Extraordinary, yet socially distant “wild” nightlife awaits visitors to Ohio’s Hocking Hills
Extraordinary, yet socially distant “wild” nightlife awaits visitors to Ohio’s Hocking HillsLOGAN, Ohio – Most travelers picture nightlife as standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a noisy, cramped and overpriced club. But in Ohio’s Hocking Hills region, nightlife takes on a completely different, but no less exciting, vibe. And without 21-and-over restrictions, this wild brand of nightlife makes it ideal for visitors of all ages. While the region does have a great craft distillery, brewery, wineries and local watering holes -- many with live music and outdoor seating -- it’s the fireflies and constellations that really light up the night in this remarkable destination. Details and traveler information are available at ExploreHockingHills.com.
Visitors are stunned to learn that a closeup interaction with moths actually creates exciting nightlife. Butterfly Ridge Conservation Center illuminates during its Saturday Night Lights events. Led by the husband-wife naturalist team Chris and Kris Cline, guests start with a lantern hike deep into woodlands lush with indigenous pollinator-attracting plants. Upon arriving at a clearing, a large, white vertical sheet is illuminated with blue tungsten light as a new world is uncovered. Hundreds of gorgeous, multicolored and patterned moths, from a centimeter long, to eight inches across, alight while the Clines entertain and educate with nocturnal tales. Travelers are continually stunned, vowing to never again look at the lowly moth in the same light.
In an adventure that’s a whole new way to view wildlife up close, visitors become at one with nature as they silently slip their kayaks into scenic Lake Hope just as the sun is beginning to set. This rare night kayaking expedition takes them in search of the elusive North American Beaver. Led by seasoned paddle guide Mimi Morrison of Touch of Earth Adventures, nature enthusiasts begin the trek at dusk, paddling slowly and quietly to massive beaver lodges, which can often be found by sniffing for their telltale musky smell. Morrison teaches her guests to identify signs of shoreline activity and locate the continent’s largest rodent (which can grow to more than 80 pounds) hiding under water, before they return to the dock in full darkness.
Imagine the excitement of a moonlit hike through the woods to a soaring rockface, followed by rappelling over sky-high rock formations in the full-on dark of night. Guests can try night rappelling at High Rock Adventures. Guided by two expert instructors, participants rappel from three massive rock formations, ranging from 35 feet to more than 95 feet in height. Friends and family are welcome to join the hike in order to watch and photograph their more adventurous rappelling companions.
Travelers in search of more thrills after dark can fly through the treetops at Hocking Hills Canopy Tours. Here, multiple night ziplining options let dark-loving daredevils soar at high speeds through the lush forest after sunset. The experience offers a truly one-of-a-kind way to experience the sights, sounds and spells of the forest and area wildlife, as talented canopy guides share natural history, folklore and tree and wildlife biology.
Visitors looking to unwind at sunset can start off happy hour with breathtaking views of Hocking Hills lush woodlands while decompressing in the new personal Sauna Pods. Surrounded by cedar wood, these barrel-shaped saunas let guests enjoy the therapeutic sauna heat in total relaxation, while also being completely immersed in the region’s natural beauty through the fish-eye window. Comfortably seating up to four, these hot pods are equipped with Bluetooth speakers and adjustable mood lighting, letting guests start the evening off right. Following their warming treatment, guests can watch the sunset and bring their own snacks and beverages to enjoy, accompanied by the musical sounds of the woods at night.
Stargazing is nothing short of magical at the John Glenn Astronomy Park, which offers the perfect end to any evening. Thanks to Hocking Hills’ dark skies, unfettered by light pollution, guests can marvel at the starry night and observe all of the visible planets and celestial constellations. The experience is especially memorable during big sky events, including:
- May 5: Super moon
- May 26: Lunar eclipse
- June 10 “Ring of Fire” solar eclipse
- Aug. 11-12 Perseids meteor shower
- Mid-September to end of 2021: Venus show
- Nov. 19: Near-total eclipse of the moon
- Dec. 13-14: The Geminids meteor shower
While much of Ohio is vaccinated, indoor mask mandates and social distancing currently remain in place and rerouted trails, remote cabins and other unique lodging offer a safe, restful and welcome change of scenery in the wake of COVID-19. Reservations, availability search and traveler tips are available at ExploreHockingHills.com website or by calling 1-800-Hocking (800-462-5464).