Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument – New Mexico


Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument
New Mexico

Completed: May 6, 2017

Senior Ranger


During our Spring trip through central New Mexico I wanted to visit all three of the pueblos of Salinas Pueblo Missions NM to earn their Junior Ranger badge. I had printed a copy of their booklet before leaving home to make sure I had it when I started my visit, in case one of the visitor centers was closed. Our first stop was at Gran Quivira where I completed the Junior Ranger portion for that site. After visiting there we stopped at the park headquarters in Mountainair for their passport stamps. While talking to the staff and explaining that I was working on the Junior Ranger booklet I was handed their Senior Ranger Program booklet!

The three missions are miles apart and each site is distinct, well worth visiting each site. Salinas means salt and the missions are part of the Salt Missions Trail Scenic Byway. The sites promote the history of the prehistoric Ancestral Puebloan and Jumano groups, to the 17th century Spanish Franciscan missionaries, and the returning settlers of the 1800s.

The booklet is easy to complete, whether visiting one of the three sites, or all of them. As we had planned to visit all three on this trip, and I was also working on the Junior Ranger booklet, it was easy to complete both programs.

The activities are; Compare Historical Photos of Abo, Quarai and Gran Quivira, Plant & Tree Identification, Wildlife Found at Salinas Pueblo Missions, Pictographs & Petroglyphs, Four Churches at Salinas Pueblo Missions, National Park Service Word Search, and Salinas Pueblo Missions Word Search.
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Completing this program is very easy, the booklet states that you only need to complete one exercise at one of the three sites to earn their attractive park pin. While at Quivira we sat outside the visitor center and completed five of the activities. The wildlife page had photos take by game cameras of an owl, jackrabbit, rattlesnake, elk and coyotes. A series of questions were asked about which animal you would like to see while visiting and how you should deal with wildlife, if seen.

For Pictographs and Petroglyphs you draw an event in your life which can be represented by symbols. I had fun creating a series of symbols depicting my retirement from teaching and traveling.

Once we finished a ranger reviewed our booklets, and we had some good discussion about the activities. I always appreciated when park staff can spend extra time looking over my completed booklets. For their Senior Rangers they award their attractive park pin. I always try to leave a donation when completing either Junior or Senior Ranger programs, but I especially make sure I remember when they provide an extra special award.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area – Arizona & Utah

Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Arizona – Nevada

Completed: February 24, 2016

Senior Friendly


Not far from Las Vegas, but a world away from the lights is Lake Mead. Camping along the shore brought a beautiful evening glow on the cliffs as the sun was setting. Before setting up camp I picked up the Junior Ranger Guide and Activity Book to begin work on the activities.

For the hike activity we walked along the Historic Railroad Trail, a trail that was built to build the Hoover/Boulder Dam. Along the way there are interpretative signs, as well as great views. As this is in a desert environment there were flowers in bloom along the trail.

This program is considered Senior Friendly as the only age instruction is if you are older than ten you are to complete all (6) of the activities in the booklet. The activities are; Rangers and their jobs…, From River to Reservoir, Leave No Treads, Adaptations Tic-Tac-Toe, who Belongs Here?, and Junior Archaeologist.

The word puzzle was a creative way to list the different kind of responsibilities that park rangers have, letters and symbols were used for you to name the job. From River to Reservoir told how Lake Mead, as a reservoir was formed. Using pictures that were out of order you number them to show the order of the water’s path.

I really enjoyed the Adaptations Tic-Tac-Toe, a nice change from the standard park bingo. Nine adaptations were given and if you see the adaptation while in the park you draw what you see. In addition to the several things that I did see I drew an representation of the other adaptations that plants and animals have to survive in the desert environment in this area.

What I liked about this Junior Ranger program is a short description or information was provided with each activity so you learned some background information before completing the activity. Who Belongs Here? gave very good information about native and invasive plants with a good explanation of why invasive plants can harm the local environment.

Once completed you can take it to the Alan Bible Visitor Center, or if you have already left the area you can mail the booklet. Either way you will receive a certificate and an attractive patch.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park – Texas

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

El Capitan

Senior Ranger

Completed: April 13, 2014


A favorite park with a Senior Ranger program! We arrived Saturday afternoon with a strong wind blowing. First stop was the Visitor Center to pick up the Senior Ranger booklet. Even in April the campground was almost full. After setting up our campsite we tried to sit outside before dinner, but the wind was too strong. While hiding out from the wind in the van we began working on the booklet.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is a bit out of the way with lots of hiking trails, but few other services besides the campground and visitor center. It is 35 miles to the closest motel and food services, up to White’s City, near Carlsbad Caverns National Park. This can affect the amount of time spent at the part, either a short visit or spending more time in the park. Their Senior Ranger program is designed for the shorter or longer visits. The requirements for either range of visits is listed at the beginning of the booklet.

We were there overnight so we worked on the requirements for the shorter visit, but completed additional activities. Activities includes; Map Work, Where Am I?, Just Outside the Visitor Center Doors, Critters, What is that Plant, For Your Information, Slideshow Sleuth, Chihuahuan Desert Fun Facts, and finally Completion. As a Senior Ranger program the activities were presented at an informational level, more so than usually found in Junior Ranger programs.

A favorite activity was The Critters page which gave facts about different animals for you to identify. Several hints provided interesting information on ten local critters. As desert-rats most of the animals were familiar to us and using additional resources was not necessary. Only four plants were featured in What is that Plant?, which included pictures. More detailed facts were also given about each plant to help you identify the plants.

A 12 minute film is shown, upon request, in the Pine Springs Visitor Center. This activity has you answer 12 questions based on details in the slideshow. Most answers were easy to glean from the film, a few I had to confirm from other resources to make sure I had the correct answers.


Claret Cup Cactus

Throughout the booklet you are encouraged to use multiple resources; visitor center displays, interpretative signs, brochures, ranger information and what you see during your visit. On the back of the booklet an extensive list of hikes in the park is provided. They are categorized by length; shorter, moderate and strenuous, with lengths and additional information given.

During previous visits I have hiked to the Top of Texas- Guadalupe Peak and along McKittrick Canyon. For this trip, due to the continuing strong winds, we hiked the short Pinery Trail the next morning. The views, as well as a nice display of wildflowers make the walk interesting. At the end of the trail are remains of a Butterfield Stage station.

Butterfield Stage Station - The Pinery

Butterfield Stage Station – The Pinery

With our booklets complete we returned to the visitor center to have our booklets completed. The park volunteer on duty Sunday morning had only been at this park for a week. We had a couple of questions to clarify, she helped to the best of her current knowledge. I think her review of our booklets helped her learn a bit more about this amazing park. Once we recited the Senior Ranger Pledge we received a very colorful patch.




Booklet and Patch

Booklet and Patch




Acadia National Park – Maine

Acadia National Park

Senior Ranger

Completed: October 24, 2013

Booklet Cover

The Senior Ranger booklet is purchased at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center bookstore for $3.95. Upon completion you turn it into a NPS Ranger for review, to take the oath and receive the patch. This is truly a Senior Ranger program; ages 18 and up.

The booklet covers a variety of topics from a multiple choice on ‘Leave No Trace’ which covers the rules of the park. I was surprised to learn that there is no backpacking in the park, too congested. There are ten activities, seven are required plus attending two ranger programs. I was there after the ranger programs had ended for the season. After checking with a ranger, the park video substituted for one ranger program and I was told to do an additional activity. I ended up completing nine activities.

Probably my favorite activity was walking along the Nature Trail at Jordan Pond. The view along the pond was beautiful and it provided an opportunity for Afternoon Tea at the Jordan Pond Restaurant. A hike and fresh popovers – the perfect combination.

Jordan Pond

Afternoon Tea

The only downside to this program was the crossword puzzle. It involved 152 words, with very few relating to Acadia National Park. To whomever concocted this exercise, I can only say, it must have been a long, cold winter!

The Junior Ranger program at this park is free of charge and the booklets are at the NPS Information Desk at Hulls Cove Visitor Center. They are Senior Friendly as they indicate that 9 years and older need to complete at least 9 activities. They may be available at other locations during the summer season. Completion of the booklet earns you a patch.

When I finished the Senior Ranger booklet and brought it to the Visitor Center the Ranger on duty checked it thoroughly. The tide pool activity was the most difficult for me to complete, I appreciated her review and discussion. I received the badge pictured below after reciting the oath and being introduced to the Visitor Center crowd.

Senior Ranger badge