Russell Cave National Monument – Alabama

Russell Cave National Monument

Completed: September 30, 2017

Senior Friendly

Tucked up against a corner of Alabama and Tennessee is this cave which holds artifacts dating back 9,500 years. The short walk to the cave/overhang is along a boardwalk through the woods. I was fortunate to be the only person on the boardwalk, I was able to experience the woods along the route and the cave opening in silence.

It was a gorgeous Fall day when I visited Russell Cave and was glad I could spend the extra time to complete their Junior Ranger program. The booklet is well organized and easy to complete based on three age groups.

Raccoon for ages 5-7, to complete 2 pages,
Deer for ages 8-10, to complete the Ranger Basics page and 7 or more pages, and
Coyote for ages 11 and up, to complete the Ranger Basics page and 8 or more pages.
This activity is considered Senior Friendly as there is no upper age given.

The twelve activities include; Ranger Basics, The Story of Russell Cave National Monument, At the Movies, Russell Cave Geology, Russell Cave Museum, Prehistoric Puzzle, Russell Cave Word Search, The Cave, Bird Watching, Tools and Weapons, Flora and Fauna of Russell Cave and Parts of a Tree.

A portion of the booklet can be completed by viewing the displays in the museum, working on your own and by visiting the cave. I enjoyed The Cave section the most, it provided good background about the initial excavation in the 1950s. Additionally the activity does a great job of taking you through the four major periods the cave was occupied; Paleo-Indians, Archaic, Woodland and Mississippian Periods.

After spending time in the museum, walking to the cave and while eating lunch in front of the visitor center I worked on the Word Search, as well as the nature pages; Bird Watching, Flora and Fauna and Parts of the Tree. I appreciated that the Word Search went beyond just finding the words, they are used to complete sentences about this park unit.

The ranger on duty when I returned to the visitor center with my completed Junior Ranger booklet was delightful. Ranger Mary reviewed my booklet and we discussed several topics before she presented me with their attractive certificate and unique enhanced metal badge. This was my second visit, but the most enjoyable because of the what I learned and the time I spent working on their Junior Ranger program.

Little River Canyon National Preserve – Alabama

Little River Canyon National Preserve index.htm

Completed: September 30, 2017

Senior Friendly

Along the eastern edge of Alabama this is a little known unit of the National Park Service (NPS). As a preserve it can include a few recreational activities not usually allowed in NPS sites. Besides hiking and climbing, some of the activities allowed are fishing and hunting. This was my second visit and on both visits I was able to enjoy the natural beauty with very few other visitors. There are hiking trails, as well as scenic drives to explore. This park also honors those Native Americans which endured the Trail of Tears.

This program is Senior Friendly, no age limits are given. The booklet indicates to complete as many activities as possible to earn the badge. During this visit I was able to complete all of the activities.

Activities include; Where Are you From?, What Should You Bring?, People in the Preserve, Junior Ranger Safety Scrambler, What is a Cultural or Natural Resource?, Everything Needs a Home, Invader!, Woods Walk, Little River Footprints, Wildlife Around You, Pitcher Plant Maze, Where does the Water Go?, Mushroom Rock, Crossword Puzzle, Little River Fossils, Plants of Little River Canyon, Wildlife Scavenger Hunt, and National Park Service Emblem.

Identifying the difference between Cultural and Natural Resources involved looking at pictures of plants, a arrowhead and a house from 1910. Everything Needs Home was a drawing activity to show the same needs of a human’s habitat and that of an animal. I drew a picture of the van in which we travel – my home, away from home. The activities were interesting and provided good variety. The booklet had great photos and graphics which added to the experience.

I picked up the booklet late in the day, explored a bit before heading over to DeSoto State Park ( This park is close by in a beautiful canyon and has camping, a lodge and restaurant. The campground with amenities; electric hook ups, showers and large sites are excellent. We have also eaten at the lodge restaurant, enjoyed the breakfast buffet. The following morning I returned to the visitor center and had my booklet reviewed. The volunteer on duty provided the oath,certificate and badge and a picture!