Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument – New Mexico

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Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument
New Mexico

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

Completed: May 6, 2017

Senior Ranger

Booklet: https://www.nps.gov/sapu/planyourvisit/upload/Senior-Ranger-Program-1.doc

During our Spring trip through central New Mexico I wanted to visit all three of the pueblos of Salinas Pueblo Missions NM to earn their Junior Ranger badge. I had printed a copy of their booklet before leaving home to make sure I had it when I started my visit, in case one of the visitor centers was closed. Our first stop was at Gran Quivira where I completed the Junior Ranger portion for that site. After visiting there we stopped at the park headquarters in Mountainair for their passport stamps. While talking to the staff and explaining that I was working on the Junior Ranger booklet I was handed their Senior Ranger Program booklet!

The three missions are miles apart and each site is distinct, well worth visiting each site. Salinas means salt and the missions are part of the Salt Missions Trail Scenic Byway. The sites promote the history of the prehistoric Ancestral Puebloan and Jumano groups, to the 17th century Spanish Franciscan missionaries, and the returning settlers of the 1800s.

The booklet is easy to complete, whether visiting one of the three sites, or all of them. As we had planned to visit all three on this trip, and I was also working on the Junior Ranger booklet, it was easy to complete both programs.

The activities are; Compare Historical Photos of Abo, Quarai and Gran Quivira, Plant & Tree Identification, Wildlife Found at Salinas Pueblo Missions, Pictographs & Petroglyphs, Four Churches at Salinas Pueblo Missions, National Park Service Word Search, and Salinas Pueblo Missions Word Search.
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Completing this program is very easy, the booklet states that you only need to complete one exercise at one of the three sites to earn their attractive park pin. While at Quivira we sat outside the visitor center and completed five of the activities. The wildlife page had photos take by game cameras of an owl, jackrabbit, rattlesnake, elk and coyotes. A series of questions were asked about which animal you would like to see while visiting and how you should deal with wildlife, if seen.

For Pictographs and Petroglyphs you draw an event in your life which can be represented by symbols. I had fun creating a series of symbols depicting my retirement from teaching and traveling.

Once we finished a ranger reviewed our booklets, and we had some good discussion about the activities. I always appreciated when park staff can spend extra time looking over my completed booklets. For their Senior Rangers they award their attractive park pin. I always try to leave a donation when completing either Junior or Senior Ranger programs, but I especially make sure I remember when they provide an extra special award.
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Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument – Colorado

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Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
Colorado

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

Completed: July 17, 2017

Booklet: https://www.nps.gov/flfo/learn/kidsyouth/upload/ffb_junior_ranger-pc.pdf

Less than an hour from Colorado Springs, along US 24, you will see amazing fossils in a beautiful setting. I love visiting this site and for the first time completed their Junior Ranger program during this last visit. Their collection of plant and animal fossils is amazing, both inside and outside. The hiking trails range from very short to longer through pine forests and open meadows at 8,100 feet elevation. During the summer, afternoon mountain thunderstorms will move in and the trails are closed for your safety.

This program is considered Senior Friendly as the upper age group is not set. The groupings and number of activities to complete are; 4-7 years – 3 pages, 8-10 years – 5 pages and 11 years and older – 7 pages. With 13 different activities, at a variety of skill levels, there are plenty of activities of interest for all of the age groups.

Activities include; Dot to Dot, Map Maker, BINGO!, Leaf Detective, Learning the Layers, Fly Maze, Email Friends, Be a Paleontologist, Influential Women, From the Ute Perspective, Take A Hike, No Ordinary Homesteader, and Pick Your Next Adventure!

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I enjoyed their BINGO format, 16 squares, with a short description of what to look for and space to draw what you saw, answer a question about the item or complete an activity. Questions were about the color of lichen, bark, type of fossil, and an animal home. Activities were hiking, attending a ranger program, having a picnic and visiting a historic site. Leaf Detective had you sketching a modern leaf and a fossil leaf from their collection in the visitor center and answering some questions about each one.

A couple of the activities, Learning the Layers and Be A Paleontologist, were based on displays in the visitor center. The display area is small, but packed with excellent information. Sometimes too much information is given and it is hard to stay focused, these displays are just right! A word search activity, Influential Women, provided great information about local women, as well as professional female paleontologists who strongly influenced this area. I appreciated that facts about the women were given and key words from the facts were used in the word search.

Behind the visitor center is a covered area with big fossilized tree stumps and picnic tables. After completing the hike and gathering information needed for his booklet I enjoyed sitting outside to put the finishing touches on this program. Once I did compete the booklet I took it back inside for a ranger to check it over. After that I was administered their Junior Ranger pledge and given the standard badge.

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Rainbow Bridge National Monument – Utah

 

Rainbow Bridge National Monument
Utah

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

Completed: May 18, 2016

Senior Friendly

*Booklet: https://www.nps.gov/rabr/learn/kidsyouth/upload/RABRJrRanger-2.pdf

In 2014 I visited Rainbow Bridge NM by boat. The ride up Lake Powell to the mouth of the canyon was enjoyable, it was late May and being on the water made it comfortable on a hot day. Once the boat turned into the canyon it felt like a maze of water and rock walls, at the dock it opens up a bit, but the natural bridge remained hidden. From the boat dock you hike to the bridge, currently about 1 mile, each way. In a short distance you can see the bridge, no pictures can describe the grandeur of this natural geologic feature. A hike of 16 -18 miles one way, across the Navajo Nation (permit required), is the only other way to reach the bridge. The boat tour begins at Wahweap Marina, a short distance from the Glen Canyon Dam and Page, AZ.

Prior to visiting Glen Canyon NRA in 2016, when I downloaded and printed their Junior Ranger booklet, I discovered that the last few pages included the program for Rainbow Bridge NM. While writing this post I discovered that the link listed above is a different booklet. It appears to be relatively simple, as the booklet I completed, but the activities are different. For either booklet you can complete the Junior Ranger program without visiting the bridge, however if you aren’t able to visit during your visit I hope in the future you can see this beautiful natural bridge.

The Rainbow Bridge program I completed, at the back of the Glen Canyon NRA booklet, has no age groupings and at least 2 activities are to be completed. The booklet linked above does have age groupings and someone 12 or older is to complete all five activities. Both booklet requirements allow this program to be considered Senior Friendly.

The activities in the booklet I completed are; Forming Rainbow Bridge, Rainbow Bridge National Monument (4 questions), and Rainbow Bridge Sign Scramble. Matching a description to four small pictures helps you understand how natural bridges are formed. The answers to the four questions in the activity titled Rainbow Bridge National Monument can be learned from a park ranger, tour guide or park brochure (available online). I enjoyed the Sign Scramble, it provided a fun way to learn more about the bridge.

Once I completed the booklet I took it to the Carl Hayden Visitor Center at Glen Canyon Dam, unfortunately the park rangers were in a training session, but the tour staff for the dam gave me the Junior Ranger badge. The bridge is featured on this enhanced badge.

*The booklet provided from this link is different from the one described in this post.

 

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area – Arizona & Utah

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Hanging Gardens

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Arizona & Utah

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

Completed: May 17, 2016

Senior Friendly

Booklet: https://www.nps.gov/glca/learn/kidsyouth/upload/GLCA-Jr-Ranger-2013.pdf

Most of us know Glen Canyon National Recreation Area as Lake Powell, straddling Arizona and Utah. Over the years I have visited many the of sites within their 1.25 million acres, but this is the first time I worked on the Junior Ranger Program. It was a great way to understand the diversity of the park. Besides having lots of water, there are also locations which feature wildlife, history, paleontology and archaeology.

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Lees Ferry

This program is considered Senior Friendly as there is no upper age limit. Three ages groupings with a minimum number of activities for each range is provided. The groupings are; ages 6 to 8 complete 3 activities, ages 9 to 11 complete 5 activities and ages 12 and up complete 7 activities.

Glen Canyon NRA activities include; The Best Way to Care for the Land, From Fast Swimming to Fossilized, Crossing the Mighty Colorado – in the 1800s, Crossing the Mighty Colorado – Today, Who Needs Water, Take an Artistic Break, The Amaze-ing Colorado River Watershed, One Glen Canyon, Many Voices, Desert Dwellers, Power and the River, Ancient Ones if Glen Canyon, Experience Your America! and Junior Ranger Participation Log.

In the middle of the booklet is the Junior Ranger Participation Log, something I have not seen very often in booklet, but a good idea to keep track of the different activities completed. My log included camping at Hite where we say Great Blue Herons roosting on the cliff across the river. Another activity was hiking through the Lees Ferry Historic District. I sketched the old boiler I saw for Take an Artistic Break activity. This is a great place to see birds and lizards.

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Desert Spiny Lizard

One Glen Canyon, Many Voices has you match 9 pictures of people you could find within the recreation area; boaters, dam workers, Native Americans, ranchers and park rangers are a few examples. The 9 different Desert Dwellers, a bingo-style activity, presents different adaptations that plants and animals use to thrive in this environment. As you see something that matches that adaptation you are to draw that plant or animal. For Big Ears I saw a Black-tailed Jackrabbit and drew the ears, for Thermoregulation I saw several lizards and did a quick sketch of a lizard.

A number of the activities were simple enough that the the younger age groups will be able to easily complete their minimum requirement. Overall the booklet had a good diversity of activities to help you appreciate this very large park site. I took the completed booklet to the Carl Hayden Visitor Center at the Glen Canyon Dam to be reviewed. The day I was there the park staff was at training, so the tour staff for the dam gave me my Junior Ranger badge. No review or pledge, this time.

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Pipe Spring National Monument – Arizona

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Winsor Castle

Pipe Spring National Monument
Arizona

https://www.nps.gov/pisp/index.htm

Completed: June 2017

Senior Friendly

Download: https://www.nps.gov/pisp/learn/kidsyouth/upload/Junior-Ranger2016-web.docx

Almost in my backyard, at least in Arizona, but 475 miles northwest and in an entirely different ecosystem. The ecological diversity of Arizona is what I enjoy the most about living here. The distance might be a reason why this took so long for me to complete. I have visited this site numerous times over the years and always enjoy the wildlife seen while touring the grounds and Winsor Castle. The building was completed by Europeans settlers in the 1800s, but the land was home to the Kaibab Paiute tribe long before their arrival.

Note: I didn’t realize that I had previously completed this program and wrote a post last year. The 2016 Centennial Year was a busy year for me!

This program is Senior Friendly as no age groupings are provided and the staff just expect anyone to complete at least five activities during their visit This allows you to complete the booklet without attending the tour of Winsor Castle, in case your travel plans don’t match with tour times.

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Plateau Fence Lizard

Activities include; Pipe Spring Scavenger Hunt (bingo format), Explore the Museum, Animal Tracks, Outside Tour, 1873 Supplies, Fort Tour, Match Present to Past, and Learning Paiute!

The Scavenger Hunt has 12 pictures of items, plants or animals you can see while exploring the monument. Lizards, ravens, and cottontail rabbits are plentiful in this environment and easy to mark off while exploring. I enjoyed the Explore the Museum because besides finding answers in the displays there were questions after each section which relate to your own experience. This allows you to think about the information and apply it based on your own experience. The displays also provide a good overview of the history; from the early Native American period through Mormon habitation and to today’s Paiutes living here.

With some careful observation I was able to find lizard tracks in the dirt alongside the paced path behind the Visitor Center. Again the Outside Tour had you find information, but also asked questions for you to think about and answer. Visiting the pens of livestock, especially seeing the longhorn cattle was fun. The Fort Tour was led by a ranger and was excellent. Besides getting inside Winsor Castle, the items on display give you a good idea of what it would have been to live here in the 1850s when the Mormon’s used this to supply themselves and others of their faith. Thanks to the springs there was readily available water, but this harsh environment on the Arizona Strip would have made daily life difficult.

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Say’s Phoebe

Before the Europeans arrived in the 1800s the Kaibab Paiute tribe had lived here for centuries. I appreciated the page which had you try to learn Paiute words, eventually having you write your own phrase with the words provided. The monument is currently surrounded by Kaibab-Paiute tribal lands. The nearby campground is administered by the tribe.

Once I completed the booklet I was sworn in by the staff at the entrance desk and given their enhanced Junior Ranger Badge which features the Winsor Castle.

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Junior Cave Scientist – multiple sites

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Dixon Cave at Mammoth Cave National Park

Junior Cave Scientist
Geologic Resources Division – multiple sites

https://www.nps.gov/subjects/caves/junior-cave-scientist-program.htm

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 (www.nature.nps.gov/geology/caves/index.cfm). 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.

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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.

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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.

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Big Thicket National Preserve – Texas

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Big Thicket National Preserve

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

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.
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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.
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Arizona Trail National Scenic Trail – BLM

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North Kaiba Trail – Grand Canyon National Park
http://www.aztrail.org/juniorexplorer

Completed: January 19, 2016

Senior Friendly

The Arizona Trail almost runs through my backyard in Tucson, about 10 miles to the east. I have hiked short sections throughout Arizona; the whole trail is over 800 miles and reaches from Mexico to Utah. Hikers, bicyclists and horseback riders are able to cover the entire distance either as a through-trip (taking a long time) or done in sections.
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The trail passes through private and public land; public lands managed by state and federal agencies. Some of the federal agencies are; Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, and Department of Interior. An important resource to enjoy the trail is the Arizona Trail Organization which can be reached at http://www.aztrail.org.

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This program has a a very attractive handbook with excellent graphics and detailed information about what you would see along the 800 mile route. I was fortunate to find this booklet at the REI store in Tucson, however the entire handbook can be completed online. The BLM (Bureau of Land Management) provided this Junior Explorer program. It is considered Senior Friendly as no age range is given. With the information provided in the reading the material in this booklet is advanced. With adult help younger children could answer the questions and earn the patch.
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Another unique part of this program is your answers are submitted online. Once you complete the handbook and submit the answers an attractive patch is mailed to you. I was surprised when my patch arrived within a week. I celebrated by hiking a 3-1/2 mile section, Marsh Station Road to Colossal Cave Mountain Park.
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But before I earned my patch I had to complete the booklet. The trail for this activity begins at the southern border, the border with Mexico and works north. The page titles are; Arizona-Sonora Borderlands, Following Water: from top to bottom, The Sky Islands, Biotic Communities: along the Arizona Trail, The Gila River, Tracking Felines: on the Arizona Trail, Mogollon Rim, Cream-Filled Cookie:Plate Tectonics, San Francisco Peaks, Anatomy: of a Volcano, The Grand Canyon, Build Your Own Trail:along the Arizona Trail, The Arizona Strip, Create A Sound Map:along the Arizona Trail, Share The Trail: with other trail users!, and More Places: to Play and Learn.

Not all of your answers will be submitted online, some drawing activities are included, as well as a demonstration of Plate Tectonics which you can eat after you are done! There are a couple of charts to complete and time spent listening outside to create a sound map. Only the online answers count towards earning the patch. I found answering all of the required questions nefoe I went online worked much better than The great part about this program is you can complete anywhere, without ever setting foot along the trail. I think if you did do this program without experiencing the trail itself, you would make it a priority to visit Arizona and enjoy some portion of the trail in the future.
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A Junior Explorer Oath on the back of the handbook provides a certificate for you to complete. And as mentioned before, your attractive patch will arrive shortly just by submitting your answers online.
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Montezuma Castle National Monument – Arizona

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Montezuma Castle National Monument
Arizona

http://www.nps.gov/moca

Completed: October 7, 2015

Senior Friendly

Online booklet
http://www.nps.gov/moca/learn/kidsyouth/upload/MOCA-6-Up-Web.pdf

Montezuma Castle National Monument includes two locations; the ruins, known as the castle, and a well, a few miles north. The castle is actually a set of ruins built by the Sinagua around 1400 CE (current era), it contained 45-50 rooms. This site was the first place to be named a National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. The well has ruins built into the walls of a sinkhole and a walking trail that connects to the year-round Beaver Creek. Over the years Montezuma Well has always been a favorite place to visit. It is not as popular as Montezuma Castle, but well worth a visit.

This Junior Ranger Activity Guide includes pages for both the castle and the well. It is considered Senior Friendly as there are three age groups; turtle symbol for 6-7 years old, sycamore leaf symbol for 8-9 years old, and macaw symbol for 10 years or older.

This booklet allows you to complete activities towards becoming a Junior Ranger at Montezuma Castle or Montezuma Well or both sites. The age symbols indicate which activities each group should complete. The activities include; Explore the Museum, Where would you build?, Getting Around, Knowing your Neighbors, Living at theWell, That’s a lot of water!, Nowhere Else on Earth, Surface Water: Swallet, Outlet, & Ditch, Sit, Look & Listen, Poetry Corner, and Share with a Park Ranger. . .
Montezuma Well
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The museum at the Visitor Center had the answers for the crossword puzzle titled Explore the Museum. I learned about the different Native American tribes that called this area home. I appreciated the information provided about using current terminology to identify timekeeping by archeologists. CE, Common Era, is now used in place of A.D. and BCE, Before Common Era, in place of B.C.

Math skills were needed to complete the Getting Around page, this activity had you calculate how long it would take you to walk to Phoenix from the Verde Valley. Based on my calculations it would take me at least 12 days to walk the 125 miles.

Once at Montezuma Well the activity Living at the Well has you collect dates at the different kinds of homes lived in over the years, then calculate how old is the oldest house at the well, almost 1000 years. Nowhere Else on Earth has you identify the unique plants and animals, in this case very small specimens.

For the Poetry Corner I wrote a cinquain-style poem about the well.
Well
Deep, Living
Breathe, Evaporate, Cool
Relaxing place to be
Sinkhole
Booklet & badges
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Before leaving the Montezuma Well I had the ranger on site review what I had done, he then presented me with a colorful button as their Junior Ranger badge. Back at Montezuma Castle the booklet was reviewed and the standard badge was presented. The inside back cover of the activity guide contains the Certificate of Achievement.
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Canyonlands National Park – Utah

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Canyonlands National Park

http://www.nps.gov/cany

Completed: September 24, 2015

This national park is very large and spread out over several districts. I visited Islands in the Sky and Needles Districts on this trip. While visiting Islands in the Sky area I picked up the Junior Ranger booklet to begin working on the activities. A couple of days later I had the booklet reviewed while visiting the Needles area.

This program is considered Senior Friendly as there are 3 ages groups and the oldest does not have an upper age limit. The groups are; Leapin’ Lizard ages 5-7, Rowdy Rabbit ages 8 – 10 and Bouncin’ Bighorn ages 11 and up.

To complete the program you are to complete the activities for the specified age group; at least 4 for the first age group, at least 5 for the middle age group and at least 6 for the upper age group, watch the the park video, attend a ranger program or pick up litter and have a ranger check the booklet.

Islands in the Sky
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The activities include; Ready, Set…Hike!, Where in the World, Canyonlands Crypto, Connect the Dots, Star Search, State of Erosion, Layering Logic, Protecting Our Park, Who Am I?, The Ancient Ones, Cowboy Maze, Park Poetry, Discovery Walk Bingo, Puzzling Plants Crossword, and Our National Parks.

Canyonlands Crypto helps you understand the importance of staying on trails to protect the unique and fragile soil in the SouthWest. By using a word back you fill in words in a paragraph that describes cryptobiotic soil. State of Erosion has you identify pictures of different types of landforms and use the park map to find names that match four landforms found in the park.

Ancient Puebloan Granary
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For Park Poetry you are to write a cinquain poem about something you saw in Canyonlands. This is a simple style of poem that does not have to rhyme, but describes a subject you chose. I wrote about the vistas, which are vast and beautiful. Discovery Walk Bingo is always a great way to keep you looking as you travel through the park. Instead of finding specific animals, plants or objects the squares ask you to write or draw ‘something’. Something – soft, prickly, beautiful, you smell and 12 other description.

The Puzzling Plants Crossword had a twist from other crossword puzzles, the words in the word bank were anagrams (letters mixed up). So besides figuring out the answer to the crossword statement you had to unscramble the letters. The statements gave good information about plants to this unique environment.

After spending a couple of days in the area I had a ranger check my booklet while visiting the Needles District. The ranger signed the Certificate of Completion in the back and the booklet and awarded me the badge.

Booklet & Badge
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