City of Rocks National Preserve – Idaho

City of Rocks National Reserve
Idaho

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

Junior Ranger – Senior Friendly

Completed: April 14, 2020

After six visits from 1998 through October 2019 to City of Rocks National Preserve, I finally finished their Junior Ranger booklet in April 2020, while staying home during the covid-19 pandemic. While organizing my junior ranger files I found the almost completed booklet. Luckily anything I needed to do while onsite I had completed, I just needed to finalize a few pages.

This park site is in the southern section of Idaho and is managed in conjunction with Idaho State Parks and Recreation. On previous visits we have camped within the preserve at NPS campgrounds and state park campgrounds. The beauty of this park can be experienced by camping or just on a day trip. I love the rocks; the variety of shapes, composition and groupings. The Native American history, as well as the California Trail route adds to the visit.

The program is considered Senior Friendly as the booklet is designed for ages 10 & up. There are thirteen activities, and seven are to be completed to earn the Junior Ranger badge. I completed ten activities, and partially did a couple of others. There is a nice mix between geology, natural features, history, map skills and art activities.

Rocky Scavenger Hunt provided excellent background on nine different geologic properties found in the preserve and an activity to match pictures to the terms. Matching animal characteristics, as well as animal tracts were done in the Who Am I? and Name that Track activity. The Map Search page made me realize there is more for me explore on my next trip to City of Rocks Preserve.

After contacting the staff by email I was told to take photos of my completed pages and email them to a designated ranger. I received positive feedback about my work and within a week I received their attractive wooden, enhanced badge.

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve – Kansas

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
Nebraska

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

Junior Ranger – Senior Friendly

Completed: June 22, 2019

Each revisit to this site brings more places to explore, and this late June day had perfect weather to again enjoy Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. The Junior Ranger booklet was a great way to learn more about this park site. This is an unique site, it is co-managed by the National Park Service and The Nature Conservancy. It was established in 1996 to highlight a tallgrass prairie ecosystem on the Spring Hill Ranch. Once you leave the modern visitor center you can explore the ranch on your own or with scheduled tours.

This program is considered Senior Friendly as there are no age requirements listed in the booklet. The only requirement to earn the badge was to complete five activities. As the booklet has 18 possible activities, this makes completing the program easy. I always appreciate having choices and this booklet gives lots of options, it was easy to find 5 and more interesting activities.

I completed more than five activities, but spent most of my time completing Activity 11: Historic Spring Hill Ranch Buildings. While touring the grounds there are interpretive signs which provide the information needed to complete a series of questions. Badger, the park horse mascot, was out and about and curious as we walked past the barnyard.

As my husband is a retired paleontologist I used his expertise to complete Activity 8: Fossils, Geology, and Rock Fences. After examining the many limestone blocks which make up the ranch buildings I drew pictures of fossils we discovered.

A variety of topics; American Indian Culture, Plants and Grasses, Lower Fox Creek School #14, Get to Know the Preserve (5 Senses), as well as a short essay and drawing a picture, provides lots of way to explore and learn about this site. Once I finished my booklet I returned to the visitor center. Ranger Mary reviewed my booklet, administered the pledge and presented me with a standard Junior Ranger badge. A great place to spend a summer afternoon.

Click to access TPNP-Junior-Ranger-Guide-2019.pdf

Scotts Bluff National Monument – Nebraska


Scotts Bluff National Monument
Nebraska

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

Completed:June 25, 2019

The best experiences are unplanned. As we were driving towards Scotts Bluff National Monument I saw on my Instagram feed that a fellow Senior/Junior Ranger, and one I had not met in person, was also on his way to Scotts Bluff NM. I made contact with @cliftonwanders, Patrick, and agreed to meet in the picnic area. Once we met we headed off to the visitor center to pick up our Junior Ranger booklets.

The visitor center was closed for renovation, a temporary trailer was onsite for passport stamps, gift shop and ranger contact. We learned that we only needed to hike a trail at Bluff Summit and answer questions related to the trails we hiked.


We drove up to the top and walked the South and North Overlook Trails. Seems like we backtracked a bit to find the places that would yield the answers to the questions posed in the booklet. I think our non-stop talking about our travels and common interests may have interfered with a more organized path. Overall it was a great experience, so fun to share a park experience with another fanatic!

Not rated as Junior Ranger, Senior Friendly as the booklet indicates the program is designed for ages 6 through 12. However, the staff was welcoming for these junior/seniors to complete the program. The requirements may be different depending on access to the visitor center. Upon return to the visitor center the ranger on duty administered the oath and issued us the wooden badge which highlighted the 100th anniversary of this site.

Photo Credits: @cliftonwanders, except for booklet. Thank you for commemorating this visit!

Colorado National Monument – Colorado

Colorado National Monument
Colorado

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

Junior Ranger – Senior Friendly

Completed: June 30, 2019

A great place to explore, by car or foot. This site may not be on everyone’s list to visit, I would move it up and make sure to visit next time you are in the area. One thing we have realized over the past few years is Grand Junction, CO is close to Moab, UT which has better known park sites. The access to camping and lower cost lodging is much better in Grand Junction, and only a 2 hour drive away. During the busiest season rooms and campsites may not be available or too expensive in Moab, consider staying in Grand Junction and enjoying Colorado National Monument while in the area.


When I visited we were traveling through the park from West to East, with a stop at the visitor center near the beginning of the visit. When I picked up the booklet I asked if I could mail in the completed booklet after our visit, I was told that was acceptable. When planning to visit you can also print out a booklet in advance, the current link is listed below.

This program is considered Senior Friendly, the oldest age category is listed as Over 10. Other age groupings are 7 & under and 8-10 years old. For the older crowd at least 7 activities with eleven possible are to be completed. Besides completing the activities in the booklet you are expected to take a hike or attend a ranger program.

I took a delightful, short hike from the visitor center on a hot day along the Alcove Trail. I spent time photographing the view, tiny flowers, cryptobiotic soil, a lizard and a prehistoric-looking crane fly. A short trail, which allowed me to focus on the views and critters along the way.

Activities in the book included;
Explore – Trail Report, Learn – Be a Geologist, Learn – The Wear-Away Forces, Learn – Wild Ways, Learn – Living Soils, Explore – Meet the Plants, Learn – Otto’s Dream, Learn – Living off the Land, and Protect this Land Forever. Several activities focused on geology, a main theme of this park. Learning about the through John Otto’s Dream was enlightening. The focus on biology through Meet the Plants and Living Soil was the most interesting for me. Overall the booklet is well designed and was enjoyable to complete.

I finished up some of the drawing activities after I got home from the trip and mailed it to the address on their website. My booklet was returned with the standard Junior Ranger badge aling with a congratulatory letter from Ranger Abby. I really appreciated the persoal comme ts she added to the booklet.


Download the Activity Guide;

Click to access Activity-Guide.pdf

Junior Arizona Archeologist – 18 Arizona NPS sites

Navajo National Monument Archaeology
Navajo National Monument – Betatakin Ruin

Junior Arizona Archeologists
18 Arizona NPS sites

Click to access Junior-AZ-Arch-2016-as-published.pdf

Junior Ranger – Senior Friendly

Completed: October 18, 2018

In 2016 the Southern Arizona National Parks Office and Western National Parks Association created a statewide junior ranger program highlighting archeology throughout Arizona. The Oxford dictionary defines archeology as “the study of human history and prehistory through the excavation of sites and the analysis of artifacts and other physical remains“. Without a doubt the Arizona sites provide a wealth of experiences to explore the state’s rich archeological history.

Organ Pipe Cactus NM - Archaeology
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument – Victoria Mine

Eighteen of the twenty-two NPS Arizona sites are included in this program. To earn the patch only four sites have to be visited. A site specific ‘rocker’ patch was initially available for all of the sites. By the time I finished it in 2018 several sites had run out of their patch. I was able to get 12 of the 18 ‘rocker’ patches. Every site I visited was friendly to this Senior.

Each site has two pages to complete, one to be done on site and another page that can be done before you arrive. To be honest I found some of these on site activities to be the hardest I have ever done. Matching the picture in the booklet with the items on display in the visitor center was a challenge. The mixture of photo identification with answering questions was a great way to learn about the site’s archeology.

Montezuma Castle NM Archaeology
Montezuma Castle National Monument

I never tire of visiting the many Arizona National Park Services sites. Having this statewide program focused on archeology provided a fun experience.

Vicksburg National Military Park – Mississippi

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Vicksburg National Military Park
Mississippi

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

Completed: January 3, 2019

Senior Friendly

During most of January 2019 a majority of National Park Service sites were closed due to an extended government shut down. We had traveled from Big Bend National Park (SW Texas) to Central Kentucky during this time to visit Camp Nelson National Monument. This site was the newest site for the NPS and commemorated our 400th visit to a NPS site. As a new site it was still being managed by the local government. On our way back home we learned that the City of Vicksburg was providing funds to keep Vicksburg NMP open. Walking into the Visitor Center and seeing rangers in uniform, on duty, was appreciated. Other NPS sites, across the country, were kept ‘open’, but without professional staff which lead to vandalism and unsanitary conditions in the parks.

Back to my visit to complete this Junior Ranger program. This program is considered Senior Friendly as no age groups are specified and everyone needs to only complete five activities to receive the badge. Even on this cold, rainy day completing five activities was easy to complete and gave me a good understanding of the importance of this battle during the US Civil War.

As an aside, I have heard about the Battle of Vicksburg all of my life. My great-grandfather fought and was wounded in this battle for the Union, as part of the Kentucky Infantry. He lived with my father when my father was a young boy. Several stories about Vicksburg were handed down and retold over the years. While touring the park I was able to visit the unique memorial, a tribute to both the Union and Confederate from Kentucky. Compared to the other memorials this memorial was erected recently, in 2001, a short walk from the Tour Road. An interesting fact I learned is that Abraham Lincoln and Robert E Lee were both born in Kentucky.

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Besides driving the Tour Road I completed the following activities; Visitor Center Questions, United States in:1861, Artillery Unscramble, Who Were They?, and Medicinal Plants. There are 15 different activities, many which would be enjoyable to complete on a warmer and drier day. The activity I enjoyed the most was “Who Were They?”. I was able to use the details of my great-grandfather’s enlistment to complete their enlistment form. I had received a copy of his enlistment at Camp Nelson National Monument.

The rangers on duty were enthusiastic reviewing this Senior Ranger’s booklet. Upon finishing the review I was sworn in as a Junior Ranger and received their enhanced badge depicting a cannon.

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Instagram: @Srjrranger

New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park – Massachusetts

New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park
Massachusetts

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

Junior Ranger – Senior Friendly

Completed: July 21, 2018

Junior Ranger Park Voyage

While visiting New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park in July of 2018 for the annual conference of the National Park Travelers Club (parkstamps.org) I completed a fun junior ranger activity. Instead of the standard junior ranger booklet I was offered a one page activity. This park is spread out over many city blocks in the charming, seaside town of New Bedford.


Mural of Frederick Douglass, a resident in the late 1830s

The page had five spaces for stickers from locations around town. This was basically a walking tour of the town. Even though it was July, and could have been hot and humid, it was a delightful 75 degrees.

The sites I visited were;

New Bedford Art Museum – it was open and free. An exhibit featured John Audubon’s work with an emphasis on his time spent in the area.

New Bedford Whaling Museum – an impressive museum which charges an admission. Our meeting was held at the museum and we were given free admission. If you visit this site plan on spending a couple of hours.

New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center – a small storefront with a nice display of fishing related materials, including different buoys. No admission is charged, about 1/2 hour is sufficient to tour the center,

Seamen’s Bethel – a public building which continues to serve as a chapel was built in 1830. During the day while I was in the area a christening and later a wedding was held here. A beautiful garden alongside the chapel was an enjoyable place to enjoy the wonderful weather.

Visitor Center – once I had visited all of the other sites I returned with my sheet to earn the Junior Ranger stamp for the park and their standard Junior Ranger badge. I really enjoyed this activity, simple to complete, but an enjoyable tour of this historic area.

Junior Ranger booklet

Click to access New-Bedford-JR-Book-Web-2016.pdf

Cape Cod National Seashore – Massachusetts


Salt Pond

Cape Cod National Seashore
Massachusetts

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

Completed: July 23, 2018

Cape Cod National Seashore is a mixture of national parklands mixed with private land, stretched out along a spit of land that stretches out into the Atlantic Ocean. Driving along the spit there are several visitor centers, as well as beaches and plenty of places to eat and stay.


Activities are divided into two age categories identified with animal icons at the top of each page; Grey seal icon for ages 5 to 7 and Humpback whale for ages 8 to 12. To become a Junior Ranger you are to complete at least five age-related activities, visit one cultural site and attend a ranger-guided activity. If you are not able to attend a ranger program ask for handout titled “Junior Ranger Alternative Activities”.

Even with limited time to work on this I was able to complete more than the minimum number of activities. The activities I completed;
Visit Cultural Site – Highland Light, a lighthouse that has a date of 1857 on the chimney, and is surrounded by a golf course.

Scavenger Hunt – I saw quite a few of the items depicted.

Exploring the Seashore – great graphics of plants and animals of which the words for these items are hidden within a word search.

Lifesaving Crossword – I appreciated the content provided on the first page with a lot of information about shipwreck lifesaving due to the frequent storms in the area. Instead of clues the bold words are matched with the first letter in the crossword grid.

Native Detective – an easy graphic match of animals to their tracks.

Get the Word Out! – design a poster about an important issue unique to Cape Cod NS. My posted depicted a pristine beach scene with a title “What’s Missing?”. The subtitles are; No Pets on the Beach, No Trash and No One on the Sand dunes.

What’s the Weather? – it was a gorgeous July day as we explored the area, partly cloudy and 75 degrees with a light breeze is what I recorded.

Staying in Touch – I wrote a note to my grandchildren comparing and contrasting this beach to a beach where they often visit along the west coast.

History Detective – An easy 3 multiple-choice questions based on archaeology.

Cranberry Harvest – six pictures showing the steps to cranberry harvest are scrambled for you to number in the correct order starting with what happens in January.

Crack the Code – Cape Cod NS was the site of the first message to be transmitted across the Atlantic Ocean to England in 1903. Morse Code was used by Marconi to send the message. A simple message is given to decipher with the provided Morse Code, a fun activity.

Marconi exhibit at park headquarters

I had picked up the booklet as we entered the area at the Salt Pond Visitor Center and worked on it on our drive out to Province Lands Visitor Center. The booklet was reviewed by a volunteer and the enhanced wooden badge was presented.

Fort Stanwix National Monument – New York


Fort Stanwix National Monument
New York

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

Completed: July 20, 2018

Fort Stanwix is a re-creation of a fort which was the center of activity in the Mohawk Valley, upper central New York, around the Revolutionary War. A variety of people called this area home; Six Nation Confederacy (local Native Americans) and multiple European immigrants. The history is complex, but very well interpreted inside the visitor center and outside on the fort grounds.

The booklet indicates you are to complete the same number of pages as your age. With 13 activities this Senior ranger tried to do all 13. The ranger on duty was forgiving and allowed me to skip a couple of activities, we were on a tight travel schedule.

Activities included;
What’s Your Story? – 3 questions you answer based on one of four people you select who lived in the Mohawk Valley during the Revolutionary War. The questions explored the individuals and your opinion about the conflicts of the time, I selected Bear Clan Mother.

Using A Map – create your own map based on the many maps in the visitor center, plus label a map provided with at least four of 11 locations provided. My map focused on the Finger Lakes area.

What Do You See? – a quick draw of four items found in the visitor center based on something; a child would use and an adult would use in the past, a child and adult would use today.

Yours or Theirs? – two pages of items based on travel and transportation, clothing, weaponry and cooking that you select if the item would be used during the Revolutionary War.

Building Fort Stanwix – using wooden blocks provided to build a fort, then a sketch of it.

Who Am I? – 6 questions to identify people displayed on a wall titled; “Who’s Who on the New York Frontier”. I found this the most difficult task in the booklet, the information was there, but it took a lot of reading to match it to the details.

What’s Up With Waysides? – a walk outside and along the fort trail had you write down three things you learned from the wayside exhibits, plus a space to design tour own wayside. My wayside featured the Natural Environment that would have been present in 1777.


I Am So Wore Out With Fatigue! – a choice to attend a ranger program (if available) or watch the film shown in one of the fort rooms, then answer questions.

Where Are Your Rations? – a quick nine-square Tic-Tac-Toe of items found in the fort rooms.

Imagine Yourself When… Write or draw about how you would have spent a day around the fort. I wrote about candle-making, as a means to earn money to feed the family while the woman’s soldier was away.

What Do You Stand For? – Lots of flags have flown over Fort Stanwix, with a space to create your own flag.

Defended to the Last Extremity – a diagram of the defenses of the fort to be labeled.

Let’s Make A Deal – a quick maze based on trading goods at the fort.

Additional Activities – Traveling Bingo, Make Your Own Ink!, and Crossword Puzzle.

It was a busy day when I visited, but I was able to complete the activities in a little over an hour. I appreciated the time Ranger Scott spent with me reviewing my booklet and discussing some of the complexities of the history at Fort Stanwix National Monument.

Online booklet!

Click to access NPS_FOST_JRBooklet_11-12-Web.pdf

Minidoka National Historic Site – Idaho

Minidoka National Historic Site
Idaho

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

Completed: June 13,2018

This stop along our route was a re-visit to this site. It was good to see that there is now a visitor center, interpretive signs, ballpark and other buildings in progress of being restored. The ranger on duty was a wealth of information, providing excellent information about this historic site. I always find it difficult to visit the sites within the National Park Service which interpret dark times in our history, but I appreciate the honesty which the information is presented. The site is small and the Junior Ranger booklet can be completed easily during a short visit.

The program is not Senior Friendly as the oldest age listed is 12, however the ranger on duty readily provided the booklet to this Senior. Of the 11 activities in the booklet, 6 are to be completed by these 6-9 years old and 8 of the activities by those 10-12 years old.


The eleven activities are;
Minidoka Word Search – 15 words related to this site.
What Would You Take? – with only five days notice and just able to bring suitcases this activity had you list what you would bring, how much could you fit in one suitcase and what you would have to leave behind. This was difficult and eye-opening.
Connect the Centers – Matching the 10 Relocation Centers with the states scattered in 7 Western states,
Minidoka Journal – writing about a day of life in the camp. I wrote about the heat and wind and a brother playing baseball.
Haiku – Bright blue skies
Thinking of grey skies
And going home soon
Fill-in-the-Blank – 7 words are given to complete sentences which provide background about relocation camps.
Finding Your Way Home – a quick maze based on when the Japanese-Americans began returning home in 1945.
Color By Number – coloring the logo for this site, the entry gate.
Ask A Ranger – I learned that most of the internees at Minidoka came from the Pacific NW.
Was It There? – deciding if typical buildings in a city were present at Minidoka; such as post office, library, gas station, schools, theatre, and churches were present.
Cryptogram – using a key, words are decoded that describe where the internees cane from, where they were assigned and other details related to this time in history.

Prior to leaving the site the ranger presented me with the enhanced wooden Junior Ranger badge. This site is near other park sites, as well as Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge which is well worth a visit while in the area.