Bighorn Canyon NRA – Wyoming & Montana


Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
Montana & Wyoming

Completed: June 20, 2016

Copy for download;

This recreation area spans two states, Wyoming and Montana. The Bighorn River is dammed at the northern end, in Montana, to form a large reservoir. I have camped at both ends, in Wyoming and Montana, most recently in Montana twice in the past year. During this last visit I picked up the Junior Ranger Booklet and was able to complete it during my visit.

This program is not rated as Senior Friendly as the booklet lists two age groups; ages 6-9 and ages 10-12. However, the staff willingly provided the booklet to this senior. Ages 6-9 are to complete four pages with ages 10-12 completing five of seven pages.

The activities in the booklet include; Yellowtail Dam, A Scavenger Hunt, Historic Sites, Bighorn Canyon Word Search, Bighorn Canyon Bingo, The Bighorn River Maze and the final page is journal to record your activities.

Cedar Waxwing

I enjoyed the Scavenger Hunt which is based on information in the park brochure, as well as your observations. The bingo activity included a short description of each item on the page, this provided additional information of the item seen while touring the park. The last page as a journal where I recorded what I saw and heard while at the park, as well as sharing what I enjoyed most during my visit. For me, identifying a new bird, Eastern Kingbird, was the most enjoyable.

I returned to the visitor center at the Yellowtail Dam and an intern reviewed my booklet and administered the pledge. I enjoy meeting the interns that provide important staffing for so many of the parks.

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument – Arizona


Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Senior Friendly

Completed: August 1, 2014


As a national monument, almost in my background, this is a site I have visited numerous times over the years. A very favorite campground, Bonito, is across the road from the visitor center. I have actually completed this Junior Ranger program twice, March 2013 and August 2014. The first time I completed with my two grandchildren and then on my own. And as I have stated before I learned and experienced something new.

This program is considered Senior Friendly as no age groupings are given, just the direction to complete five or more pages. There are six pages in the booklet. A nice feature of this program is you may turn in your completed packet at either the Sunset Crater Volcano or Wupatki visitor centers. There is a beautiful drive between the two sites which allows you to continue on your trip without returning to the visitor center.

The activities are; Monitoring Our Living Earth, The Great Earth Puzzle, A Place of Cultural Importance, Legend Has It, Excellent Eruptions, Lookin’ at the Lava, Making a Difference, A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words and Sunset Search.

The answers for the first several activities are found in the visitor center displays. A monitor shows current earthquake activity, on my two visits I located recent earthquakes in Alaska, California, and the Tonga Islands.

While walking along the Lava Flow Trail through the Bonito Lava Flow I was able to locate five of the seven features; Sunset Crater Volcano, San Francisco Mountain, Aa lava, Xenolith and a Squeeze-up.

One of my favorite activities when completing Junior Ranger programs is interviewing a park ranger. Ranger Robert told me he had a degree in Field Biology and his favorite place in the park is the O’Leary Trail because it provides a nice overview of the park. On my second visit in March 2014 I combined the last two activities into one by drawing Sunset Search finds.

Junior Cave Scientist – multiple sites

Dixon Cave at Mammoth Cave National Park

Junior Cave Scientist
Geologic Resources Division – multiple sites

Completed: August 13, 2016 @ Cumberland Gap NHP – Kentucky

While traveling in northern California during June 2016 I visited Lava Beds National Monument and was offered this booklet. It is produced by the Geologic Resources Division, Cave and Karst Program ( This is a program which can be completed over a period of time and at multiple park sites. I ended up turning in the boomlet at Cumberland Gap National Historic Park in Kentucky.

This program is considered Senior Friendly as there is no upper age given. The three age groups are: Flashlight, ages 5-7, Lantern, ages 8-11, and Helmet and Headlamp, ages 12 and up.


To earn this badge you are to complete the number activities equal to your age and in your age category. In total there are nineteen different activities, they are; What ate Caves and Karst?, Be Cave Safe!, How to be a Careful Caver, Name that Cave, Icing on the Cave, Troglofauna Trio, Reveal the Mysteries of The Cave Dwellers, Cave Microbiology, Flying Mammals, Zones of a Cave, Dispelling Batty Myths, Uncover the Mystery of the Bat Killer, Finding Fossils in Caves, Evidence of Ancient Animals, Travel Back in Time with Cave Archeology, Karst is All Around You, Living with Karst, Find a Solution to the Pollution and Caves Need Care.

Some of my favorite activities were learning about Troglofauna Trio, the different animals which live in caves, Bat Anatomy on the Flying Mammals page and labeling fossils found in caves as body or trace. There is a lot of information within the pages of this booklet, most pages include some background information which helps you to complete the activity. You do not need to visit any one park site to earn this badge.

A Collapsed Cave at Lava Beds National Monument

The ranger at Cumberland Gap NHP was very enthusiastic to review my booklet and award me the unique wooden badge and certificate. I had stamped the booklet with the NPS passport stamps at Lava Beds NM, Mammoth Cave NP and at Cumberland Gap NHP. This was a very educational program which provided me with lots of valuable information about caves; their ecology and geology.


Cumberland Gap National Historical Park – Kentucky, Tennessee & Virginia


Senior Friendly

Completed: August 13, 2016

This year while criss-crossing the country collecting the NPS Centennial stamps I was fortunate to be able to re-visit Cumberland Gap. This is a special park site, as my ancestors moved through the Gap to settle in Kentucky and Tennessee. Visiting in August was not ideal, it was a hot and humid day. The activities for this Junior Ranger program could be completed without too much discomfort.


All ages can complete this program, earning it a Senior Friendly designation. The instructions just indicate to complete as many activities as you can in the booklet. The activities include; National Parks Near You!, Groovy Movie Trivia, Visitor Center Exhibit Crossword Puzzle, Pioneer Playhouse, Wildflower Tic Tac Toe, Dr. Thomas Walker Word Search, Pioneer Journal, Visions of Cumberland Gap, Operation Overlook, Beat Brush Mountain!, Settlement Spelling Bee, Cave Creations, Bats Like Us!, A Balanced Bear Diet, Wanted! Exotic Invaders, Ranger Reporter, Mountain Melodies, Art Splash, and Cumberland Gap Greetings!

Wow – lots of choices and most easy to complete during an afternoon’s visit. I appreciated the variety of activities and the information that many of the pages provided about this park. The movies in the visitor center gave information about Daniel Boone’s role in westward expansion and the geographical uniqueness of the Cumberland Gap. The crossword puzzle’s answers could be found by exploring the exhibits in the visitor center; another summer-friendly activity.


Writing about my ancestor’s experience in the Visions of Cumberland Gap gave me a direction connection to this park. Cave Creations reinforced what I have learned at other National Park sites with caves. An anatomy lesson of a bat allowed comparison between humans and bats, both mammals. One my favorite activities at any park is interviewing a park ranger. The ranger, Sharon, shared her background and favorite part of her job. She told me that in April 2016, on one day, 2,500 Junior Rangers were awarded – amazing!

After reviewing my completed booklet I received two Junior Rangers badges, the traditional badge and the special one awarded in April.


Lava Beds National Monument – California

imageLava Beds National Monument

Completed: May 29, 2016

Senior Friendly

At the northern edge of California is a desolate landscape which offers great opportunity to explore caves, at least twenty. The views across the lava beds are stunning. This is a favorite national monument which I enjoy visiting and was pleased to have time to complete their Junior Ranger program.


This is considered Senior Friendly as the upper age limit is listed as Ages 12 and older, as well as two age groupings of 5-7 and 8-11. The groupings are titled; from youngest to oldest, Blue Bird, Sagebrush Mariposa Lily and Modoc. Besides completing the age-appropriate and required activities attending a Ranger-guided program or view the park video to earn this badge.

Activities include; Cave Safety, Cave Softly, Leave No Trace, It’s a Wild, Wild Life, Modoc Culture, Formations of Mushpot, As the Lava Flows, Goin’ Batty with Ben, Drawings in the Rocks, If Rocks Could Tell Stories…, National Park Service Mission, Camp Lava Beds, Protecting Our House, What is Wilderness?, and Lava Beds Maze.


There are 4 activities required for all ages and 4 Modoc pages. The National Park Service Mission page was a good way to explore the mission statement, it included correcting an incorrect statement by selecting a better word and to have you write what the Mission statement means to you. The most challenging activity was the Camp Lava Beds which has you spend the $25 a Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) family member sent back home for a family to live on in 1935. Even at 1935 prices $25 did not go very far.

Protecting Our House and What is Wilderness? were both two page spreads that used maps to identify the main ecosystems and wildernesses in the park, as well as a place to write up your experience while in a portion of a wilderness within the park boundaries. I walked out a sort distance on the Whitney Butte Trail.

Once done I brought the completed booklet to the visitor center a ranger reviewed the booklet and discussed my answers. The ranger filled in the certificate, then had me recite the Junior Ranger pledge before giving me the badge. This was a program that was well-designed for older kids and this Senior.


Golden Spike National Historic Site – Utah

Golden Spike National Site

Completed: May 22, 2016

Senior Friendly


Three years ago I began completing Junior Ranger programs, as a Senior! As I have traveled around the country I have completed almost 100 Senior or Junior Ranger programs. By completing this program I have done all of the Junior Ranger programs for the NPS sites in Utah. I still have a couple to complete to Arizona, my home state. This is another program which I was able to download and print the booklet before I left home and was able to complete a portion before arriving.

This is considered Senior Friendly as there is no age range given, the activities include; Safety First, Plan your Visit, Track Match, Scavenger Hunt, Central Pacific, Union Pacific and You Built It!, Telegraph Message, Write the Headline, Weather Report, Garbage or Artifact, and Engrave A Spike.

Several of the facts were found in the exhibits in the visitor center. It took a while to find the name of the restaurant at Promontory in 1869. It was in a wood panel hanging on the wall.


I enjoyed looking around until I found the portrait of the local woman who was instrumental in establishing this site as an NPS site. Figuring out the parts of a train track was challenging. Throughout the booklet, at the bottom of the pages, was an incomplete track linking Sacramento to Omaha. An activity was to draw in the missing parts; tracks, bridges, tunnels, culvert and trestles.

The ranger on duty reviewed my booklet, we discussed the location of some of the answers that were found in the visitor center. Ranger Cole signed my certificate, issued pledge and gave me the badge.

Pipe Spring National Monument – Arizona


Pipe Spring National Monument

Completed: May 18, 2016

Senior Friendly


Pipe Spring National Monument is in the Arizona Strip, a northern section of the state that looks dry; this site is an oasis. The building, Winsor Castle, was built by early ranchers on land that the Paiute Indians called home for at least 1000 years. The visitor center and living history displays on the grounds tells the whole story from ancient times to the late 1800s. It is a great place to explore.


This program gets the Senior Friendly rating as no age limits is given. I printed the booklet before I left home and was able to complete several of the activities before I arrived. Once there I spent additional time in the visitor center and attended a ranger program to complete this program. There is no requirement to attend a ranger program, however the information I learned helped me in completing the booklet.

The activities include; Pipe Spring Scavenger Hunt, Explore the Museum, Animal Tracks at Pipe Spring National Monument, Pipe Spring Outside, Wagonload Supplies, Fort Tour, Match Past to Present, and Paiute Language.


All of the activities gave me a better understanding of the history of this site, and of the natural environment of this area, including changes in water resources. The tour of the house with the period contents gives you a good idea what life was like in the 1800s.

Once I completed all of the activities my booklet was reviewed by staff at the front desk. I appreciated their review and discussion we had to clarify some of my answers. After reciting the Junior Ranger Pledge and stamping my booklet with their passport and NPS Centennial stamp I received an enhanced badge. The badge depicts an outline of Winsor Castle.


Lake Mead National Recreation Area – Arizona & Utah

Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Arizona – Nevada

Completed: February 24, 2016

Senior Friendly


Not far from Las Vegas, but a world away from the lights is Lake Mead. Camping along the shore brought a beautiful evening glow on the cliffs as the sun was setting. Before setting up camp I picked up the Junior Ranger Guide and Activity Book to begin work on the activities.

For the hike activity we walked along the Historic Railroad Trail, a trail that was built to build the Hoover/Boulder Dam. Along the way there are interpretative signs, as well as great views. As this is in a desert environment there were flowers in bloom along the trail.

This program is considered Senior Friendly as the only age instruction is if you are older than ten you are to complete all (6) of the activities in the booklet. The activities are; Rangers and their jobs…, From River to Reservoir, Leave No Treads, Adaptations Tic-Tac-Toe, who Belongs Here?, and Junior Archaeologist.

The word puzzle was a creative way to list the different kind of responsibilities that park rangers have, letters and symbols were used for you to name the job. From River to Reservoir told how Lake Mead, as a reservoir was formed. Using pictures that were out of order you number them to show the order of the water’s path.

I really enjoyed the Adaptations Tic-Tac-Toe, a nice change from the standard park bingo. Nine adaptations were given and if you see the adaptation while in the park you draw what you see. In addition to the several things that I did see I drew an representation of the other adaptations that plants and animals have to survive in the desert environment in this area.

What I liked about this Junior Ranger program is a short description or information was provided with each activity so you learned some background information before completing the activity. Who Belongs Here? gave very good information about native and invasive plants with a good explanation of why invasive plants can harm the local environment.

Once completed you can take it to the Alan Bible Visitor Center, or if you have already left the area you can mail the booklet. Either way you will receive a certificate and an attractive patch.

Big Thicket National Preserve – Texas


Big Thicket National Preserve

Completed: March 29, 2016

Senior Friendly

This was a return visit for me, my third time here. When I was here last, in November 2013, I was able to explore more, including a hike along the Kirby Nature Trail. The Preserve is made up of multiple sections of land along the Eastern edge of Texas.

The cooler and drier weather made the time outside enjoyable. Today was overcast, the area had experienced recent flooding and mosquitos were thick. This time I wanted to complete the Junior Ranger, I combined my hike from the previous visit with time spent watching the park movie and exploring the visitor center displays.

This program is Senior Friendly, it is even stated in the introduction that “any person of any age can become a Junior Ranger”. I like that they specify ‘any person of any age’! I believe this is the first program, of almost 100 I have completed, that clearly includes all ages.

In the introduction the booklet looks fairly simple, you are expected to complete two of four activities; watch park movie, complete Visitor Center scavenger hunt, hike a trail and complete back of brochure and explore one of two areas by boat. I was able to complete 3 of the 4 activities, using the hike from the previous visit. The scavenger hunt seemed it would be easy, however once I started working on the Visitor Center Habitat Match I found it challenging. I also learned that there are nine distinct habitats within the Preserve. I needed help with placing an animal in their habitat with at one of the animal/habitat matches, the ranger was helpful.

For the hike section I completed it based on exploring the area outside the visitor center, as I couldn’t remember many of the animals or plants I saw in November 2013. I found a small strawberry plant with a berry turning red, I drew that in the ‘Express Yourself’ section.

The ranger on duty reviewed my completed booklet and had prepared a very professional certificate, with my name printer-generated. He initially gave me the standard Junior Ranger badge, but before I left he switched it out for an enhanced badge, featuring the Longleaf Pine of the Preserve.

Booklet, certificate & badge.

Padre Island National Seashore – Texas

Padre Island National Seashore

Completed: March 28, 2016

Senior Friendly

After camping within the park and waking to thunder and lightning I went to the Malaquite Visitor Center to pick up the Junior Ranger booklet. As the rain was still falling I found a dry bench on the large porch to begin working on the booklet.

The program is Senior Friendly as no age grouping is given. The introduction indicates you can work alone, with family or a group of friends. All activities are expected to be completed.

Activities include; Ask a Ranger, Winging It, Against All Odds, Ask the Turtle Expert, The Park in the Dark, Beach Clean-Up, The People of Padre, A World of Jellies, and Seashell Search. Between displays in the visitor center, videos in the center and a walk on the beach I was able to complete all of the activities in about two hours.

Hanging out on the beach

I enjoyed all of the activities and appreciated the diversity of the activities. Winging It has you identify 5 different birds and their unique environments. Protecting sea turtles, especially Kemp’s Ridley, nesting on the island is an important part of this park’s mission. Learning about them and thinking about how to protect them made me think how important this endangered animal is to this ecosystem.

Pelican Fly-over

The Seashell Search took me out on the beach to find as many examples pictured as I could find. Inside the visitor center is a touch table with all of the shells displayed. I was pleased to be able to find four of the 15 shells on the beach and then spent time finding the others at the touch table. The Park in the Dark activity had you match eight animals that are active in the dark. I did not realize the Black Skimmer would be active after dark.

In addition to the standard Junior Ranger badge you can earn a patch if you pick up a bag of trash while beachcombing. I found a shopping bag along the walkway on my way down to beach which I used to collect of full bag of trash; plastic water bottles, parts of toys and even a shoe. The staff in the visitor center will give you a bag and gloves for this activity.

Patch & sticker for collecting trash

Once done I went back to the visitor center to interview a ranger, Carlin. I always enjoy doing this activity, she was fairly new to this park, but was enthusiastic about her responsibilities, especially working with school groups. She reviewed my completed booklet and issued me the oath, certificate, turtle button and badge.

Booklet, badge, certificate & button