Devils Postpile National Monument – California


Devils Postpile National Monument
California

http://www.nps.gov/depo/index.htm

Completed: May 26, 2014

Senior Friendly

Love this site! Geology rocks, and so does geometry. This wonderful park site is only open in the summer, sometimes not until July! Check their website or call before you visit. Getting to the site is by shuttle bus from the ski area in Mammoth Lakes, unless you have a campground reservation down in the valley. Once there enjoy this unique geologic feature, make sure to hike to the top of the postpile.

This site is considered Senior Friendly as there is no upper age limit. If you are over 10 years of age then you are to complete at least 10 of the 12 activities. The activities are; The Prepared Hiker, Attend A Program / Interview A Ranger, Geology Rocks, Trace Your Trail, National Parks are Everywhere, Using Your Senses, The National Park Service, Scavenger Hunt, Devils Postpile: Fire & Ice, The Scenic San Joaquin, The Rainbow Fire, and Leave No Trace.

By far my favorite activity was Geology Rocks, as previously I had looked at the wall of rock at ground level. This activity had you draw the structures seen from ground level and then from on top. Seeing the geometric shapes on top which form the columns was great. While up there you can also complete the activity, Devils Postpile: Fire & Ice by recording the shapes of at least 10 columns, I found; 2 square, 3 pentagon and 5 hexagon-shaped columns.

The Scavenger Hunt had six items to discover and draw which is always a challenge for me, but good practice. Using Your Senses was another drawing activity. I spent some time drawing the Summer Tanager I saw while hiking in the area. Even though it involved a Word Search I learned something surprising about this area, the river in the valley is the San Joaquin River. This is a river I have seen on the west side of the Sierras, so I was surprised that its headwaters were in a valley on the east side. Goes to prove, you can always learn something new when completing a Junior Ranger program.

 

The very best part of this visit was having my booklet reviewed by Ranged Elsa. We both recognized each other, it took a few moments to remember where we had previously met. The Fall before she had been the ranger in Yosemite who had awarded my grandson and I our Junior Ranger badges. I received a very attractive patch, in the shape of a hexagon, of course.

Downloadable copy:
https://www.nps.gov/depo/learn/kidsyouth/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&PageID=374668

Advertisements

White Sands National Monument – New Mexico

White Sands National Monument
New Mexico

http://www.nps.gov/whsa/index.htm

Completed: May 3, 2017

Senior Friendly

After many visits over the years, I finally completed the Junior Dunes Ranger Activity Book. Whether you arrive from the east or west it is spectacular to see the pure white sands in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert, the largest desert in North America. This is a popular park site for families, as you can climb the dunes and slide down.

This program is Senior Friendly as there is no upper age limit.

Activities include; Recording Your Memories, Having Fun and Being Safe, Solving Riley’s Riddles, Discovering Who Lives Here, Looking for Shapes, Meeting a Ranger, Finding Your Way, Dining in the Desert, Transforming Rock into Sand and Dunes, Exploring the Soaptree Yucca, Meeting the Dunefield, Holding the Dunes Together, Nature and Geology Checklist.

The graphics for Transforming Rocks into Sand and Dunes was helpful to understand the sand creating process. The dunes are stark, and the few plants which grow on the dunes offer special beauty. Exploring the Soaptree Yucca was a good botany lesson.

As dry as it appears while visiting White Sand Dunes NM, it is surprising to learn how water is important to creating the dunes. Holding the Dunes Together explains how the water cycle makes these dunes possible.

Back in the visitor center the ranger on duty reviewed my booklet and awarded me their enhanced Junior Ranger badge. The badge depicts a Greater Roadrunner, with the dunes in the background. Once again I learned that the booklet available onsite is slightly different than the one I copied from their website. Either booklet will give you an opportunity to explore and enjoy this unique and beautiful site in the center of New Mexico.

Booklet download;
https://www.nps.gov/whsa/learn/kidsyouth/upload/jr_ranger_book_final_9_24_15_reduced_file_size.pdf

Carlsbad Caverns National Park – New Mexico


Carlsbad Caverns National Park

http://www.nps.gov/caca/index.htm

Completed: May 4, 2017

Senior Friendly

Download: https://www.nps.gov/cave/learn/kidsyouth/upload/JRRanger7-12final-7-1-2011.pdf
For ages 7 – 12

I have toured Carlsbad Caverns several times over the years, based on those experiences, plus time I spent above ground on this visit, I was able to complete this Junior Ranger program. I always enjoy the drive in, through the canyon winding up to the visitor center. On this visit we took the loop dirt road which leaves the main road, near the visitor center, and comes back to the east. There are several pullouts and trailheads. We hiked up a ridge, almost to the park boundary, enjoying the Chihuahuan Desert ecosystem. So, there is more than just caverns at this park.

The booklet I completed was for ages 7 – 12 which I downloaded and printed before this visit. The park webpage indicates a downloadable copy of the booklet for ages 13 and up will be available in the future, the booklet for the older participants is available on site. To earn the badge for ages 7 – 12, you need to complete 7 of 14 activities. With no upper age limit this program is considered Senior Friendly.

The activities are; Respect and Protect, It Makes Perfect Sense!, Cave Scavenger Hunt, The Carlsbad Caverns Story, Ask a Ranger, Go Take a Hike!, What’s the Word?, Caverns Word Search, Draw Your Own Pictograph, Carlsbad Caverns Diamante, Hike the Natural Entrance, Walk through the Big Room, Ranger-guided tour and Ranger program/movie.

It Makes Perfect Sense! has you name the five senses and use four of them to describe cave features, such as hearing water drops. On this visit I hiked the Nature Trail, at the east end of the Visitor Center to identify ten plants and their use by people. Pictures in the booklet match with plants along the trail with signs which provide the plant name and uses.

Bat viewing Amphitheater

What’s the Word? was a crossword puzzle which the clues provided interesting information about the caverns, both natural history and geologic formations. I am usually not a big fan of a Word Search, but this one was presented with the key words embedded in several paragraphs describing the environment and cave formation process. I appreciate having some information about the words for which I am searching.

I enjoyed writing my poem for Carlsbad Caverns Diamante, a diamond-shaped poem which began with the word cave and ended with cavern. The seven line poem format was explained very well, I enjoyed coming up with the nouns, adjectives and participles (action words ending in ‘ing’) to describe caves.

With my completed booklet I brought it to the ranger desk in the Visitor Center for review. This is where I learned about the booklet for Ages 13 and above which has a few additional activities with more difficulty, but interesting. The booklet I completed was reviewed and I was awarded their enhanced Junior Ranger badge depicting cave formations.

Fort Union National Monument – New Mexico

Fort Union National Monument
New Mexico

http://www.nps.gov/foun/index.htm

Completed: July 20, 2017

Senior Friendly

Download: https://www.nps.gov/foun/learn/kidsyouth/upload/FOUNJr-RangerBooklet-2.pdf

Located in Northern New Mexico, just off I-25 the ruins of this fort transport you back in time. The walking tour of the grounds allow you to get a good feel of what it might have felt like to be here in the 1800s. Wear your walking shoes and Get Outside! As a place I have visited numerous times over the years I found this visit to be the most enjoyable because of what I learned and experienced completing their Junior Ranger program.

This Junior Ranger program is Senior Friendly as there is no upper age range. The age groupings and required number of activities to complete are;

The activities are; Only A Few Have This Sort of View, Fort Union Timeline, Fort Scavenger Hunt, What Is It?, ?Como Se Dice?, The Santa Fe Trail, Trail Listeners, Weather Wonders, Compass Connection and In Your Own Words. The first activity, Only A Few Have This View, shows the diversity of this stark landscape which includes mountains, a volcanic field, and earthworks.

Walking the fort grounds and answering the questions took some time and detective work, it also makes you realize this was like a small city. What I found amazing was the elevation marker was so accurate, it was recorded in 1867. What Is It was a fun activity using macro photos with a short description, then scrambled letters for you to unscramble to get the answer. Plus they leave a square for you to create and draw your own item, I attempted to draw a meadowlark (klraaodwem).

All of the activities were enjoyable and meaningful. While walking around the fort I enjoyed watching, and then talking to a Restoration Worker who was working on one of the many walls that they have to restore and maintain. He told me about some of the materials they use for the process, which I recounted in the last activity – In Your Own Words.

The young ranger on duty was enthusiastic and appreciative of this Senior Ranger completing the program. Once the booklet was reviewed I was administered the oath and received the standard Junior Ranger badge.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park – Colorado

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Colorado

http://www.nps.gov/blgu/index.htm

Completed: June 23, 2016

Senior Friendly

Be prepared for spectacular views of a river flowing – down in a narrow canyon. There is so much to see and do in Colorado and easy to bypass this park -Don’t! Do turn off the highway and come explore, both the North and South Rim.

Before I arrived at the South Rim Visitor Center I had stopped at the Curecanti National Recreation Area, just east on US 50, and picked up a Junior Ranger Activity Book for Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP. I completed the booklet by driving the road along the rim and stopping at several overlooks. When I turned in the completed booklet I learned I had been given the booklet for the youngest crowd (designed for ages 4 – 6), however the staff awarded me the Junior Ranger badge. On my next visit I’ll complete the more advanced program.

The booklet I completed had five activities, and four had to be completed to earn the badge.
The activities are; Draw the Black Canyon!, Are you my Mother?, Explore the Wild Inner Canyon!, Who lives Here? and Tic-Tac-Toe! As with other basic Junior Ranger programs I enjoyed this booklet, especially taking time to work on Draw the Black Canyon.

Are you my Mother? had you match a picture of the young with an adult animal, like a caterpillar with a butterfly. The nine squares for Tic-Tac-Toe were fairly easy to complete three in a row, some of the activities that I completed were; having a picnic, spot a soaring bird, visit two overlooks, smell a sagebrush and take a picture, as well as other activities.

Ranger Amy was enthusiastic in reviewing my booklet, signing the certificate on the back of the booklet and issuing my enhance wooden Junior Ranger badge. The badge depicts steep canyon walls and the Gunnison River.

Ebey’s Landing National Historic Preserve – Washington

Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve
Washington

http://www.nps.gov/ebla/index.htm

Completed: June 28, 2017

https://www.nps.gov/ebla/learn/kidsyouth/upload/2017-On-line-Jr-Ranger-Book.pdf

Senior Friendly

What is a National Historical Reserve? Basically, it is a living, working community primarily on private land with significant historical sites preserved and interpreted by a combination of private and public organizations. Ebey’s Landing NHR is located on Whidbey Island, west of downtown Seattle. Lighthouses, docks, farm fields, prairies, salt marshes, Native American artifacts, abundant wildlife and plants, and 19th century buildings provide the visitor with a diverse environment to explore.

This program is Senior Friendly as there is no upper age grouping. The age groupings and the number of required activities are; ages 10 and under complete 7 activities and ages 10 or older complete 14 activities.

The activities are; Nature Bingo, Getting to Know This Place, The Making of a Reserve, Word Search & Glossary, Then and Now, Hunt for Skagit Village Names, Coupeville’s Front Street, Admiralty Lighthouse, Coastal Salish People, What Helped Make the Prairies?, Hedgerows, Habitats within the Reserve, The Race for Empire in the Pacific Northwest, The Settlers Arrive, What Vegetables Do You Eat?, Growing Food On the Prairies, Letter to a Friend, Getting around Whidbey Island, and Alexander Blockhouse.

Learning about the race between Spain and England to claim this land is evident in the place names found in the area; from Rosario Strait to Penn Cove show their respective country’s influence in the late 1700s. Understanding that glaciers scoured this land to created the prairies, you can hike through today, is explained in What Helped Make the Prairies?”.

I really enjoyed exploring Coupeville’s Front Street to find historic buildings with plaques which indicate the year the building was built. This buildings along the street today are charming with a variety of businesses; restaurants, gift shops, bookstore, fiber store, and art galleries.

Once you complete the booklet you can take it to three different locations; Ebey’s Reserve Trust Board Office, Island County Historical Museum or the Central Whidbey Chamber of Commerce. I took my booklet to the Reserve office where a staff member reviewed my booklet and presented me with an attractive patch and enhanced Junior Ranger badge. The badge features the geographic features highlighted on this preserve; water, coastline, bluffs, prairies and forest.

Olympic National Park – Washington

Olympic National Park
Washington

http://www.nps.gov/olym/index.htm

Completed: June 25, 2017

Senior Friendly

This summer we visited several sections of the park, spending most of our time camping along Kalaloch Beach. Olympic has something for everyone – ocean, rivers, lakes, rainforest and mountains. No matter where you roam in this park there is plenty to see and do. Completing the Junior Ranger activities is easy with so much variety to explore.

Age groupings are Ages 5 to 7, complete five activities and Ages 8 and above, complete seven of the nine activities, plus all ages are to attend a ranger program, walk a trail and interview a ranger. Activities are; Where are your national parks?, Nature Hike Bingo, Tree of Life, Fishing for Home, Get Connected!, Seashore Detective, What’s for dinner?, Help a Ranger and Park Poet.

While camped at Kalaloch Beach I attended an evening ranger talk about Destruction Island, just off the coast. The first recorded shipwreck was in 1808, a lighthouse was built in the late 1800s and today it part of the Quillayute Needles National Wildlife Refuge. My hike activity was along the beach, enjoying tide pools and observing a juvenile and adult Bald Eagle.

For the activities in the booklet I enjoyed the Nature Hike Bingo. Besides looking for a variety of natural features I drew several of them, not an artist, but a skill I keep practicing. For Get Connected, which has you identify things you; saw, heard, smelled and touched, while exploring the park I sketched the juvenile Bald Eagle I saw perched on the top of a tall pine tree along the coast. My outline of the trees and perching tree look much better than the bird.

What’s For Dinner features the complex web of the plants and animals in the park, basically having you match a large variety of plants and based on what they eat. Orca whales eat Salmon, Starfish eat Mussels, a woodpecker eat ants, and so on. For the final activity I wrote a cinquain-style poem linking the forest and trees.

 

By the time I attended the evening ranger talk I had completed all of the activities for this program. After the program, Ranger Bethany reviewed my booklet, discussed some of work with me and awarded me the enhanced badge, featuring the Elk found in the park. This is a park that I will return to, there is so much to experience in a variety a ecosystems – Truly, something for everyone!

Walnut Canyon National Monument – Arizona

Walnut Canyon National Monument
Arizona

http://www.nps.gov/waca/imdex.htm

Completed: August 25, 2017

Senior Friendly

I actually completed this program in 2013 with my grandson, but misplaced the booklet and badge. I cherish the time I spent working on this with him, but wanted to have a replacement booklet and badge for this blog, so I worked on it while on my way to and from the Grand Canyon National Park this summer.

This park has ruins from 1300 CE when the Sinagua people inhabited the area. What makes these ruins unique is the ‘island’ of rock which the ruins are scattered along and many are accessible or at least easily seen from a one-mile trail which encircles the island. As this park sits at 7,000 feet and you have to walk down 185 vertical feet on stone stairs you need to carry water and be in good health. Not all of the ruins can be seen along the trail. The picture above shows some below the trail, these could be seen from a trail along the rim from the visitor center.

Three age groupings and their icon: Ages 7 and under – Horned Lizard, Ages 8 to 11 – Squirrel and Ages 12 and up – Raven. Each group is to complete the activities matching the icon showing on each page, with each group having three activities to complete.

Activities are; Trekking In and Out of the Canyon, Plant Hunter, Canyon Puzzler, A-MAZE-ing Trails, SENSE-ational Walnut Canyon, To Protect and Preserve, Park Rangers at Work, Where in the Canyon, Identify a Tree, Respect to Protect and Notes from the Edge. The last two activities are for all ages. The Raven activities are; Canyon Puzzler, To Protect and Preserve and Identify a Tree.

I always enjoy completing a crossword puzzle based on the park, much more than a word search. I always learn something from the clues. To Protect and Preserve was interesting, using a word bank, blanks are filled in to reconstruct the proclamation that established Walnut Canyon National Monument by President Woodrow Wilson in 1915. Wow, this site was established a year before the National Park Service was created from the Department of the Interior.

Identify a Tree is a great resource, besides helping me identify a Ponderosa Pine while visiting, it will help to identify other trees in the future. It uses a method of yes and no questions which create a key leading to six different trees found in this area, and throughout Arizona and the Southwest.

Ruin on rim

On the day I picked up the booklet a ceremony had just finished dedicating a plaque honoring Stephen Tyng Mather, considered the founder of the National Park Service. Not every site has a plaque, many were placed in the 1930s, again in the 1960s. The NPS Centennial in 2016 renewed interest in placing these plaques at more parks. Through private donations this plaque was installed on August 25, 2017. We missed the dedication, but enjoyed some cake. A few days later I returned with my booklet completed and received their beautiful wooden badge. This wooden badge is sturdier than other wooden badges I have received, probably not walnut, though.

Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site – Arizona

Visitor Center

Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site
Arizona

http://www.nps.gov/hutr/index.htm

Completed: April 8, 2017

Senior Friendly

https://www.nps.gov/hutr/learn/kidsyouth/upload/Junior%20Ranger%20for%20Website-2.pdf

A visit to Hubbell Trading Post NHS is a step back in time, a time when this trading post would have been bustling with locals, brought by horse to trade their goods for supplies. This site has been active since 1878, and still serves the local Navajos as a place to buy goods , as well as trade or sell their crafts. You can walk into the trading post, buy some of the traditional items, such as blue cornmeal, hand-woven rugs and exquisite jewelry, as well as modern snacks and drinks. There are not a lot of buildings open to visit, without being on a tour, but the grounds are relaxing to stroll through.

The visitor center is along the road into the site and has some interesting displays. I picked up the booklet from the ranger on duty. The downloadable booklet linked above is a different booklet, it has more activities with better graphics. Both booklets only require completing four activities and neither give an upper, or lower age.

Stone Hogan

I completed all four activities; Visitor Center Facts, Matching Terms, Cross Number Puzzle and Navajo Rug. As simple as this booklet seemed to be, I have to say finding some of the answers was challenging. It caused me to read the displays very carefully. I really enjoyed the Cross Number Puzzle, using only numbers to fill in the grids was unique. Coloring the Navajo rug was fun.

It probably took about an hour to complete the booklet I received. Having to complete only four activities, also in the new booklet will probably just take an hour, as well. The ranger reviewed my answers, helped me with a few of the questions , then gave me a standard Junior Ranger badge.

Petrified Forest National Park – Arizona

Petrified Forest National Park
Arizona
http://www.nps.gov/pefo/imdex.htm

Completed: April 8, 2017

https://www.nps.gov/pefo/learn/kidsyouth/upload/JrRangerBook2017-ndd.pdf

Senior Friendly

You won’t just find beautiful petrified wood as you explore this park, you’ll also find unique buildings, remnants of Route 66, as well as dinosaur bones. Hopefully, you can drive the entire park, south to north, or reverse. Plan to stop and explore along the way, there are great views and short hikes to enjoy.

On a prior visit I had picked up a Junior Ranger booklet and worked on it before returning for this visit. Since picking up the booklet a new, with very nice and colorful graphics, booklet was issued. As I had completed the required number of activities listed in the new booklet I was awarded the Junior Ranger badge.

This program is Senior Friendly as no upper age limit is given. The age groupings and requirements are; 6 years or younger complete at least 3 activities, ages 7 to 10 complete at 5 activities and ages 11 or older complete at least 7 activities.

The twelve activities are; Experience Your America, Wildlife Watch, Archeology, Petrified Forest Crossword, Trail Explorer, Animal Adaptations, How Old Are These Things?, When We Left Home, No Bones About It, Petrified Wood Detective, Even More Spectacular, and Jr. Ranger Field Notes. I always appreciate when there are more activities than required for the upper age group, so I can pick and choose.

A unique feature of this program are the icons that can be found on park signs that match activities in the booklet. This is a big help as you travel and stop at the many interesting places, it alerts you to find a matching activity. I hope other parks add this feature to link their Junior Ranger activities to park signs.

As usual I enjoyed Wildlife Watch, as I find being alert for the local animals and their signs keeps it interesting while you are in a park. It makes you focus on what is out there, not just the activities in the booklet. On this trip I only saw Ravens and Lizards, I hope on a future visit to see Pronghorns. No Bones About It was a great activity while visiting the Rainbow Forest Museum, at the south end of the park, and use the information displayed to answer the questions.

Petrified wood is the reason to visit this park and Petrified Wood Detective allows you to get up and personal with a piece of wood and record what it feels like and the colors in the wood. Of course, while visiting the park it is OK to touch the wood, but not to remove it. As you enter and exit the park a ranger will talk to you about leaving all petrified wood in place. But, while out hiking in the park, spend time looking and touching the wide variety of textures and colors.

While driving the tour route I finished the booklet and stopped at the Painted Desert Inn, a beautiful building constructed with petrified wood in the early 1920s. The murals painted inside the rooms are gorgeous and well worth stopping to see. The ranger on duty reviewed my booklet, gave me a copy of the new booklet, had me recite the oath and awarded me their attractive enhance badge. The badge is shiny and depicts a landscape with a rising sun with petrified wood in the foreground. So much to see, get out and explore!