Mount Rainer National Park – Senior Ranger – Washington

http://www.nps.gov/mtra

Completed: July 6, 2014

Senior

This summer while at Mount Rainer National Park, I was pleased to learn that they now offer an adult activity, along the lines of a Junior Ranger program. Their program is called Citizen Ranger, for ages 12 or older.

We arrived at the Sunrise Visitor Center on July 3, the first day they were open for the season. The weather was perfect, clear skies and temperate, upper 60s. When I arrived mid-afternoon I asked about the Citizen Ranger program and I was greeted with enthusiasm by the ranger at the desk, “You’re the first to ask”. As I stated earlier they had only opened on that day.

The program is very diverse, basically you need to complete four quests to earn the Citizen Ranger award and patch. Each major visitor area; Sunrise, Ohanapecosh, Paradise and Longmire has a variety of quests from which to choose.

At Sunrise I completed the Journaling quest. While there I made observations and drawings on trees, birds, peaks and rocks. I spent a little over an hour exploring to gather the information I needed. When needed the rangers provided assistance. I enjoyed the activity, however one portion I found more Junior Ranger level, than adult level was the ‘Your Name for _______ (tree, bird, peak and rock).

Chipping Sparrow

At Ohanapecosh I completed their quest, Ancient Wonder Old Growth Quest. A unique part of this program is the option to record information as a digital photograph. On a two-sided paper there were six questions relating to Old Growth forests. By hiking trails in the area photographic evidence could be gathered and used to answer the questions. There are several longer trails in the area, however I was able to complete the quest within the campground and the nature trail behind the visitor center. While we were there in July 2014 the visitor center was only open from noon to 4 PM.

Ohanapecosh River

At Paradise I completed the Flower Power Quest. They had several quest options, but as a person very interested in wildflowers this was a natural for me. Identifying flowers was not the objective of this quest, but connecting adaptation in an alpine environment to a variety of flowers. When I choose this quest I was given an extensive hand-out which not only gave information about flower adaptation, but was a complete natural history guide about the total environment. Along with the handout, outside the visitor center a number of wildflowers were labeled and happily, were in bloom. Besides describing the adaptations of the five flowers, taking photos there was a three part final question which has you give suggestions on how to protect this fragile environment.

Paradise Flowers
Lupine

Avalanche Lily

At Longmire I also had a variety of choices, as well. I had plenty of time and had not spent a lot of time in this area in the past so I choose the Longmire Amazing Adventures! It turned out to be a very fun quest. Ranger Root provided me with a strip of paper identifying six adventures, each with a different theme; Facts, History, Ecology, Stewardship, Physical Processes and Stewardship. I was given one quest at a time, upon completion, after answering just a couple of questions on each, I would return for him to review my answers then give me another adventure. Besides gathering information by reading interpretative signs in the village, viewing displays and on trails I interviewed staff, a park volunteer and a guest registrar for the National Inn.

View of Mt. Rainer from Longmire

At each center when I competed their respective quest I received a quest stamp indicating the site. We were there for four days over the 4th of July and I completed one each day. I think you could compete the program in two days, maybe even one if you were very motivated. You could complete multiple quests at Paradise or Longmire. A wild card option is also available if you need a fourth quest, the rangers can further explain this option.

Certificate & Patch

I received my fourth Quest stamp I was awarded the certificate and a nice patch. In addition to the Quest stamp I stamped the certificate with each site’s park passport stamp. I try to do this with all programs I complete to document the completion date and location.

This was an excellent adventure for adults!

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