Cabrillo National Monument – California

Cabrillo National Monument

Completed: December 8, 2018

Across from downtown San Diego, up on a hill, sits Cabrillo National Monument which interprets the early exploration of the New World. It also provides information about the native Kumeyaay people who were living there when Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed into the bay in 1542. There is a lot of history in a small area with spectacular views, all around. A visit to Cabrillo National Monument is worth the scenery, alone!
Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo statue

The activities for this Junior Ranger program are printed as a four-page newspaper titled, “Just for Kids”. The age-related chart below ends at Grade 8 which keeps this from receiving the Senior Friendly label, however this senior was able to complete the program. The ranger giving me the paper and the ranger who reviewed my completed paper were both encouraging and had no problem with an ‘older’ junior ranger participating.

Lighthouse stairs
The eight activity sections are titled; Inside the Visitor Center and Auditorium, The Exhibit Room, The Patio and Statute, Old Point Loma Lighthouse, Assistant Keeper’s Quarters, Kelp Forest and Whale Overlook, Coastal Sage Scrub:Native Plants, and Military History Exhibit. It was a beautiful day to explore outside the visitor center. I thoroughly enjoyed taking a tour around the grounds to find the information needed to complete the program.

The view from the Kelp Forest and Whale Overlook was gorgeous. I was a few weeks too early to see the whales migrating south, past Cabrillo. The interpretative signs throughout the grounds give great information about early explorers, native Americans, local botany and military history. Plan on taking your time as you wander from place to place to complete the activities.

Once completed I returned to the visitor center to have my answers checked by the ranger on duty. I appreciated the time spent reviewing and discussing my answers. The certificate for completing the program is on the back of the newspaper with a space for your signature and the park’s dated passport stamp. The badge given is an enhanced wooden badge showing a Spanish ship.

Devils Postpile National Monument – California

Devils Postpile National Monument

Completed: May 26, 2014

Senior Friendly

Love this site! Geology rocks, and so does geometry. This wonderful park site is only open in the summer, sometimes not until July! Check their website or call before you visit. Getting to the site is by shuttle bus from the ski area in Mammoth Lakes, unless you have a campground reservation down in the valley. Once there enjoy this unique geologic feature, make sure to hike to the top of the postpile.

This site is considered Senior Friendly as there is no upper age limit. If you are over 10 years of age then you are to complete at least 10 of the 12 activities. The activities are; The Prepared Hiker, Attend A Program / Interview A Ranger, Geology Rocks, Trace Your Trail, National Parks are Everywhere, Using Your Senses, The National Park Service, Scavenger Hunt, Devils Postpile: Fire & Ice, The Scenic San Joaquin, The Rainbow Fire, and Leave No Trace.

By far my favorite activity was Geology Rocks, as previously I had looked at the wall of rock at ground level. This activity had you draw the structures seen from ground level and then from on top. Seeing the geometric shapes on top which form the columns was great. While up there you can also complete the activity, Devils Postpile: Fire & Ice by recording the shapes of at least 10 columns, I found; 2 square, 3 pentagon and 5 hexagon-shaped columns.

The Scavenger Hunt had six items to discover and draw which is always a challenge for me, but good practice. Using Your Senses was another drawing activity. I spent some time drawing the Summer Tanager I saw while hiking in the area. Even though it involved a Word Search I learned something surprising about this area, the river in the valley is the San Joaquin River. This is a river I have seen on the west side of the Sierras, so I was surprised that its headwaters were in a valley on the east side. Goes to prove, you can always learn something new when completing a Junior Ranger program.


The very best part of this visit was having my booklet reviewed by Ranged Elsa. We both recognized each other, it took a few moments to remember where we had previously met. The Fall before she had been the ranger in Yosemite who had awarded my grandson and I our Junior Ranger badges. I received a very attractive patch, in the shape of a hexagon, of course.

Downloadable copy:

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.


Devil’s Postpile National Monument- California

Completed: May 26, 2014
Devil’s Postpile

Junior Ranger – Senior Friendly

Devil’s Postpile National Monument Ranger Station is only open during the summer months, and luckily it was open this Memorial Day weekend. During that time you take a shuttle from the Mammoth Mountain ski area to the canyon which has hiking, Red’s Resort, as well as the monument. The road is steep and very narrow, the $7 adult shuttle ticket is well worth the cost.

As the shuttle arrived a ranger was there to meet the crowd and give out brochures and Junior Ranger booklets. We both recognized each other, Ranger Elsa was the ranger who gave a nature walk last September whenI was in Yosemite. My grandson and I did our Junior Ranger badges together. She was excellent with the kids.

This program is considered Senior friendly as it indicates it you are over 10 years of age you should complete 10 activities. There was a total of 12 activities. I spent about 3 hours completing the 12 activities. A younger child could easily complete their activities in less than an hour. If you do not complete it before leaving the bottom, the multi-agency visitor center in town has the patches.

Working on the booklet

In order to complete several of the activities you need to walk the 0.4 mile up the trail to the unique rock formation for which the monument is named, additionally you need to walk up to the top to make several observations and drawings.

Ranger Station

The Rainbow Fire maze was one of the more difficult mazes I have had to complete. Besides working the maze you had to identify animals that return to an area after a fire, based on the type of plants as they return.

The Scavenger Hunt had you draw in several items you can find along the trail, as well as something for your to add. Again I enjoy the drawing activities. Overall I enjoyed the activities and the time spent at this national monument. The river, views of the Sierras and the unique geology come together to make a most enjoyable experience.

Junior Ranger pledge

Booklet & patch