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.

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park – Colorado

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Colorado

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

Completed: June 23, 2016

Senior Friendly

Be prepared for spectacular views of a river flowing – down in a narrow canyon. There is so much to see and do in Colorado and easy to bypass this park -Don’t! Do turn off the highway and come explore, both the North and South Rim.

Before I arrived at the South Rim Visitor Center I had stopped at the Curecanti National Recreation Area, just east on US 50, and picked up a Junior Ranger Activity Book for Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP. I completed the booklet by driving the road along the rim and stopping at several overlooks. When I turned in the completed booklet I learned I had been given the booklet for the youngest crowd (designed for ages 4 – 6), however the staff awarded me the Junior Ranger badge. On my next visit I’ll complete the more advanced program.

The booklet I completed had five activities, and four had to be completed to earn the badge.
The activities are; Draw the Black Canyon!, Are you my Mother?, Explore the Wild Inner Canyon!, Who lives Here? and Tic-Tac-Toe! As with other basic Junior Ranger programs I enjoyed this booklet, especially taking time to work on Draw the Black Canyon.

Are you my Mother? had you match a picture of the young with an adult animal, like a caterpillar with a butterfly. The nine squares for Tic-Tac-Toe were fairly easy to complete three in a row, some of the activities that I completed were; having a picnic, spot a soaring bird, visit two overlooks, smell a sagebrush and take a picture, as well as other activities.

Ranger Amy was enthusiastic in reviewing my booklet, signing the certificate on the back of the booklet and issuing my enhance wooden Junior Ranger badge. The badge depicts steep canyon walls and the Gunnison River.

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.

Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site – Arizona

Visitor Center

Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site
Arizona

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

Completed: April 8, 2017

Senior Friendly

https://www.nps.gov/hutr/learn/kidsyouth/upload/Junior%20Ranger%20for%20Website-2.pdf

A visit to Hubbell Trading Post NHS is a step back in time, a time when this trading post would have been bustling with locals, brought by horse to trade their goods for supplies. This site has been active since 1878, and still serves the local Navajos as a place to buy goods , as well as trade or sell their crafts. You can walk into the trading post, buy some of the traditional items, such as blue cornmeal, hand-woven rugs and exquisite jewelry, as well as modern snacks and drinks. There are not a lot of buildings open to visit, without being on a tour, but the grounds are relaxing to stroll through.

The visitor center is along the road into the site and has some interesting displays. I picked up the booklet from the ranger on duty. The downloadable booklet linked above is a different booklet, it has more activities with better graphics. Both booklets only require completing four activities and neither give an upper, or lower age.

Stone Hogan

I completed all four activities; Visitor Center Facts, Matching Terms, Cross Number Puzzle and Navajo Rug. As simple as this booklet seemed to be, I have to say finding some of the answers was challenging. It caused me to read the displays very carefully. I really enjoyed the Cross Number Puzzle, using only numbers to fill in the grids was unique. Coloring the Navajo rug was fun.

It probably took about an hour to complete the booklet I received. Having to complete only four activities, also in the new booklet will probably just take an hour, as well. The ranger reviewed my answers, helped me with a few of the questions , then gave me a standard Junior Ranger badge.

Petrified Forest National Park – Arizona

Petrified Forest National Park
Arizona
http://www.nps.gov/pefo/imdex.htm

Completed: April 8, 2017

https://www.nps.gov/pefo/learn/kidsyouth/upload/JrRangerBook2017-ndd.pdf

Senior Friendly

You won’t just find beautiful petrified wood as you explore this park, you’ll also find unique buildings, remnants of Route 66, as well as dinosaur bones. Hopefully, you can drive the entire park, south to north, or reverse. Plan to stop and explore along the way, there are great views and short hikes to enjoy.

On a prior visit I had picked up a Junior Ranger booklet and worked on it before returning for this visit. Since picking up the booklet a new, with very nice and colorful graphics, booklet was issued. As I had completed the required number of activities listed in the new booklet I was awarded the Junior Ranger badge.

This program is Senior Friendly as no upper age limit is given. The age groupings and requirements are; 6 years or younger complete at least 3 activities, ages 7 to 10 complete at 5 activities and ages 11 or older complete at least 7 activities.

The twelve activities are; Experience Your America, Wildlife Watch, Archeology, Petrified Forest Crossword, Trail Explorer, Animal Adaptations, How Old Are These Things?, When We Left Home, No Bones About It, Petrified Wood Detective, Even More Spectacular, and Jr. Ranger Field Notes. I always appreciate when there are more activities than required for the upper age group, so I can pick and choose.

A unique feature of this program are the icons that can be found on park signs that match activities in the booklet. This is a big help as you travel and stop at the many interesting places, it alerts you to find a matching activity. I hope other parks add this feature to link their Junior Ranger activities to park signs.

As usual I enjoyed Wildlife Watch, as I find being alert for the local animals and their signs keeps it interesting while you are in a park. It makes you focus on what is out there, not just the activities in the booklet. On this trip I only saw Ravens and Lizards, I hope on a future visit to see Pronghorns. No Bones About It was a great activity while visiting the Rainbow Forest Museum, at the south end of the park, and use the information displayed to answer the questions.

Petrified wood is the reason to visit this park and Petrified Wood Detective allows you to get up and personal with a piece of wood and record what it feels like and the colors in the wood. Of course, while visiting the park it is OK to touch the wood, but not to remove it. As you enter and exit the park a ranger will talk to you about leaving all petrified wood in place. But, while out hiking in the park, spend time looking and touching the wide variety of textures and colors.

While driving the tour route I finished the booklet and stopped at the Painted Desert Inn, a beautiful building constructed with petrified wood in the early 1920s. The murals painted inside the rooms are gorgeous and well worth stopping to see. The ranger on duty reviewed my booklet, gave me a copy of the new booklet, had me recite the oath and awarded me their attractive enhance badge. The badge is shiny and depicts a landscape with a rising sun with petrified wood in the foreground. So much to see, get out and explore!

 

 

Navajo National Monument – Arizona

Betakin Ruin

Navajo National Monument
Arizona

http://www.nps.gov/nava/inde.htm

Completed: June 24, 2016

Senior Friendly

I love this park! I think the remoteness and lack of developed tourist services keep it special. Camping has been free during our many visits. The campground is near the visitor center and has a variety of campsites, the bathroom has running water with flush toilets. Water is available, but no hook ups. Oh, and the ruins associated with this park are wonderful, too. We’ve hiked to two of the three main ruins.

No age groupings are given, nor any minimum activities to complete. The program is basic and can be completed during a brief visit, if that is all the time you have. Activities are; Your Choice (Video, Hike or Ranger-led hike), Pottery for Every Day, Word Find, Leave no Trace, and Design Your Own Cliff Dwelling.

Spiderwort

I hiked the Sandal Trail, which is self-guiding and leaves from the back of the visitor center. This walks over slick rock and provides views of the Betakin Ruin. A daily ranger-led hike will take you down to the ruin. The Sandal Trail takes about a half hour and has interpretive signs along the way. Besides seeing paintbrush and penstemon blooming I heard the trill of a broad-tailed hummingbird.

Pottery for Every Day activity has you explore the museum for information about different types of pottery, then create your own design on a blank pot outline. The Word Search was more of a challenge than usual, many of the words were Native American, especially the Hopi words. A final activity allows you to Design Your Own Cliff Dwelling, I’m not sure I drew anything too creative.

Campground Sunset

The ranger on duty reviewed my booklet, issued the oath and gave me the standard Junior Ranger badge. This will not be my last visit to Navajo, I’ll be back to enjoy the flowers, sunsets and views!

 

Mammoth Cave National Park – Kentucky

Dixon Cave

Mammoth Cave National Park
Kentucky

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

Completed: August 11, 2016

Senior Friendly

I completed Mammoth Cave National Park’s Junior Ranger program during the NPS Centennial Year, 2016. During this year Kentucky NPS sites offered a special award, a patch, if you completed visits to all five of their park sites. Along with this park we also visited; Abraham Lincoln Birthplace NHP, Big South Fork NRRA, Cumberland Gap NHP and Fort Heiman/Fort Donelson NB.

This is a park site we had visited several times in the past, but had never taken the time to complete their program. Due to our travel schedule we were not able take a cave tour, luckily the Junior Ranger program can be completed without taking a cave tour. We were able to explore several trails while in the area.

This program is Senior Friendly, as there are four age groupings, and the upper age group is listed as Ages 12 & up. Their requirements for each age group is listed as Bat Points, each activity earns you one to two bat points and there are 28 different activities. The four age groupings and the required bat points are; Ages 4-5 – Collect 5, Ages 6-8 – Collect 9, Ages 9-11 – Collect 12 and Ages 12 & up – Collect 15 Bat Points.

The activities are; Put Your Ranger Hat On, Arrowhead Challenge, Decode Your Mission, Junior Researcher, Invent a New Cave Critter, Humans & Bats, Trog Word Search, A-maze-ing Cave Exploration, Let’s Go Caving, What’s Wrong With This Picture?, Caving Through Time, Karst-Word Puzzle, Rock Around the Park, Fossilmania, Tick-Tock, Drip-Drop, A Natural Menu, Watchable Wildlife, Animal Scramble, Nature Scavenger Hunt, Notebook Mix-Up, Early Guides of Mammoth Cave, Making Money from Dirt, Are We There Yet?, A Green Visitor Center and A Home To Be Proud Of.

That’s a lot of activities, what I like about this program is the variety of activities, which add up to 39 possible Bat Points. I also think the names of the activities are very well done, intriguing which led me to complete all but two of the activities. Most of the activities were fairly simple, there is a description or information given and then a short activity to complete.

Probably my favorite activities were either based on history, Caving Through Time and Making Money From Dirt, or on geology, Karst-World Puzzle, Rock Around the Park and Fossilmania. I always enjoy completing the scavenger hunt activities, including this one. The Nature Scavenger Hunt had 24 squares of primarily plants and animals. Because we hiked several trails in the park I located quite a few of the items. For the “Free Space! Draw Your Own” I drew a cicada, in August and on a hot day, they could be heard and their shells were found on the ground.

The ranger in the visitor center reviewed my booklet and awarded the enhanced Junior Ranger badge, featuring two cave explorers standing at the mouth of a cave.

 

Glacier National Park – Montana

Two Medicine Lake

Glacier National Park
Montana

http://www.np.gov/glac/index.htm

Completed: June 17, 2016

Senior Friendly

Be prepared to be amazed – the views, the trails, the lakes, the campgrounds and the plants and animals are all there for your enjoyment. Glacier National Park is big! I have been fortunate to be able to enjoy all sections; west, southeast, east and even a north section when I visited Goat Haunt in 2012. To easily get to Goat Haunt you take a boat tour from Waterton National Park, in Canada. Wherever you find yourself in Glacier – take a deep breath* and take it all in. Their Junior Ranger provides you an opportunity to learn about and experience this spectacular park.

Wild Clematis

This program is Senior Friendly as no age groupings are given. This booklet does separate younger kids activities, from older ones, by designating a bear icon on pages for the younger set and an eagle icon for the older kids. Two activities, The National Park Service and the final activity of the Ranger-led activity or Talk to A Ranger, are required of everyone. Completing at five additional activities, your choice, are required to earn this badge.

Activities include; The National Park Service, Wilderness, Leave No Trace, Native Names, Habitats Are Homes, Up, Up and Away?, Moving Through Glacier’s History, See America First, Making Peace, Four Nations Working Together, Disappearing Glaciers, Geology Hunt, Wise About Wildlife, Living Lightly and Attend a Ranger-led program or Talk to a Ranger.

The activity Native Names highlights the rich history of the region before European settlers arrived. As you travel through the park you will find names that honor the Native Americans which called this land home, such as; Two Medicine, Running Eagle and Chief Mountain. Up, Up and Away? does an excellent job giving background information about climate change. It provides an opportunity by having you write a short paragraph to explain how climate change could impact one of three animals, snowshoe hare, mountain goat or bull trout, found in the park.

Columbian Ground Squirrel

Four Nations Working Together has you indicate on a map of the nations and their flags, their location in this area; Canada, Flathead Nation, United States and Blackfeet Indian Nation. As you travel through Glacier National Park the rocks tell you so much about what you see, Geology Hunt has you identify unique features and list where you saw it in the park. The bright blue-green water we saw along the Middle Fork of the Flathead River is created by rocks crushed by glaciers creating glacial flour. We also saw Horns, narrow rock pyramid peaks carved by glaciers, along US 2, SE of West Glacier as we drove over to Two Medicine.

Sego Lily

While camping at Two Medicine campground I finished the activities and had the booklet reviewed by Ranger Megan. I appreciated her review and discussion about my answers. She then issued the oath and the standard Junior Ranger badge. Every visit to this park brings new views, different weather, as well as a wide variety of plants and animals. I have never been disappointed when I visit, and as soon as I am leaving I am wondering when I’ll return.

*  As I write this, September 2017, major fires are burning around and in this park.