The Sun Basker's Guide to Nature Journaling
Live Life Outside

The Sun Basker's Guide to Nature Journaling

Have you ever been out on a hike, and are so enamored by the scenery, that you just want to sit down and soak it all in? We know that feeling of love all too well, and have the perfect activity to satiate the desire. Indulge the urge to sit and bask with nature journaling.

Nature journaling can enhance your appreciation for the outdoors by allowing you the chance to pause and engage the whole sensory experience. As fans of epic adventure and the great outdoors, we all know how good a forest walk is for the soul. But you may be able to deepen your connection to nature by bringing your journal and pencil along with you.

people hiking in nature

Sounds pretty sweet, right? So, what is nature journaling? And how can you bask in the sun while you do it?

What is nature journaling?

Put simply, nature journaling is illustrative observation that’s done outside. It’s slowing down to notice the details of your adventure, and then documenting it with sketches and notes. Think of it like artistic science journaling.

Naturalists love it because of its ability to spur curiosity of the natural world, and it’s another way to internalize and process the stimulus you’re experiencing. It’s like narrowing your scope on something specific that you find intriguing. For instance, maybe on your favorite trail, you noticed a mushroom has been steadily growing every week, or a patch of new flowers is in bloom. Instead of walking by, you can stop, pull out your nature journal, and capture the full picture.

How to Nature Journal

girl basking under the trees

The beautiful thing about nature journaling is there is absolutely no need for perfection! It’s only different from regular journaling in that it uses pictures, but you don’t need to be a fine artist to document the natural world.

The less pressure you put on yourself for perfection, the better. Along with stirring up your creativity and curiosity, nature journaling has the power to be pretty meditative. If you’re willing, put down the phone for this one and enjoy a little digital detox. Lose yourself to your senses, bask in the beauty of the landscape, and use nature journaling to practice mindfulness.

Don't Forget the Essentials

The essentials are limited, no worries! You really just need a pencil and a journal. Colored pencils will really immerse you in the sight of the object. And, obviously the best adventure sunglasses on the planet (your favorite hiking Sunskis).

woman wearing sunski sunglasses, beanie and sling

Stay prepared on your hike with all the gear you could need from shades to beanies to slings!

Fun companions that can enhance your nature journaling? A snack, so you can perch and sketch for longer. Binoculars, for a dialed in view. A sun-loving sling to carry all your goodies.

Your Muse

Something must spark your interest before you can truly begin. Whether it be a bird with interesting feathers or a tree with funky moss, find something that speaks to you and let it guide your pencil-wielding hand.

kaleidescope image of girl with a sunflower

Stop and smell the flowers in the Miho

Within reason, get to know your muse. Include as many senses as you can. If you picked moss, what does it smell like? If it’s a flower, how many petals does it have? Do the colors you see remind you of anything? What about texture? Sounds? Size? Don’t be afraid to think critically about all the details and really get into it.

Leave No Trace: Whatever you choose as your muse, make sure you’re letting it live peacefully. In short, don’t pick the flowers and don’t get too close to anything wild or dangerous. Keep the beauty pure for the next onlooker!

Get Sketching

Now that you’re well acquainted with your muse, you can plop down and sketch it out. It’s totally fine to take your time in this, and in fact, we totally encourage that. At Sunski, we see nature as the great restorer of sanity, the antidote to the mania of modern life. Slow living can be practiced in all sorts of ways, and nature journaling is one way to sink into a relaxed pace. 

man basking in the leaves

Sunski Alpine Collection has all the basking protection you could ask for

Besides, what better place is there to be than perched in the sun, admiring the earth? Savor it, bask in it!

Make Notes, too

You don’t have to rely solely on your world class art skills to satiate the scene. Writing notes can be equally as important! If you’d rather fill the whole page with images, by all means, make it your own. But you can also write in any info that you can’t adequately capture by drawing.

Notes may give you a new insight to your muse, too. For instance, do you think this small flower only blooms this time of year? Is this fungus the first of many to burst from the forest floor? Are the yellowing leaves characteristic of the first tree to break to fall? Hyperfixating on an object may open your eyes to how it contrasts the surrounding landscape.

man looking at the view

Ideas for notes? The date, time, and temperature. The location. Measurement approximations. Any kind of descriptive language can be peppered in the margin to round out the sensory experience.

Voila! You’ve captured your muse, and now you have a physical memory of your hike that doesn’t involve bluelight. And, even better, you’ve zoomed in your lens and observed the intricacies of the natural world. In this way, you’re all the more tethered to it.

If you’re looking for more insight into nature journaling, check out John Muir Laws. He’s a touted naturalist with workshops and seminars that focus on the subject.

Meet the Author

madison author bio

Along with writing blogs for Sunski, Madison creates nature books for kids. She grew up with BLM land in her backyard, which fueled her affinity for adventure and epic stories. In her spare time, she enjoys swimming, camping, and reading under the sun.