear the sounds of the night. To enter the cave, bring one light source, such as a flashlight or a headlamp; full-length pants; and closed-toe shoes. Sandals and other open-toe shoes are not permitted. Hard hats will be provided. Portions of Island Cave are narrow, and the hike to and exploration of the cave is strenuous.

Space for this program is limited, and registration is required. To register, call 573-346-2986.


—When: 9:30 to 10:30 p.m. Friday, July 29.

—Where: Ha Ha Tonka State Park, near Camdenton. The event is at the Post Office Shelter. To get there from Highway 54, turn onto Route D and continue 2.3 miles. The shelter will be on your left.

—Details: Weather permitting, an evening of stargazing with a telescope is planned. There will be a new moon, which allows the best opportunity to view more distant and faint objects, and possibly the Delta Aquarids meteor shower.

Night sky viewing

—When: 8:45 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13.

—Where: Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park, near Wildwood.

—Details: Explore the night sky with members of the St. Louis Astronomical Society, who will set up telescopes to see a variety of objects, including Jupiter and its moons, Saturn and its rings, and many star clusters, nebulae and galaxies. Bring chairs, blankets and binoculars.

Nighttime Photography

—When: There is a two-part session, one part in the classroom and the other outdoors. The classroom sessions is from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, July 17, and the night sky photography event will start at 9 p.m. Saturday, July 30.

—Where: The classroom session takes place in the discovery room of the Visitor Center at Hobbs State Park, east of Rogers, Arkansas; the photography event takes place at the Steel Creek Campground near Ponca, Arkansas, on the Buffalo River.

—Details: The events are sponsored by the Photographic Society of Northwest Arkansas, who will lead the photo session.

Astronomy Night

—When: 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, July 23.

—Where: Start in the Discovery Room at the Visitor Center for Hobbs State Park, east of Rogers, Arkansas. Then head outdoors.

—Details: Sugar Creek Astronomical Society President Bill Murphy will begin with a program followed by the outdoor viewing session, weather permitting, through high-quality telescopes provided and staffed by group members. Expect to view some constellations, a star cluster, a nebula and distant galaxies. Bring a flashlight covered with a red cloth or red balloon, binoculars and/or telescope, folding chair and a star chart if you have one. For information, call the park at 479-789-5000.