Fossil Butte National Monument – Wyoming


Fossil Butte National Monument

Senior Ranger

Completed: September 3, 2015

When I arrived at Fossil Butte National Monument I was pleased to find out that they have a Senior Ranger program, always what I prefer to complete. One booklet is used for both the Junior and Senior Ranger program, four age groups are listed. The age groups are; 5-7, 8-11, 12-15 and 16+. As a senior I completed the sections labeled for 16+.

The activities I completed included; Walk through Time, How Big Was Fossil Lake?, Reading the Rocks, Fossils, Fossils Everywhere!, What Is It?, Fossil Preparation, Fossil Collector Biography, A-mazing Fossilization, Species Past and Present, Leafy Thermometers and Rain Gauges, A Scene from Fossil Lake and The National Park Service Mission.

One of the hardest activities was ‘What Is It?’, trying to match the picture in the booklet to specimens in the visitor center took some time and detective skills. The activity of drawing seven specimens into a grid, representing layers in which the fossils would have been found was challenging. This took some concentration to get the correct size and orientation, according to the details given. My favorite activity was using line graphs to determine temperature and climate of this area based on leaf size and leaf edge smoothness. The results showed that the past climate was warmer and wetter.

As you approach the visitor center there is a ‘walking geologic timeline’ that begins in the parking lot and wraps all the way around the outside of the visitor center. The activity titled, Walk Through Time, is based on the information presented along the timeline. Your steps along the way are converted into millions of years, a good way to help you understand geologic time.


After camping in the area I returned the next day with the completed booklet. The volunteer at the desk reviewed the booklet and answered a couple of questions. Senior Rangers receive a very beautiful embroidered patch of a fossil fish.



2 thoughts on “Fossil Butte National Monument – Wyoming

  1. That is so awesome. My husband and I were in Yellowstone and the Tetons in May of 2012. We asked for a junior ranger program booklet and were told by the lady at one of the visitor centers in Yellowstone that this programs was for kids. So, we did not get to obtain a booklet. Last summer when we went to Mount Rushmore, I asked about the junior ranger program and was met with much encouragement. We find that when we participate in the program and complete the activities we learn so much more than when we were not able to. We have taken grandkids to the National Parks close to us and they love it.

    • Thanks for your comments. Hopefully on your next visit to Yellowstone you will be given the opportunity to complete their program. Since your visit in 2012 they are allowing individuals of all ages to earn their Junior Ranger. I did their program in 2013, with no resistance. In the 3 years I have been completing Junior and Senior Ranger programs only one site has not allowed me to participate. That site currently does allow all ages. Completing it on my own or along with my grandchildren has always been rewarding.

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