Bighorn Canyon NRA – Wyoming & Montana

2015-09-10-17-16-00

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
Montana & Wyoming

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

Completed: June 20, 2016

Copy for download;
https://www.nps.gov/bica/learn/kidsyouth/upload/Jrranger%20booklet%20for%20web.pdf

This recreation area spans two states, Wyoming and Montana. The Bighorn River is dammed at the northern end, in Montana, to form a large reservoir. I have camped at both ends, in Wyoming and Montana, most recently in Montana twice in the past year. During this last visit I picked up the Junior Ranger Booklet and was able to complete it during my visit.

This program is not rated as Senior Friendly as the booklet lists two age groups; ages 6-9 and ages 10-12. However, the staff willingly provided the booklet to this senior. Ages 6-9 are to complete four pages with ages 10-12 completing five of seven pages.

The activities in the booklet include; Yellowtail Dam, A Scavenger Hunt, Historic Sites, Bighorn Canyon Word Search, Bighorn Canyon Bingo, The Bighorn River Maze and the final page is journal to record your activities.

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Cedar Waxwing

I enjoyed the Scavenger Hunt which is based on information in the park brochure, as well as your observations. The bingo activity included a short description of each item on the page, this provided additional information of the item seen while touring the park. The last page as a journal where I recorded what I saw and heard while at the park, as well as sharing what I enjoyed most during my visit. For me, identifying a new bird, Eastern Kingbird, was the most enjoyable.

I returned to the visitor center at the Yellowtail Dam and an intern reviewed my booklet and administered the pledge. I enjoy meeting the interns that provide important staffing for so many of the parks.
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Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument – Arizona

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Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
Arizona

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

Senior Friendly

Completed: August 1, 2014

Online:
https://www.nps.gov/sucr/planyourvisit/upload/SUCR%20JR%20Workbook3.pdf

As a national monument, almost in my background, this is a site I have visited numerous times over the years. A very favorite campground, Bonito, is across the road from the visitor center. I have actually completed this Junior Ranger program twice, March 2013 and August 2014. The first time I completed with my two grandchildren and then on my own. And as I have stated before I learned and experienced something new.

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This program is considered Senior Friendly as no age groupings are given, just the direction to complete five or more pages. There are six pages in the booklet. A nice feature of this program is you may turn in your completed packet at either the Sunset Crater Volcano or Wupatki visitor centers. There is a beautiful drive between the two sites which allows you to continue on your trip without returning to the visitor center.

The activities are; Monitoring Our Living Earth, The Great Earth Puzzle, A Place of Cultural Importance, Legend Has It, Excellent Eruptions, Lookin’ at the Lava, Making a Difference, A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words and Sunset Search.

The answers for the first several activities are found in the visitor center displays. A monitor shows current earthquake activity, on my two visits I located recent earthquakes in Alaska, California, and the Tonga Islands.

While walking along the Lava Flow Trail through the Bonito Lava Flow I was able to locate five of the seven features; Sunset Crater Volcano, San Francisco Mountain, Aa lava, Xenolith and a Squeeze-up.

One of my favorite activities when completing Junior Ranger programs is interviewing a park ranger. Ranger Robert told me he had a degree in Field Biology and his favorite place in the park is the O’Leary Trail because it provides a nice overview of the park. On my second visit in March 2014 I combined the last two activities into one by drawing Sunset Search finds.
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Cumberland Gap National Historical Park – Kentucky, Tennessee & Virginia

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

Senior Friendly

Completed: August 13, 2016

https://www.nps.gov/cuga/learn/kidsyouth/upload/junior%20ranger%20activity%20book.pdf

This year while criss-crossing the country collecting the NPS Centennial stamps I was fortunate to be able to re-visit Cumberland Gap. This is a special park site, as my ancestors moved through the Gap to settle in Kentucky and Tennessee. Visiting in August was not ideal, it was a hot and humid day. The activities for this Junior Ranger program could be completed without too much discomfort.

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All ages can complete this program, earning it a Senior Friendly designation. The instructions just indicate to complete as many activities as you can in the booklet. The activities include; National Parks Near You!, Groovy Movie Trivia, Visitor Center Exhibit Crossword Puzzle, Pioneer Playhouse, Wildflower Tic Tac Toe, Dr. Thomas Walker Word Search, Pioneer Journal, Visions of Cumberland Gap, Operation Overlook, Beat Brush Mountain!, Settlement Spelling Bee, Cave Creations, Bats Like Us!, A Balanced Bear Diet, Wanted! Exotic Invaders, Ranger Reporter, Mountain Melodies, Art Splash, and Cumberland Gap Greetings!

Wow – lots of choices and most easy to complete during an afternoon’s visit. I appreciated the variety of activities and the information that many of the pages provided about this park. The movies in the visitor center gave information about Daniel Boone’s role in westward expansion and the geographical uniqueness of the Cumberland Gap. The crossword puzzle’s answers could be found by exploring the exhibits in the visitor center; another summer-friendly activity.

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Writing about my ancestor’s experience in the Visions of Cumberland Gap gave me a direction connection to this park. Cave Creations reinforced what I have learned at other National Park sites with caves. An anatomy lesson of a bat allowed comparison between humans and bats, both mammals. One my favorite activities at any park is interviewing a park ranger. The ranger, Sharon, shared her background and favorite part of her job. She told me that in April 2016, on one day, 2,500 Junior Rangers were awarded – amazing!

After reviewing my completed booklet I received two Junior Rangers badges, the traditional badge and the special one awarded in April.

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Lava Beds National Monument – California

imageLava Beds National Monument
California

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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Golden Spike National Historic Site – Utah

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Golden Spike National Site
Utah

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

Completed: May 22, 2016

Senior Friendly

Download: https://www.nps.gov/gosp/learn/kidsyouth/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&PageID=2198215

Three years ago I began completing Junior Ranger programs, as a Senior! As I have traveled around the country I have completed almost 100 Senior or Junior Ranger programs. By completing this program I have done all of the Junior Ranger programs for the NPS sites in Utah. I still have a couple to complete to Arizona, my home state. This is another program which I was able to download and print the booklet before I left home and was able to complete a portion before arriving.

This is considered Senior Friendly as there is no age range given, the activities include; Safety First, Plan your Visit, Track Match, Scavenger Hunt, Central Pacific, Union Pacific and You Built It!, Telegraph Message, Write the Headline, Weather Report, Garbage or Artifact, and Engrave A Spike.

Several of the facts were found in the exhibits in the visitor center. It took a while to find the name of the restaurant at Promontory in 1869. It was in a wood panel hanging on the wall.

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I enjoyed looking around until I found the portrait of the local woman who was instrumental in establishing this site as an NPS site. Figuring out the parts of a train track was challenging. Throughout the booklet, at the bottom of the pages, was an incomplete track linking Sacramento to Omaha. An activity was to draw in the missing parts; tracks, bridges, tunnels, culvert and trestles.

The ranger on duty reviewed my booklet, we discussed the location of some of the answers that were found in the visitor center. Ranger Cole signed my certificate, issued pledge and gave me the badge.
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Pipe Spring National Monument – Arizona

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Pipe Spring National Monument
Arizona

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

Completed: May 18, 2016

Senior Friendly

Download: https://www.nps.gov/pisp/learn/kidsyouth/upload/Junior-Ranger2016-web.docx

Pipe Spring National Monument is in the Arizona Strip, a northern section of the state that looks dry; this site is an oasis. The building, Winsor Castle, was built by early ranchers on land that the Paiute Indians called home for at least 1000 years. The visitor center and living history displays on the grounds tells the whole story from ancient times to the late 1800s. It is a great place to explore.

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This program gets the Senior Friendly rating as no age limits is given. I printed the booklet before I left home and was able to complete several of the activities before I arrived. Once there I spent additional time in the visitor center and attended a ranger program to complete this program. There is no requirement to attend a ranger program, however the information I learned helped me in completing the booklet.

The activities include; Pipe Spring Scavenger Hunt, Explore the Museum, Animal Tracks at Pipe Spring National Monument, Pipe Spring Outside, Wagonload Supplies, Fort Tour, Match Past to Present, and Paiute Language.

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All of the activities gave me a better understanding of the history of this site, and of the natural environment of this area, including changes in water resources. The tour of the house with the period contents gives you a good idea what life was like in the 1800s.

Once I completed all of the activities my booklet was reviewed by staff at the front desk. I appreciated their review and discussion we had to clarify some of my answers. After reciting the Junior Ranger Pledge and stamping my booklet with their passport and NPS Centennial stamp I received an enhanced badge. The badge depicts an outline of Winsor Castle.

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Big Thicket National Preserve – Texas

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Big Thicket National Preserve

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

Completed: March 29, 2016

Senior Friendly

This was a return visit for me, my third time here. When I was here last, in November 2013, I was able to explore more, including a hike along the Kirby Nature Trail. The Preserve is made up of multiple sections of land along the Eastern edge of Texas.
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The cooler and drier weather made the time outside enjoyable. Today was overcast, the area had experienced recent flooding and mosquitos were thick. This time I wanted to complete the Junior Ranger, I combined my hike from the previous visit with time spent watching the park movie and exploring the visitor center displays.

This program is Senior Friendly, it is even stated in the introduction that “any person of any age can become a Junior Ranger”. I like that they specify ‘any person of any age’! I believe this is the first program, of almost 100 I have completed, that clearly includes all ages.

In the introduction the booklet looks fairly simple, you are expected to complete two of four activities; watch park movie, complete Visitor Center scavenger hunt, hike a trail and complete back of brochure and explore one of two areas by boat. I was able to complete 3 of the 4 activities, using the hike from the previous visit. The scavenger hunt seemed it would be easy, however once I started working on the Visitor Center Habitat Match I found it challenging. I also learned that there are nine distinct habitats within the Preserve. I needed help with placing an animal in their habitat with at one of the animal/habitat matches, the ranger was helpful.

For the hike section I completed it based on exploring the area outside the visitor center, as I couldn’t remember many of the animals or plants I saw in November 2013. I found a small strawberry plant with a berry turning red, I drew that in the ‘Express Yourself’ section.

The ranger on duty reviewed my completed booklet and had prepared a very professional certificate, with my name printer-generated. He initially gave me the standard Junior Ranger badge, but before I left he switched it out for an enhanced badge, featuring the Longleaf Pine of the Preserve.

Booklet, certificate & badge.
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Padre Island National Seashore – Texas

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Padre Island National Seashore
Texas

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

Completed: March 28, 2016

Senior Friendly

After camping within the park and waking to thunder and lightning I went to the Malaquite Visitor Center to pick up the Junior Ranger booklet. As the rain was still falling I found a dry bench on the large porch to begin working on the booklet.

The program is Senior Friendly as no age grouping is given. The introduction indicates you can work alone, with family or a group of friends. All activities are expected to be completed.

Activities include; Ask a Ranger, Winging It, Against All Odds, Ask the Turtle Expert, The Park in the Dark, Beach Clean-Up, The People of Padre, A World of Jellies, and Seashell Search. Between displays in the visitor center, videos in the center and a walk on the beach I was able to complete all of the activities in about two hours.

Hanging out on the beach
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I enjoyed all of the activities and appreciated the diversity of the activities. Winging It has you identify 5 different birds and their unique environments. Protecting sea turtles, especially Kemp’s Ridley, nesting on the island is an important part of this park’s mission. Learning about them and thinking about how to protect them made me think how important this endangered animal is to this ecosystem.

Pelican Fly-over
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The Seashell Search took me out on the beach to find as many examples pictured as I could find. Inside the visitor center is a touch table with all of the shells displayed. I was pleased to be able to find four of the 15 shells on the beach and then spent time finding the others at the touch table. The Park in the Dark activity had you match eight animals that are active in the dark. I did not realize the Black Skimmer would be active after dark.

In addition to the standard Junior Ranger badge you can earn a patch if you pick up a bag of trash while beachcombing. I found a shopping bag along the walkway on my way down to beach which I used to collect of full bag of trash; plastic water bottles, parts of toys and even a shoe. The staff in the visitor center will give you a bag and gloves for this activity.

Patch & sticker for collecting trash
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Once done I went back to the visitor center to interview a ranger, Carlin. I always enjoy doing this activity, she was fairly new to this park, but was enthusiastic about her responsibilities, especially working with school groups. She reviewed my completed booklet and issued me the oath, certificate, turtle button and badge.

Booklet, badge, certificate & button
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Big Bend National Park -Texas

Santa Elena Canyon
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Big Bend National Park
Texas

http://www.nos.gov/bibe/index.htm

Completed: March 23, 2016

Senior Friendly

Big Bend is big, bigger than the state of Rhode Island. There are many places to explore and different environments; river, mountains and desert. I spent three days there on this trip and looking forward to returning to spend more time!

This program is considered Senior Friendly as the third age group is listed for ages 12 and over, no upper age limit given. The three age groups are; under age 7, 7 to 11,and ages 12 and over. Basically the older you are the more pages you are to complete.

The topics include; Dynamic Deserts and Amazing Adaptation, Plant Power, “Digging” Dinosaurs!, Take a Walk on the Wild Side, The Bear Facts, Feline Fun!, Stories from the Past, History Highlights, Growing Up in Big Bend, and Naturalist’s Notebook.

Flowers
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Besides answering questions or completing the activities there are a couple of drawings that can be done. I drew a mesquite tree, a Northern cardinal on a picnic table and a Greater Roadrunner. These are all things that I saw while sitting in my campsite in Rio Grande Village.

I enjoyed matching Prickly Pear Parts as part of the Plant Power page, six different parts were to be identified. Another matching activity was about the animals in the park, everything from a Black Bear to a Millipede, on the page titled Take a Walk on the Wild Side.

After a short reading about the Black Bears in Big Bend the information presented is used to complete a crossword puzzle. Stories from the Past showed pictograph symbols with a description, based on what they might represent. Space is given for you to create your own pictograph.

Pictographs along the Hot Springs Trail
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While in the park I was fortunate to be able to visit all of the visitor centers, five of them scattered throughout this large area. Before leaving the park I stopped at Panther Junction and had a ranger review my completed booklet. A small certificate indicating I was an ‘Official Junior Ranger’ at Big Bend National Park and I received the standard badge.

Booklet and badge
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Fort Davis National Historic Site – Texas

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Fort Davis National Historic Site
Texas

http://www.nps.gov/foda

Completed: March 20, 2016

Senior Friendly

Our Spring trip was to take us through a large portion of Texas, the first stop was in southwestern Texas, up in the Davis Mountains. We arrived Saturday evening and camped at the nearby Davis Mountain State Park at 5,000 ft. It was very cold that night, down to 25 degrees. Luckily we have an electrical connection and could run our small heater, especially in the morning.

By the time we arrived at Fort Davis National Historic Site it had warmed up a bit, but there was a steady wind keeping it cold. After stopping in the visitor center and picking up the Junior Ranger program I headed out to follow a route throughout the site and answer questions. This fort played a major role in the development of the West for non-natives traveling on the San Antonio-El Paso Road from 1854 to 1891, with many of the fort building intact.

Fort Grounds

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It qualifies as Senior Friendly as no age range is given, the directions tell you to complete the activities to the best of your ability.This program has to be completed on site as the tour leads you to the specific locations to complete the blanks in the booklet.

The activities include; 12 questions about what is okay to do in the park, Scavenger Hunt, the 13 stop tour to fill-in-the blanks, 2 optional math questions about travel time and a decoding activity.

I liked the 12 questions about what is okay to do in the park because it wasn’t just No answers. Some asked if it was okay to pick up litter, take photographs, take water with you on a hike and others that are okay for you to do during your visit.

Fort Chapel Ruins
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The Scavenger Hunt pictured 11 items that you needed to be on the lookout for while touring the fort. The tour itself took you to most of the building, probably 1/2 mile walk in total. Some of the answers took some time to discover, I enjoyed figuring out the games and toys the children of a commanding officer enjoyed while living at the fort. The house was fully furnished and you had to look in several rooms to determine the answer.

Overlook View
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Once I completed the booklet and returned to the visitor center an enthusiastic ranger reviewed the answers and experience with me. Besides receiving the standard badge I was given 2 colorful and attractive patches. The first patch, in the shape of an arrowhead is their Junior Ranger patch. The previous weekend the park had held a special event to celebrate the Centennial of the NPS and a patch had been provided to those who participated in their Cannon Ball Run. The ranger asked if I was willing to walk up to the overlook on the south end of the park in order to “qualify” for this patch. Before leaving the fort I went up to the overlook which provided a great view of the entire fort, and was actually a very short distance.

Booklet, badge and patches
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