Waco Mammoth National Monument – Texas

Waco Mammoth National Monument


Completed: January 5, 2019

Senior Friendly

Another National Park Service (NPS) site that was open during the January 2019 government shut down was Waco Mammoth National Monument in central Texas. This is another site that is still being managed by the local government and Baylor University, as arranged when it was named a national monument in 2015.

This program is considered Senior Friendly as the upper age group is given as Ages 13 and up. The three age groups are 5-8, 9-12 and 13 and up. Respectively, the required completed activities for the age groups are 5, 7 and 10.

Because this site has their booklet online I was able to print out several pages in advance of my visit and complete them before arriving. This helped to save time while heading home after being on a road trip for almost two weeks. In advance I completed the word search and a crossword puzzle, both had word banks.

While onsite I went on the tour, on a quiet Saturday morning I was the only one on the tour. Ranger Summer was an excellent tour guide, currently a volunteer and college student with plans to become a NPS Ranger. My favorite part of the tour was learning that two boys discovered the first of the Columbian Mammoth bones while exploring the creek bed. Luckily the families took the large bone to Baylor University in 1968. Those boys, now grown men, still live in the area and at times participate in tours. The building covers the massive bone field with some skeletons exposed and fairly complete. The Columbian Mammoth was much larger than the Wooly Mammoth.


As always I enjoyed the scavenger hunt and interviewing a ranger, both favorite activities of any junior ranger program. Upon completion of the ten activities and review by Ranger Summer I was sworn in as a Junior Ranger. What was unique about this ceremony is my hand was placed on Mammoth tooth (replica), how cool! I received their enhanced Junior Ranger badge depicting their signature Columbian Mammoth.

Click to access WACO-Online-Junior-Ranger-Book-508.pdf

Instagram: @Srjrranger

Fossil Butte National Monument – Wyoming


Fossil Butte National Monument


Senior Ranger

Completed: September 3, 2015

When I arrived at Fossil Butte National Monument I was pleased to find out that they have a Senior Ranger program, always what I prefer to complete. One booklet is used for both the Junior and Senior Ranger program, four age groups are listed. The age groups are; 5-7, 8-11, 12-15 and 16+. As a senior I completed the sections labeled for 16+.

The activities I completed included; Walk through Time, How Big Was Fossil Lake?, Reading the Rocks, Fossils, Fossils Everywhere!, What Is It?, Fossil Preparation, Fossil Collector Biography, A-mazing Fossilization, Species Past and Present, Leafy Thermometers and Rain Gauges, A Scene from Fossil Lake and The National Park Service Mission.

One of the hardest activities was ‘What Is It?’, trying to match the picture in the booklet to specimens in the visitor center took some time and detective skills. The activity of drawing seven specimens into a grid, representing layers in which the fossils would have been found was challenging. This took some concentration to get the correct size and orientation, according to the details given. My favorite activity was using line graphs to determine temperature and climate of this area based on leaf size and leaf edge smoothness. The results showed that the past climate was warmer and wetter.

As you approach the visitor center there is a ‘walking geologic timeline’ that begins in the parking lot and wraps all the way around the outside of the visitor center. The activity titled, Walk Through Time, is based on the information presented along the timeline. Your steps along the way are converted into millions of years, a good way to help you understand geologic time.


After camping in the area I returned the next day with the completed booklet. The volunteer at the desk reviewed the booklet and answered a couple of questions. Senior Rangers receive a very beautiful embroidered patch of a fossil fish.


Dinosaur National Monument – Utah

Junior Ranger
Junior Paleontologist, Senior-friendly

Completed: September 24 – 25, 2013

What a great way to explore Dinosaur National Monument!
Junior Ranger
I completed this book first. It was a fun exploration of the monument. A nice variety of activities. I think the pages that had you identify what is a dinosaur, versus fossils and artifacts were useful. The activities could be completed in a half of day.


Junior Paleontologist
During the two days I worked on the Junior Paleontologist. This is one award that is offered at numerous national park sites that were created specifically because of the fossils. Dinosaur National Monument is one of the sites. The booklet covers information at a number of the parks, however you can complete the activities without visiting the different sites.
It is divided into 3 ages categories; 5 and up, 8 and up and 10 and up. The older age-grouping is represented by a Saber-tooth Cat. With the ages 10 and up designation, this makes it Senior-friendly.
There are some fun, whimsical activities, as well as thoughtful, challenging activities. It even includes some board-style games to play with another person. My husband did also complete this award. As an invertebrate paleontologist he enjoyed the activities.


Another award is also offered at this park, Junior Ranger Night Explorer. It is another award that is offered at multiple parks within the Intermountain Region which highlight the night sky. I did not complete it at this park, but will work on it during my travels and turn it in at a future date. More on that later.