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Recreation / Outdoors

Nature Scavenger Hunt Ideas – Get Outside!

Sometimes it feels as though our entire society has become an urban sprawl. Buildings blanket the landscape; sometimes the only trees to be found are those that we have planted ourselves. Cities grow larger by the year and we find ourselves ever more industrialized. But nature is not gone altogether! Not by far! And if you want to rediscover the beauty of the natural world, what better way is there to do it than with a nature scavenger hunt?


No one could be expected to go from urbanite to nature expert overnight. That would be ridiculous. Likewise, jumping straight into nature loving via a lengthy camping trip might be too much. Baby steps are the way to go, especially for those of you who have children. And a nature themed scavenger hunt is just the way to start these steps. It’s stress free, it can help you learn to identify important natural objects, and (most importantly) it’s just plain fun.


Picking the Location for your Nature Scavenger Hunt

Finding a good location is a big part of the success of one of these hunts. It can’t be somewhere too deep in the wilderness, especially if you’re inexperienced with navigating the great outdoors. Going somewhere in the backwoods that doesn’t get many visitors is asking for trouble. Wait until you know what you’re doing before you go that deep.



For your first excursion into nature, consider one of the following:

  • A national or state park (you can find nearby park locations and information about them online).
  • A well-known camping or picnicking spot (you can likely find reviews for these online as well).
  • A nearby commercial campsite (you may end up spending money to use the grounds, but it might end up being worth it).


There is no one right answer here, so just do whatever is best for you. Going online and reading what other people have to say might help you make the decision. Or perhaps you could consider scouting out the locations ahead of time. Again, do what works for you personally.


Deciding the Specifics: How Long to Stay, Who to Bring, and What to Bring


Now, assuming that you have the most wonderful, beautiful, visitor friendly spot picked out to escape into nature, you’re going to need to plan your trip. Here are some things to consider before setting out: Is the location five minutes away or fifty? Is it in your hometown or is it in the next state over? Do you want to spend the afternoon there or the whole weekend? What provisions should you bring? And who do you want to bring along with you, if anyone? These are questions that you need to answer before we proceed.



If you want to spend more than the afternoon out and about, then you will need to decide where and what you’ll eat. You do not need to make something fancy for the trip; some simple sandwiches will probably do just fine. If you don’t even want to make something simple, you can pick out a nearby restaurant and make your way there for meals. Try to keep the potential cost of eating out in mind, especially for multi-day trips.



If you are going to be out in the wild for a few days, consider bringing a friend or two. The buddy system is never a bad idea, and you can use this as an opportunity to bond. If you’re doing this with your family, consider bringing another family along. Your mutual children could form lifelong friendships here.



Lastly, make sure to bring the proper sleeping gear if you stay overnight. Be it with a camper or a sleeping bag, you’re going to want to keep warm and sheltered.


Planning the Scavenger Hunt


When making the actual scavenger hunt the length should be determined by how long you intend to stay in the wilderness. The shorter the stay, the shorter the scavenger hunt list. It’s as simple as that. Don’t bite off more than you can chew and don’t make unexpected extensions to your trip to try and finish the list off. Stick to the plan you initially set out.



As for the items that you should be looking for, those should be selected based on what you’re interested in. If you want to learn about mushrooms then center it around mushrooms. If you want to learn to identify different trees, then center it around trees.



Don’t narrow your scope entirely to inanimate objects though. Birds, lizards, or deer could all be “items” on your list. Likewise, you don’t need to physically collect anything. Just seeing them is enough. So don’t go chasing after any animals. You might risk harming them, or yourself for that matter. Instead, consider a decent pair of binoculars so that you can observe from far away.


Using a Nature Scavenger Hunt as an Educational Tool


If you have children this might be the most beneficial aspect of a wilderness scavenger hunt. If not, well, it certainly can’t hurt to learn some things for yourself, can it? In this scenario you are going to want to structure the scavenger hunt in such a way that it helps you identify useful natural objects.



For instance, you could make it a goal to identify edible insects, or endangered species. You could attempt to locate plants that have medical attributes. Just be careful and consult a reputable guide before making use of anything like that. This goes doubly so if you have children.



We can by no means recommend going into the wilderness and consuming anything without having consulted a professional on the matter first. It’s just a useful thing to know in case of emergency. Who knows when you’ll need to know what to eat if you’re stranded in the woods? Just be sure you don’t resort to eating anything like that unless it is an honest to goodness emergency. No sooner – and certainly no later – should you apply the knowledge you could potentially gain.


For a range of outdoor scavenger hunts and easy to use infographics of how to organize them, check out: