Big Bend National Park -Texas

Santa Elena Canyon
image
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
image

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
image

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
image

Fort Davis National Historic Site – Texas

image

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

image

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
image

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
image

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
image

Arizona Trail National Scenic Trail – BLM

image
North Kaiba Trail – Grand Canyon National Park
http://www.aztrail.org/juniorexplorer

Completed: January 19, 2016

Senior Friendly

The Arizona Trail almost runs through my backyard in Tucson, about 10 miles to the east. I have hiked short sections throughout Arizona; the whole trail is over 800 miles and reaches from Mexico to Utah. Hikers, bicyclists and horseback riders are able to cover the entire distance either as a through-trip (taking a long time) or done in sections.
image

The trail passes through private and public land; public lands managed by state and federal agencies. Some of the federal agencies are; Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, and Department of Interior. An important resource to enjoy the trail is the Arizona Trail Organization which can be reached at http://www.aztrail.org.

image

This program has a a very attractive handbook with excellent graphics and detailed information about what you would see along the 800 mile route. I was fortunate to find this booklet at the REI store in Tucson, however the entire handbook can be completed online. The BLM (Bureau of Land Management) provided this Junior Explorer program. It is considered Senior Friendly as no age range is given. With the information provided in the reading the material in this booklet is advanced. With adult help younger children could answer the questions and earn the patch.
image

Another unique part of this program is your answers are submitted online. Once you complete the handbook and submit the answers an attractive patch is mailed to you. I was surprised when my patch arrived within a week. I celebrated by hiking a 3-1/2 mile section, Marsh Station Road to Colossal Cave Mountain Park.
image

But before I earned my patch I had to complete the booklet. The trail for this activity begins at the southern border, the border with Mexico and works north. The page titles are; Arizona-Sonora Borderlands, Following Water: from top to bottom, The Sky Islands, Biotic Communities: along the Arizona Trail, The Gila River, Tracking Felines: on the Arizona Trail, Mogollon Rim, Cream-Filled Cookie:Plate Tectonics, San Francisco Peaks, Anatomy: of a Volcano, The Grand Canyon, Build Your Own Trail:along the Arizona Trail, The Arizona Strip, Create A Sound Map:along the Arizona Trail, Share The Trail: with other trail users!, and More Places: to Play and Learn.

Not all of your answers will be submitted online, some drawing activities are included, as well as a demonstration of Plate Tectonics which you can eat after you are done! There are a couple of charts to complete and time spent listening outside to create a sound map. Only the online answers count towards earning the patch. I found answering all of the required questions nefoe I went online worked much better than The great part about this program is you can complete anywhere, without ever setting foot along the trail. I think if you did do this program without experiencing the trail itself, you would make it a priority to visit Arizona and enjoy some portion of the trail in the future.
image

A Junior Explorer Oath on the back of the handbook provides a certificate for you to complete. And as mentioned before, your attractive patch will arrive shortly just by submitting your answers online.
image

Tuzigoot National Monument – Arizona

image

Tuzigoot National Monument
Arizona

http://www.nos.gov/tuzi

Completed: October 8, 2015

Online: http://www.nps.gov/tuzi/learn/kids

Senior Friendly

A small, but interesting site in Central Arizona highlighting ruins from almost 1,000 years ago. As part of the Verde Valley you cross the Verde River, year-round flow, as you approach this area. The surrounding views are spectacular.

This Junior Ranger Activity Guide is considered Senior Friendly as there are three age groups; turtle symbol for 6-7 years old, sycamore leaf symbol for 8-9 years old, and macaw symbol for 10 years or older.

The activities include; Excavating Your Life, Museum Scavenger Hunt, How many pots can you find?, Then and Now, Searching for Clues, Prehistoric Style, Understanding the Clues, Pueblo Trail, A View from on Top, Tavasci Marsh Trail, Poetry Corner and Share with a Park Ranger…

I had picked up the booklet on a previous visit and was intrigued by the page titled “How many pots can you find?”. The visitor center contains museum-style cabinets full of pots. Counting them took concentration, as I would notice another one hiding under a shelf after moving on. My final count was 52, a number the staff told me was one of several numbers considered an acceptable answer. The discrepancies could be related to what is a pot? Once the count was complete you draw your favorite pot, mine was a corrugated jar, the coils had not been smoothed over creating a nice texture.

Understanding the Clues allows you to study a real archeology report, on the previous page, then use clues to determine the answers. It was helpful to see the diversity of the pottery styles and to appreciate how the differences help you determine the age of a piece of pottery. It reminded me of Antiques Roadshow when they look at an item and can tell the owner when it was made.

Ruins
image

Walking the Pueblo Trail, a hilltop covered in ruins, was beautiful on this October day. Besides enjoying the ruins the surrounding views are stunning. Tuzigoot is set in the Verde Valley, near the Verde River, hilltop mining town of Jerome and within view of the red rocks of Sedona. Sections of ruins were built over time, some as long as 900 years ago.

Staff
image

After walking through the museum and then the ruins I was able to complete the activity guide. After a staff member reviewed the booklet I received the badge. I purchased the patch from the bookstore. The inside back cover of the activity guide contains the Certificate of Achievement.

Booklet, badge, certificate and patch
image

image

Montezuma Castle National Monument – Arizona

image

Montezuma Castle National Monument
Arizona

http://www.nps.gov/moca

Completed: October 7, 2015

Senior Friendly

Online booklet
http://www.nps.gov/moca/learn/kidsyouth/upload/MOCA-6-Up-Web.pdf

Montezuma Castle National Monument includes two locations; the ruins, known as the castle, and a well, a few miles north. The castle is actually a set of ruins built by the Sinagua around 1400 CE (current era), it contained 45-50 rooms. This site was the first place to be named a National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. The well has ruins built into the walls of a sinkhole and a walking trail that connects to the year-round Beaver Creek. Over the years Montezuma Well has always been a favorite place to visit. It is not as popular as Montezuma Castle, but well worth a visit.

This Junior Ranger Activity Guide includes pages for both the castle and the well. It is considered Senior Friendly as there are three age groups; turtle symbol for 6-7 years old, sycamore leaf symbol for 8-9 years old, and macaw symbol for 10 years or older.

This booklet allows you to complete activities towards becoming a Junior Ranger at Montezuma Castle or Montezuma Well or both sites. The age symbols indicate which activities each group should complete. The activities include; Explore the Museum, Where would you build?, Getting Around, Knowing your Neighbors, Living at theWell, That’s a lot of water!, Nowhere Else on Earth, Surface Water: Swallet, Outlet, & Ditch, Sit, Look & Listen, Poetry Corner, and Share with a Park Ranger. . .
Montezuma Well
image

The museum at the Visitor Center had the answers for the crossword puzzle titled Explore the Museum. I learned about the different Native American tribes that called this area home. I appreciated the information provided about using current terminology to identify timekeeping by archeologists. CE, Common Era, is now used in place of A.D. and BCE, Before Common Era, in place of B.C.

Math skills were needed to complete the Getting Around page, this activity had you calculate how long it would take you to walk to Phoenix from the Verde Valley. Based on my calculations it would take me at least 12 days to walk the 125 miles.

Once at Montezuma Well the activity Living at the Well has you collect dates at the different kinds of homes lived in over the years, then calculate how old is the oldest house at the well, almost 1000 years. Nowhere Else on Earth has you identify the unique plants and animals, in this case very small specimens.

For the Poetry Corner I wrote a cinquain-style poem about the well.
Well
Deep, Living
Breathe, Evaporate, Cool
Relaxing place to be
Sinkhole
Booklet & badges
image
Before leaving the Montezuma Well I had the ranger on site review what I had done, he then presented me with a colorful button as their Junior Ranger badge. Back at Montezuma Castle the booklet was reviewed and the standard badge was presented. The inside back cover of the activity guide contains the Certificate of Achievement.
image

Hovenweep National Monument – Utah

image

Hovenweep National Monument

http://www.nps.gov/hove

Completed: September 26, 2015

Online booklet:
http://www.nps.gov/hove/planyourvisit/upload/Hovenweep_JrRanger_forPress.pdf

Another favorite site, and one that is a bit off the beaten path, but well worth a visit. There is a visitor center and campground, other visitor services are an hour away, so plan accordingly. There are several ruin locations besides the main area, which the staff at the visitor center will provide directions. The 1-1/2 mile Ruins Trail. From the visitor center or campground is an excellent hike which takes you past numerous ruins.

Even though this is not considered Senior Friendly as an upper age limit is given, however the staff was encouraging of this Senior. There are three ages groupings; ages 6 and under, ages 7 to 9, and ages 10 to 12.

To earn the award each person needs to hike at least one trail and complete the required number of activities based on the age grouping. The youngest age group completes 3 activities and is designated by a paint pot design. The middle age group completes 4 and 3 must be marked with the ruin symbol and the oldest age group completes 5 activities and 3 are marked with the arrowhead symbol.

Boulder Ruins
image

Activities include; Welcome (hike), Design your own Jar, Maze, Connect the Dots, Bingo!, What’s wrong with this picture?, Word Search, Crack the Code,True or False?, Crossword – Protect the Past, and Observations.

By far, my favorite activity was the hike along the Ruins Trail. These ruins are set along the rim and down inside the canyon you hike which allows for some up close views. The trail has a few ups and downs, but is easy to complete. The last page in the booklet, Observations, has you record things you heard, saw and smelled along the hike. The weather was great the morning I hiked. I also enjoyed decorating an ola, water jar, using colored pencils.

image

The True or False? page had 12 statements that you could determine whether they were true or not by looking at the park brochure and signs in the visitor center. I learned that the ruins built as towers were only occupied for a short time, compared to how long the ancestral Puebloans lived in this area. The Crossword-Protect the Past tested your knowledge about protecting archeological sites, always a good reminder.

I took my completed booklet to the visitor center and had it checked by a staff member. After signing my certificate I was awarded with the enhanced Junior Ranger badge.

image

Natural Bridges National Monument – Utah

image
Natural Bridges National Monument

http://www.nps.gov/nabr

Completed: September 25, 2015

Senior Friendly

Online booklet:
http://www.nps.gov/nabr/learn/kidsyouth/upload/JR-RANGER-BOOK-NON-EDIT.pdf

Another return visit to this beautiful site, and an opportunity to complete their Junior Ranger program. Even though we arrived right after lunch the campground was already Full. With only 12 camping sites this campground always fills early, especially in the Fall. But, the bridges are always there to be seen by driving the scenic road or hiking.

This program is considered Senior Friendly as there are 3 age groups and no upper age limit is given. The three age groups are; Modest Mouse for ages 4-6, Rockin’ Raven for ages 7-9, and Cool Coyote for ages 10 and up.

To complete the program you need watch the park video or attend a ranger program and complete activities according to your age group; 3 activities for Modest Mouse, 4 activities for Rockin’ Raven, and 5 activities for Cool Coyote.

The activities include; Take a Hike!, Bridges Bingo, Desert Dwellers Word Scramble, Bridge Formation:Spanning Time, What’s Wrong? What’s Right?, Cryptic Crust, Creative Corner, Canyon Criss-Cross, Make the Connection, Watch Your Step!, Rock Art Adventure and Interview a Ranger.

This was a fun bingo activity, specific objects were not given, but more activity-based. Squares included; find 3 green things, see some rock art, smell a tree, feel some sandstone are some of the examples. The word scramble was a great learning experience. The scrambled word was given at the end of a statement about plants and animals found in this park.

Certificate Choices
image

Bridge Formation:Spanning Time provides a page of information about how bridges are formed, then the second page has you put in order 6 sketches showing the sequence. Creative Corner had you write a poem in cinquain format; not rhyming, but a short 5 line poem using phrases to describe something you experienced while at the park. The subject of mine was sky.

The most involved activity was the Canyon Criss-Cross, a crossword puzzle with 30 words. Help with the answers could be found in the park brochure, exhibits and in the park video. I did need to get some additional help from a ranger, who was happy to help. My Rock Art Adventure depicted birdwatching, a favorite activity while I am traveling.

As always I enjoyed learning more about this beautiful park site. After the ranger checked my booklet and awarded me their enhanced badge I was given a choice of the most attractive certificates of any Junior Ranger program I have completed.

image

Canyonlands National Park – Utah

image

Canyonlands National Park

http://www.nps.gov/cany

Completed: September 24, 2015

This national park is very large and spread out over several districts. I visited Islands in the Sky and Needles Districts on this trip. While visiting Islands in the Sky area I picked up the Junior Ranger booklet to begin working on the activities. A couple of days later I had the booklet reviewed while visiting the Needles area.

This program is considered Senior Friendly as there are 3 ages groups and the oldest does not have an upper age limit. The groups are; Leapin’ Lizard ages 5-7, Rowdy Rabbit ages 8 – 10 and Bouncin’ Bighorn ages 11 and up.

To complete the program you are to complete the activities for the specified age group; at least 4 for the first age group, at least 5 for the middle age group and at least 6 for the upper age group, watch the the park video, attend a ranger program or pick up litter and have a ranger check the booklet.

Islands in the Sky
image

The activities include; Ready, Set…Hike!, Where in the World, Canyonlands Crypto, Connect the Dots, Star Search, State of Erosion, Layering Logic, Protecting Our Park, Who Am I?, The Ancient Ones, Cowboy Maze, Park Poetry, Discovery Walk Bingo, Puzzling Plants Crossword, and Our National Parks.

Canyonlands Crypto helps you understand the importance of staying on trails to protect the unique and fragile soil in the SouthWest. By using a word back you fill in words in a paragraph that describes cryptobiotic soil. State of Erosion has you identify pictures of different types of landforms and use the park map to find names that match four landforms found in the park.

Ancient Puebloan Granary
image

For Park Poetry you are to write a cinquain poem about something you saw in Canyonlands. This is a simple style of poem that does not have to rhyme, but describes a subject you chose. I wrote about the vistas, which are vast and beautiful. Discovery Walk Bingo is always a great way to keep you looking as you travel through the park. Instead of finding specific animals, plants or objects the squares ask you to write or draw ‘something’. Something – soft, prickly, beautiful, you smell and 12 other description.

The Puzzling Plants Crossword had a twist from other crossword puzzles, the words in the word bank were anagrams (letters mixed up). So besides figuring out the answer to the crossword statement you had to unscramble the letters. The statements gave good information about plants to this unique environment.

After spending a couple of days in the area I had a ranger check my booklet while visiting the Needles District. The ranger signed the Certificate of Completion in the back and the booklet and awarded me the badge.

Booklet & Badge
image

Arches National Park – Utah

image

Arches National Park

http://www.nps.gov/arch

Completed: September 23, 2015

Senior Friendly

Booklet Online: http://www.nps.gov/arch/planyourvisit/upload/ArchesJrRanger.pdf

I picked up the Junior Ranger Program booklet as I entered the park the first day I arrived in the area. There are no age requirements so it is considered Senior Friendly. Inside the front cover the instructions indicate that you should attend a ranger program or watch the park movie, pick up some letter, complete 3 starred activities plus one additional activity.

The activities are; A Place of Your Own, Draw a picture of the place you chose, Arches Rocks, What They Leave Behind, Rock Art Record, Plant Pursuit, and I Was Wondering.

Overall the this Junior Ranger program is fairly easy to complete within a day’s visit. I watched the park movie and learned that there are over 2000 arches within the park, the greatest concentration on Earth. Later, from a ranger we learned that most of the arches have been discovered since the 1980s.

For A Place of Your Own I chose The Windows area to identify 3 reasons why it is my favorite place; towering rock walls, many colors and a variety of geologic formations. I drew a picture of the wall of rocks up behind the visitor center. I was surprised at the variety of rock types and colors which I learned when I completed Arches Rocks.

image

Other activities involved animal tracks, rock art, and plants. The final activity had you come up with a couple of questions that you thought about while visiting the park, and two things to research after your visit. When I turned in my booklet for review by the ranger he had me ask the questions and we had a very nice discussion. I really liked having this interaction with the ranger. The ranger signed my certificate of completion and issued an enhanced badge.

image