Hawai`i Island National Parks – Hawai`i


Black-necked Stilt

Hawai`i Island National Parks Junior Ranger Adventure Book

Completed: November 2017

This is a unique Junior Ranger program, and one I thoroughly enjoyed completing while visiting the Big Island of Hawai`i. I was on the island for a week so I had time to work on the activities for the five units; one national park, two national historical parks, a national historic site and a national historic trail.

As you complete all of the activities for each park, you receive their junior ranger badge. Additionally, the more park badges you earn, the higher the level of rewards you receive. In place of describing the activities for the different sites I hope the pictures will show how much fun this program was to complete.

The booklet lists the ages for this program as 7 to 12, however every site was very welcoming to this Senior Ranger.

Pu’ukoholā Heiau NHS
11/3/2017
A small site that was a place for the royal family, where a battle was fought and today, a refuge for sharks.
This site also has a Senior Ranger, or as it is called in Hawai`i, Kapuna Ranger. I only had to complete a couple of pages in the Kapuna Ranger booklet, in addition to the four pages in the main booklet.


Ala Kahakai NHT
11/4/2017
The trail traverses the Hawaiian coast for 175 miles. While visiting Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park I hiked a section of the trail, along the “1871 Trail”.

Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau NHP
11/4/2017
This is the site of another place for the royals, as well as a place of refuge, pu’uhonau. I joined a group of junior rangers and a ranger to weave a fish from coconut leaves.

Kaloko-Honokōhau NHP
11/5/2017
Fish are an important resource to the people of Hawai`i, at this site the historical fishponds can be explored.

Hawai’i Volcanoes NP
11/6/2017
Last, but not least was time spent at Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Our visit was six months before the Kīlauea crater became very active, causing local damage and restricting access to the park, at times. Besides seeing the crater near the Jaggar Museum, I really enjoyed hiking out to the petroglyphs. They are unique, mostly on rocks lying on the ground, not up on rock walls as I have typically seen.

I loved working on this program, the activities for each site were unique and interesting. As usual, I learned a lot and thoroughly enjoyed exploring these sites.

Hawai`i Island National Parks Junior Ranger – Adventure Book & Patch

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Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument – Utah


Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument
Utah

https://www.blm.gov/programs/national-conservation-lands/utah/grand-staircase-escalante-national-monument

Junior Scientist

Completed: May 20, 2016

The beauty of this monument is incredible, expansive and memorable. Get Outside and explore this unique landscape! My few photos do not do justice to this landmass, however the diversity of this monument is well represented in the Junior Scientist Activity Booklet.

When I completed the program in 2016 this Bureau of Land Management (BLM) National Monument was much larger than it is as I write this blog. And, as I recently drove through the area I was saddened to realize this monument, which was shrunk in size in early 2018, had been reduced in areas that were previously readily accessible from major roadways . I only hope that one day, soon, the original boundaries can restored.

This program does have an upper age limit printed in the booklet, however I was provided the booklet and badge readily. To become a Junior Scientist you need to;
Watch the “Traces in Time” video, available at several of their visitor centers.
6-8 years old completes 3 or more activities, 9-12 years old completes 5 or more activities.
Activities include;
Visitor Center Scavenger Hunt, Climbing the Grand Staircase, Paleontology Tool Hunt, Creating a Landscape, Top-Toe through the Crypto, Animal Tracks, Connecting to the Past, Human History, Leave No Trace, and Journal.

The Visitor Center Scavenger Hunt can be completed by visiting the four visitor centers and identifying each center’s theme and answer one question. During this one trip I was able to visit all four sites so I was able to complete all of the activities. As an adult, if you plan to complete this program, plan to visit all four visitor centers – well worth the views along the way!

Creating a Landscape was a drawing activity to illustrate how geology, through deposition and erosion, creates different landscape. My basic sketch depicted a rain cloud over the slick rock. I enjoyed Animal Tracks which included a story with animal tracks embedded, you had to match the animal’s tracks to the animal in the story.

Besides highlighting geology and biology the booklet includes great activities to learn about cryptobiotic soil, paleontology, archeology and environmental impact. The diversity of this monument is well represented in these activities. After exploring Grand Staircase- Escalante National Monument I completed all of the activities on the Junior Scientist Activity Booklet I received the badge at the Escalante Visitor Center.

Solar Eclipse – Nationwide


Photo by Roberta Klisiewicz
Eclipse Explorer
Nationwide

Completed: August 19, 2018

Senior Friendly
https://www.nps.gov/kids/pdf/jr-eclipse-exploreractivity%20book.pdf
During August 2017 a total eclipse was visible across the United States, it was the event of the summer. The National Park Service (NPS) identified 20 of their sites where the Path of Totality could be viewed. They provided a special passport stamp for each of the locations and a Junior Ranger booklet. Besides being available online many NPS sites had the booklet, including many not along the Path of Totality. I was able to pick up my booklet at Saguaro National Park in Tucson, AZ, over 1,000 miles from the closest NPS site of the total eclipse.

The booklet was created as a partnership between the U.S. National Park Service and The Planetary Society, plus it features Bill Nye and a character named Junior Ranger Calisa to help you to complete the booklet. It is Senior Friendly with three ages groups;
Earth – ages 5-7
Moon – ages 8-9
Sun – ages 10 +
To earn the badge you need to complete the activities for your age group.

Activities include; Become an Eclipse Explorer, What is a Total Solar Eclipse, Protect Your Eyes, Syzygy, Ancient Cultures and Eclipses, Tell Your Own Story, Future Eclipses, Look-Listen-Feel, Make Your Way through the Solar Corona Maze, Shadows and Light, and Stamp out the Sun.

I was able to complete the booklet over several days by using the material provided on each page. On the page that shows the Path of Totality they provided dates for future total eclipses through the United States. Looks like I have a couple of more chances to observe totality, if I live to be 90!

Within the booklet a pair of ‘Safe for Direct Solar Viewing’ glasses were provided. I used them to observe the partial eclipse in Tucson, about 60%. A friend observed the total eclipse at Fort Laramie National Historic Site, in eastern Wyoming. She shared photos from that site showing the sun blocked out.

I was unable to observe the total eclipse, however I did write to all 20 NPS sites for their unique Total Solar Eclipse stamp. Between stamps provided from the sites via a SASE (self addressed stamped envelope) and trading with members of the National Park Travelers Club I was able to collect all of the stamps.

After completing the booklet I returned to Saguaro National Park where my booklet was reviewed and I was awarded the enhanced, wooden badge as a Eclipse Explorer.

Russell Cave National Monument – Alabama


Russell Cave National Monument
Alabama

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

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.

Cabrillo National Monument – California

Cabrillo National Monument
California

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

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.

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!

El Malpais National Monument – New Mexico

La Ventana Sandstone Arch
El Malpais National Monument – New Mexico

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

Completed: October 5, 2017

Senior Friendly

While traveling along I-40 in New Mexico a great detour to the south of Grants is a largely unknown national monument with lots to see and experience. Parts of the park are also managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). From black lava flows to beautiful sandstone arches plus wildlife and wildflowers, what’s not to like!

You can pick up an El Malpais Junior Ranger book at the BLM Ranger Station (check hours), the Northwest New Mexico Visitor Center (right off I-40 in Grants), or the Information Center (closed in the winter). Once completed the booklet can be checked by a ranger at any of the three visitor centers. Or, if you can’t complete your mission while visiting, just send it in and they will send you your badge and certificate.


Rufous Hummingbird

This program is considered Senior Friendly as no age limit is given. Everyone is to complete at least six of the nine activities for all ages. Activities include; The Continental Divide, Hiking the CDT, Big Rock Bingo, Life Zones, Water Ways, Picturing People, Indoor Scavenger Hunts: BLM Ranger Station, Northwest New Mexico Visitor Center, and El Malpais Information Center, Listen Up, Down, and All Around and In Your Own Words.

One of the highlights of this part is the Continental Divide Trail (CDT), a 3,100 mile multi-use trail following the continental divide linking Mexico to Canada. This is considered the PhD of long distance trails, with the Appalachian Trail the bachelor level and the Pacific Crest Trail the masters. While visiting you can learn more about the CDT by completing the first two activities and by day-hiking sections in the park.

Snowball Sand Verbena
El Malpais is all about volcanoes, as recently as 2,000 to 3,000 years ago. Big Rock Bingo is a great activity to learn about the different kinds of formations created; spatter cone, pahoehoe flows, lava tubes, as well as other ones. As lifeless as the lava flows can seem the monument is alive with animals and plants. While camped at Joe Skeen Campground I was fortunate to see a Prairie Rattlesnake near our campsite.

Prairie Rattlesnake

Completing the Indoor Scavenger Hunt at the Northwest New Mexico Visitor Center took some patience to read the displays to answer the four questions about the Monument, staff were helpful in guiding me to the needed information. So many places within the park site are off the beaten path that you can hear the sounds of nature with fewer human-made sounds which you can record in Listen Up, Down and All Around.

I picked up the booklet on a visit in July 2017 and returned in October 2017 to finish and receive my Junior Ranger badge. This is a site I look forward to visiting again and again, hoping to see more wildlife, as well as explore this diverse environment.