Aztec Ruins National Monument – New Mexico


Aztec Ruins National Monument
New Mexico

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

Completed: October 9, 2017

Not So Junior Ranger/Senior Ranger

Tucked behind the Animas River, near downtown Aztec, the ruins take you back in time, back 900 years! The Pueblo Great House had 400 rooms, many you can walk through on the self-guiding tour. This is a great walking tour, I had to crouch down to get through several doorways. The large kiva, spiritual center, has been restored so that you can walk down into the center. The overall area is small, but what you can experience is big!

Aztec Ruins offers a number of Junior Ranger programs for different age groups and this senior ranger program. And even better, you can earn a patch at home! Following the link below you can complete the activities online to earn their patch.
https://www.nps.gov/features/azru/

The ‘booklet’ for the Not So Junior Ranger is a four-fold flyer with seven panels to complete. The only downside of the flyer is the slick paper, difficult on which to write or draw. The panels headings are; In the Museum; Artisans and Descendants, On the Trail; Keep it Standing and Roots on the Landscape, Get Involves, In the Visitor Center:Historic Trivia and Heritage Adventure around the World.

The activities are a nice blend of visitor center information, exploring the ruins and expressing your opinion or thoughts. Sometimes it took some detective work to find the information which made the hunt fun. Matching pottery images to the type of pottery was the easiest, with finding the viga (beam) labeled H48 in the visitor center the most challenging.

When asked what was the best part of my experience at Aztec Ruins National Monument I wrote about watching a Dark-eyed Junco bird fly in and out of an opening in the ruins. Seeing an animal, which may have been present when the ruins were occupied, brought the ruins alive for me.

It was a busy day, over the Columbus Day weekend, but the ranger on duty spent time reviewing and discussing my completed pamphlet. Having a senior option available is greatly appreciated, and the slightly larger wooden Not So Junior badge is a nice reward.

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Ocmulgee National Monument – Georgia

Ocmulgee National Monument
Georgia

Completed: September 28, 2017

http://www.nps.gov/ocmu/index.html

Senior Friendly

A small unit in central Georgia, near Macon, has human history dating back 17,000 years. That is impressive and well worth exploring the displays in the visitor center, as well as the earthen mounds outside. Even at this late date in September it was hot, well into the 90s, plus humidity, which made exploring too uncomfortable for me. Most of my time was spent in the visitor center, then drove the short road to look at the mounds

This program is considered Senior Friendly as no upper age is given. Most of the booklet can completed in the comfort of the visitor center. There are 12 activities included in the booklet, I always appreciate when, as a Senior Ranger, I don’t have to complete all of the activities. It is always nice to have a choice!
Up to 6 years old- 4 activities
7 – 9 years old – 7 activities
10 years or older- 10 activities

Activities include; Draw a Picture, Discover!, Digging into the Past, Pottery Drawing, Home Sweet Home, Word Search, Earth Lodge, Multiple Choice, Great Temple Mound, Fill in the Blank, The Park Around Us, and True or False.

Archaeology is the main focus of this park site which is also highlighted throughout the Junior Ranger booklet. Digging into the Past provided a stratigraphy diagram which was used to answer questions about the age of labeled artifacts. Home Sweet Home showed 4 pictures of different styles of homes that were used at Ocmulgee, the styles evolved from sticks and a grass roof up to a more traditional home.

The staff was very friendly and helpful while reviewing my booklet. I always appreciate when a ranger takes the time to check my answers and initiate a discussion about the activities. Besides receiving a unique badge, I was also given a colorful patch. The badge is unique (see below) because the strip across the top which usually names the park says “All Things Are Connected”, I love that saying as I think it is what the National Park Service represents.

Obed Wild and Scenic River- Tennessee

Obed Wild and Scenic River
Tennessee

http://www.nps.gov/obed/index.html

Completed: September 25, 2017

Senior Friendly

In Eastern Tennessee, north of I-40 and west of Oak Ridge, is small but beautiful park site that features free-flowing river. I have visited this site several times, at different times of the year, the Fall is the best. If you are fortunate to be there when the leaves are changing colors it is a treat. Besides hiking and rock climbing, the best way to experience the Obed River is on it – by canoe or kayak. I haven’t been able to do that yet, hopefully someday.

This program is considered Senior Friendly as no upper age limit is given.
Ages 5-6, complete at least five activities with Obediah the Owl icon.
Ages 7-8, complete at least seven activities with Obediah the Owl icon.
Ages 9 and up, complete all of the activities (14).

Activities include; Can You Canoe the Obed River?, Activity-Animal Tracks, Fish Identification, Obed Wild and Scenic River Word Search, Connect the dots to see WHOOOO this is?, Visit Lilly Bluff Overlook, Lily Bluff Scavenger Hunt, When you visit the Obed.., A-MAZE-ing, Help Keep Obed Clean, Safety First!, Picture This!, Obed’s Rich History, and Find it on the Obed Map.

My favorite experience was visiting Lilly Bluff Overlook (pictured above) to enjoy the view. A short walk from the parking area leads you past several interpretive signs describing the geography and geology of the area. The page for Obed’s Rich History provides an overview of the variety of people who have lived here, from Prehistoric Indians to European settlers in the 1700s.

I brought my finished booklet to the visitor center in the small town of Wartburg. The ranger reviewed my booklet and provided their enhanced Junior Ranger badge. As an avid craft beer consumer I couldn’t pass up purchasing their pint glass!

Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area – Washington

Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area – Washington

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

Completed: July 7, 2017

In central Washington, Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area (NRA) provides water recreation, camping and history. The lake was created from the Grand Coulee Dam along the Columbia River in the 1940s, encompassing a 130 mile long recreation area administered by the NPS. While visiting I picked up their Junior Ranger newspaper.

If seven or younger three activies are to be completed, if older then all six activities are to be completed. In addition everyone is to attend one ranger-guided activity (if available) and hike one of the trails described. The program is Senior Friendly with no upper age limit given.

The activities include; Messages in Stone, The Artifact Jungle, Fort Colville Word Scramble, Fort Spokane Indian Boarding School Word Search, Fort Spokane Military Mega-Mazes, and What About the Future? Three trails described are scattered throughout the park site; Mission Point Trail near Kettle Falls Campground, Sentinel Trail at Fort Spokane and Bunchgrass Prairie Nature Trail at Spring Canyon Campground. While completing any of the hikes, a Junior Ranger Notebook has you record plants, animals, habitat and other details seen and heard along the hike.

While visiting I camped at both Spring Canyon and Kettle FallsCampground. It was very hot, reaching over 100 degrees during the daytime, but cooled off nicely at night. At Spring Canyon some of the sites have covered awnings to block the sun and groomed, green grass. It was too hot to hike the nearby nature trail. On our way north we stopped at Fort Spokane, a historic site which was also used as a school in the early 1900s. The grounds have an interesting self-guided walk to explore the historic buildings.

Our final stop was at Kettle Falls Campground, right along a narrower section of the Columbia River, as it heads south from Canada. It had been very hot all day, I was glad when the evening cooled off for comfortable sleeping. In the cooler morning I enjoyed hiking along the river. A few flowers, mainly Sego Lillies, were in bloom along the trail, which I noted in the Junior Ranger Notebook section.

As I traveled around the NRA I completed the six different activities, all provided interesting information. The Artifact Jumble was my favorite, as it helped to show the long history of many different people who inhabited the upper Columbia River. In my drawing for What About the Future? I drew a free-flowing river, wishful thinking, but my hope for the future in 100 years. In the Kettle Falls area there were no visitor services staffed by park rangers so I mailed the completed paper to the address indicated on the back section. In the return mail I received the ranger-signed Junior Ranger paper, an attractive patch and a geology-specific booklet, which nicely explains the unique geology of the area. This is a lesser known park site, but one that has more than just a lake to visit, it has a rich human and geologic history, well worth the time to visit and explore.

 

Little River Canyon National Preserve – Alabama


Little River Canyon National Preserve

http://www.nps.gov/liri/ 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 (alapark.com/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!

Centennial Junior Ranger Activity Book, 1916 – 2016

National Park Service

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

Completed: April 8, 2016

2016 was a big travel year for me, by the end of the year I was fortunate to have visited 220 of the 413 National Park Service sites. With the NPS celebrating their Centennial, 100 years, we wanted to celebrate with them. Most I had visited previously, several were first time visits, and every visit brought a special memory. I was thrilled when I learned that a special Junior Ranger Activity Book was available. Looking back at the booklet I completed activities at a number of parks, finally finishing it at El Malpais National Monument in New Mexico.

The thirteen activities include; National Park Service Symbols, Jammin’ Journal, Become a Modern Day John Muir!, Draw & Name Your Park, Past and Present Native Cultures, Write a Cinquain Poem, National Park Crossword, My Space – Your Space, Write Yourself into National Park Service History, Healthy Parks, Healthy You, Rappin’ with a Ranger, The President is Calling You, and Protecting Special Places.

The inside front cover was not an activity, but asked a couple of questions about birthdays and the centennial. One of the questions was to identify how a park you visited was celebrating the centennial. Five of the parks in southeastern Arizona offered a “I Hike for Health” pins during this year. I was able to earn all five pins, including one at Coronado National Memorial by hiking to the US/Mexico border at the beginning of the Arizona National Scenic Trail.

Coronado National Memorial -Arizona

Instead of recounting the activities I will share some memories and pictures from my travels during 2016. Living in Arizona we have access to some wonderful desert parks which we could enjoy during the winter months. Organ Pipe Cactus NM, Joshua Tree NP and Death Valley NP are sites we have visited many times over the years, and the flowers in 2016 were gorgeous.

Organ Pipe Cactus NM – Arizona

Joshua Tree NP -California

Death Valley NP – California

In Colorado there is a wide variety of park sites, from Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP and Great Sand Dunes NP. Both unique and beautiful at any time of the day.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP – Colorado

Great Sand Dunes NP – Colorado


Working back East we spent time at Alley Spring & Mill in Ozark National Scenic Riverway, a built area with gushing water and historic buildings. Of course the one of highlights was attending our annual National Park Travelers Club (NPTC) meeting in Philadelphia at Independence National Historical Park, especially seeing the Liberty Bell. While touring Washington DC I visited the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality NM where many legislative victories were pursued within sight of the US Capitol, the architecture was stunning.

Alley Spring & Mill – Ozark National Scenic Riverway – Missour

Independence National Historical Park – Pennsylvania


Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality NM – Washington, DC


Working our way West came back through Northern New Mexico and celebrated with Capulin Volcano NM -their window was one of many special events and signs we saw throughout the year. As active members of the NPTC we collect the NPS passport stamps that the sites offer, in 2016 the sites had a special stamp for the Centennial. It definitely made the year extra special as we criss-crossed the country visiting the parks and working on the special Junior Ranger booklet. The good news is you did not have to travel as we did, the booklet could be done at home or at one site to earn the wooden Junior Ranger badge. For those who did not know about this program during the centennial year, it may still be available. Check with any NPS site or online.

https://www.nps.gov/kids/pdf/centennial-jrrangerbooklet.pdf

Fort Union National Monument – New Mexico

Fort Union National Monument
New Mexico

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

Completed: July 20, 2017

Senior Friendly

Download: https://www.nps.gov/foun/learn/kidsyouth/upload/FOUNJr-RangerBooklet-2.pdf

Located in Northern New Mexico, just off I-25 the ruins of this fort transport you back in time. The walking tour of the grounds allow you to get a good feel of what it might have felt like to be here in the 1800s. Wear your walking shoes and Get Outside! As a place I have visited numerous times over the years I found this visit to be the most enjoyable because of what I learned and experienced completing their Junior Ranger program.

This Junior Ranger program is Senior Friendly as there is no upper age range. The age groupings and required number of activities to complete are;

The activities are; Only A Few Have This Sort of View, Fort Union Timeline, Fort Scavenger Hunt, What Is It?, ?Como Se Dice?, The Santa Fe Trail, Trail Listeners, Weather Wonders, Compass Connection and In Your Own Words. The first activity, Only A Few Have This View, shows the diversity of this stark landscape which includes mountains, a volcanic field, and earthworks.

Walking the fort grounds and answering the questions took some time and detective work, it also makes you realize this was like a small city. What I found amazing was the elevation marker was so accurate, it was recorded in 1867. What Is It was a fun activity using macro photos with a short description, then scrambled letters for you to unscramble to get the answer. Plus they leave a square for you to create and draw your own item, I attempted to draw a meadowlark (klraaodwem).

All of the activities were enjoyable and meaningful. While walking around the fort I enjoyed watching, and then talking to a Restoration Worker who was working on one of the many walls that they have to restore and maintain. He told me about some of the materials they use for the process, which I recounted in the last activity – In Your Own Words.

The young ranger on duty was enthusiastic and appreciative of this Senior Ranger completing the program. Once the booklet was reviewed I was administered the oath and received the standard Junior Ranger badge.

Ebey’s Landing National Historic Preserve – Washington

Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve
Washington

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

Completed: June 28, 2017

https://www.nps.gov/ebla/learn/kidsyouth/upload/2017-On-line-Jr-Ranger-Book.pdf

Senior Friendly

What is a National Historical Reserve? Basically, it is a living, working community primarily on private land with significant historical sites preserved and interpreted by a combination of private and public organizations. Ebey’s Landing NHR is located on Whidbey Island, west of downtown Seattle. Lighthouses, docks, farm fields, prairies, salt marshes, Native American artifacts, abundant wildlife and plants, and 19th century buildings provide the visitor with a diverse environment to explore.

This program is Senior Friendly as there is no upper age grouping. The age groupings and the number of required activities are; ages 10 and under complete 7 activities and ages 10 or older complete 14 activities.

The activities are; Nature Bingo, Getting to Know This Place, The Making of a Reserve, Word Search & Glossary, Then and Now, Hunt for Skagit Village Names, Coupeville’s Front Street, Admiralty Lighthouse, Coastal Salish People, What Helped Make the Prairies?, Hedgerows, Habitats within the Reserve, The Race for Empire in the Pacific Northwest, The Settlers Arrive, What Vegetables Do You Eat?, Growing Food On the Prairies, Letter to a Friend, Getting around Whidbey Island, and Alexander Blockhouse.

Learning about the race between Spain and England to claim this land is evident in the place names found in the area; from Rosario Strait to Penn Cove show their respective country’s influence in the late 1700s. Understanding that glaciers scoured this land to created the prairies, you can hike through today, is explained in What Helped Make the Prairies?”.

I really enjoyed exploring Coupeville’s Front Street to find historic buildings with plaques which indicate the year the building was built. This buildings along the street today are charming with a variety of businesses; restaurants, gift shops, bookstore, fiber store, and art galleries.

Once you complete the booklet you can take it to three different locations; Ebey’s Reserve Trust Board Office, Island County Historical Museum or the Central Whidbey Chamber of Commerce. I took my booklet to the Reserve office where a staff member reviewed my booklet and presented me with an attractive patch and enhanced Junior Ranger badge. The badge features the geographic features highlighted on this preserve; water, coastline, bluffs, prairies and forest.

Olympic National Park – Washington

Olympic National Park
Washington

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

Completed: June 25, 2017

Senior Friendly

This summer we visited several sections of the park, spending most of our time camping along Kalaloch Beach. Olympic has something for everyone – ocean, rivers, lakes, rainforest and mountains. No matter where you roam in this park there is plenty to see and do. Completing the Junior Ranger activities is easy with so much variety to explore.

Age groupings are Ages 5 to 7, complete five activities and Ages 8 and above, complete seven of the nine activities, plus all ages are to attend a ranger program, walk a trail and interview a ranger. Activities are; Where are your national parks?, Nature Hike Bingo, Tree of Life, Fishing for Home, Get Connected!, Seashore Detective, What’s for dinner?, Help a Ranger and Park Poet.

While camped at Kalaloch Beach I attended an evening ranger talk about Destruction Island, just off the coast. The first recorded shipwreck was in 1808, a lighthouse was built in the late 1800s and today it part of the Quillayute Needles National Wildlife Refuge. My hike activity was along the beach, enjoying tide pools and observing a juvenile and adult Bald Eagle.

For the activities in the booklet I enjoyed the Nature Hike Bingo. Besides looking for a variety of natural features I drew several of them, not an artist, but a skill I keep practicing. For Get Connected, which has you identify things you; saw, heard, smelled and touched, while exploring the park I sketched the juvenile Bald Eagle I saw perched on the top of a tall pine tree along the coast. My outline of the trees and perching tree look much better than the bird.

What’s For Dinner features the complex web of the plants and animals in the park, basically having you match a large variety of plants and based on what they eat. Orca whales eat Salmon, Starfish eat Mussels, a woodpecker eat ants, and so on. For the final activity I wrote a cinquain-style poem linking the forest and trees.

 

By the time I attended the evening ranger talk I had completed all of the activities for this program. After the program, Ranger Bethany reviewed my booklet, discussed some of work with me and awarded me the enhanced badge, featuring the Elk found in the park. This is a park that I will return to, there is so much to experience in a variety a ecosystems – Truly, something for everyone!

Walnut Canyon National Monument – Arizona

Walnut Canyon National Monument
Arizona

http://www.nps.gov/waca/imdex.htm

Completed: August 25, 2017

Senior Friendly

I actually completed this program in 2013 with my grandson, but misplaced the booklet and badge. I cherish the time I spent working on this with him, but wanted to have a replacement booklet and badge for this blog, so I worked on it while on my way to and from the Grand Canyon National Park this summer.

This park has ruins from 1300 CE when the Sinagua people inhabited the area. What makes these ruins unique is the ‘island’ of rock which the ruins are scattered along and many are accessible or at least easily seen from a one-mile trail which encircles the island. As this park sits at 7,000 feet and you have to walk down 185 vertical feet on stone stairs you need to carry water and be in good health. Not all of the ruins can be seen along the trail. The picture above shows some below the trail, these could be seen from a trail along the rim from the visitor center.

Three age groupings and their icon: Ages 7 and under – Horned Lizard, Ages 8 to 11 – Squirrel and Ages 12 and up – Raven. Each group is to complete the activities matching the icon showing on each page, with each group having three activities to complete.

Activities are; Trekking In and Out of the Canyon, Plant Hunter, Canyon Puzzler, A-MAZE-ing Trails, SENSE-ational Walnut Canyon, To Protect and Preserve, Park Rangers at Work, Where in the Canyon, Identify a Tree, Respect to Protect and Notes from the Edge. The last two activities are for all ages. The Raven activities are; Canyon Puzzler, To Protect and Preserve and Identify a Tree.

I always enjoy completing a crossword puzzle based on the park, much more than a word search. I always learn something from the clues. To Protect and Preserve was interesting, using a word bank, blanks are filled in to reconstruct the proclamation that established Walnut Canyon National Monument by President Woodrow Wilson in 1915. Wow, this site was established a year before the National Park Service was created from the Department of the Interior.

Identify a Tree is a great resource, besides helping me identify a Ponderosa Pine while visiting, it will help to identify other trees in the future. It uses a method of yes and no questions which create a key leading to six different trees found in this area, and throughout Arizona and the Southwest.

Ruin on rim

On the day I picked up the booklet a ceremony had just finished dedicating a plaque honoring Stephen Tyng Mather, considered the founder of the National Park Service. Not every site has a plaque, many were placed in the 1930s, again in the 1960s. The NPS Centennial in 2016 renewed interest in placing these plaques at more parks. Through private donations this plaque was installed on August 25, 2017. We missed the dedication, but enjoyed some cake. A few days later I returned with my booklet completed and received their beautiful wooden badge. This wooden badge is sturdier than other wooden badges I have received, probably not walnut, though.