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Rivah Visitor's Guide

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Fun in the dark at area parks

The sun sets on Belle Isle and a canoe tour.

Evening is a magical time at Belle Isle State Park in Lancaster County, Westmoreland State Park in Westmoreland County and Beaverdam Park in Gloucester County.

Nature comes to life in many different ways under stars twinkling in endless skies and in the depths of rivers and marshes.

Sometimes unusual sounds can be heard like the call of a night owl or the honking of geese as they fly across the evening sky. Howling coyotes—oh, wait—it’s just some campers sitting around a bonfire trying to imitate coyotes.

Visitors will discover free evening concerts, moonlight hikes, romantic canoe tours and other activities to awaken senses to nature. Prices are listed, where they apply. Nominal parking fees apply. Be sure to check-in with park rangers for additional activities popping up this summer.

Acres of the area’s natural parks offer many nocturnal adventures or the option to just enjoy the quiet solitude of nature.

See what fish are up to under the “see” light.

Evenings at Belle Isle State Park
1632 Belle Isle Road, Lancaster, 462-5030

Belle Isle offers visitors a variety of after-dark adventures to connect with wildlife. Motor in or arrive by kayak, there are facilities to meet your needs and night thrills that are sure to appeal to your “wild” side when you explore the diverse nightlife of the woodlands and rivers.

Two special canoe tours are offered for a nominal fee of $6 per person. Children should be at least age 8. Bug spray is recommended. Pre-registration is required at the park office, camp store, or 462-5030.

A moonlight canoe tour will be offered at 7:30 p.m., July 11 and August 15.
There is no better way to enjoy the moon and a star-studded sky than from a canoe on the serene Mulberry Creek. Perfect for viewing wildlife in its natural habitat or feathering a nest with a little romance.

A sunset canoe tour will be offered at 7 p.m. July 2, August 17 and 26.As the sun sets on the park, paddle along Mulberry Creek in the soft glow of a pink and orange sky. Evening is a magical time on the water. View the nightlife of owls, bats and other natural residents under the guidance of a park ranger.

The Deep “See” will be offered at 9 p.m. July 7 and 28, as well as August 4, 8 and 18.
Belle Isle offers an evening program that illuminates the waters below and sheds light on aquatic nightlife. Watch as insects are drawn out from the darkness, followed by minnows, then bigger fish. Bring your flashlight, bug spray and a light jacket for the cooler nights.

Prowl for owls will be offered at 8:30 p.m. July 22.
Learn all about the owls of Belle Isle, their habitat and how they benefit the environment. A ranger will explain the park’s different species of owls and perhaps “call” a couple of the owls for a closer view. Be sure to wear closed toed shoes and dress for the weather. Pre-registration is recommended at the park office, camp store, or 462-5030.

Campfire treatsNational S’mores Day will be observed at 7 p.m. August 10.

Celebrate the origin of the “s’more” (thanks, Girl Scouts) with a happy hour around the Belle Isle State Park campfire. Sample an assortment of s’more fixings, including the classic chocolate and marshmallow melted between graham crackers or go decadent using cookies instead of crackers.

Top it off with songs and stories around a sticky campfire at the park’s amphitheater. Bring wipes.

Friday nights by firelight programs will be offered at 8 p.m. Fridays through August.

Storytelling, impromptu music and silly campfire songs will create childhood memories to last a lifetime at this family-oriented event at the amphitheater. Kids and adults will enjoy trying to mimic night owls and coyote howls at this weekly campfire event that features roasting marshmallows and fixing s’mores. It’s a great time to hear about park events taking place during your stay.

Music by the RiverThe Music by the River concert series, sponsored by the Friends of Belle Isle, has become a park tradition that brings out residents as well as campers to enjoy the best bands the region has to offer. Grab a blanket or lawn chair and a picnic basket. Wear dancing shoes or go barefoot! Set the youngsters loose to enjoy supervised games and playground activities.

Concerts are generally held from 6 to 8 p.m. second and third Saturdays May through August in the picnic area.

Upcoming concerts will include:

  • July 1, The Legacy Band, classic rock, including original tunes and favorite rock songs.
  • July 15, Out on a Limb, folk, rock and country, laid-back classic rhythms and vocals by an acoustic trio.
  • August 12, Whitetop Mountain Band, a family-based bluegrass band steeped in the tradition and music of the Appalachian Mountains.
  • August 19, Southern Grace, country gospel harmonies delivered with an upbeat tempo.

Take a moonlight walk on the beach at Westmoreland.

Moonlit fun at Westmoreland State Park
45 Cliff Road, Montross, 493-8821

Night life at Westmoreland State Park begins with Music on the Cliffs, featuring wine tasting by Generals Ridge (wine sold by the glass).

Look for activities that will be scheduled in the weeks to come, like night kayak trips, Saturdays under a full moon, twilight hikes and Friday night campfires to welcome guests—beginning at 7 p.m.

Music on the Cliffs is offered from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on third Saturdays.

Picnic under the stars while the playground occupies the kids and music fills the air. Don’t forget lawn chairs.

Upcoming concerts will include:

  • July 15, Haze and Dacey, folk to pop, country to rock.
  • August 19, Resolutions Road, Southern gospel to blues rock.

posted 06.29.2017

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