Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument – Utah

Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument

Junior Scientist

Completed: May 20, 2016

The beauty of this monument is incredible, expansive and memorable. Get Outside and explore this unique landscape! My few photos do not do justice to this landmass, however the diversity of this monument is well represented in the Junior Scientist Activity Booklet.

When I completed the program in 2016 this Bureau of Land Management (BLM) National Monument was much larger than it is as I write this blog. And, as I recently drove through the area I was saddened to realize this monument, which was shrunk in size in early 2018, had been reduced in areas that were previously readily accessible from major roadways . I only hope that one day, soon, the original boundaries can restored.

This program does have an upper age limit printed in the booklet, however I was provided the booklet and badge readily. To become a Junior Scientist you need to;
Watch the “Traces in Time” video, available at several of their visitor centers.
6-8 years old completes 3 or more activities, 9-12 years old completes 5 or more activities.
Activities include;
Visitor Center Scavenger Hunt, Climbing the Grand Staircase, Paleontology Tool Hunt, Creating a Landscape, Top-Toe through the Crypto, Animal Tracks, Connecting to the Past, Human History, Leave No Trace, and Journal.

The Visitor Center Scavenger Hunt can be completed by visiting the four visitor centers and identifying each center’s theme and answer one question. During this one trip I was able to visit all four sites so I was able to complete all of the activities. As an adult, if you plan to complete this program, plan to visit all four visitor centers – well worth the views along the way!

Creating a Landscape was a drawing activity to illustrate how geology, through deposition and erosion, creates different landscape. My basic sketch depicted a rain cloud over the slick rock. I enjoyed Animal Tracks which included a story with animal tracks embedded, you had to match the animal’s tracks to the animal in the story.

Besides highlighting geology and biology the booklet includes great activities to learn about cryptobiotic soil, paleontology, archeology and environmental impact. The diversity of this monument is well represented in these activities. After exploring Grand Staircase- Escalante National Monument I completed all of the activities on the Junior Scientist Activity Booklet I received the badge at the Escalante Visitor Center.

Rainbow Bridge National Monument – Utah


Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Completed: May 18, 2016

Senior Friendly


In 2014 I visited Rainbow Bridge NM by boat. The ride up Lake Powell to the mouth of the canyon was enjoyable, it was late May and being on the water made it comfortable on a hot day. Once the boat turned into the canyon it felt like a maze of water and rock walls, at the dock it opens up a bit, but the natural bridge remained hidden. From the boat dock you hike to the bridge, currently about 1 mile, each way. In a short distance you can see the bridge, no pictures can describe the grandeur of this natural geologic feature. A hike of 16 -18 miles one way, across the Navajo Nation (permit required), is the only other way to reach the bridge. The boat tour begins at Wahweap Marina, a short distance from the Glen Canyon Dam and Page, AZ.

Prior to visiting Glen Canyon NRA in 2016, when I downloaded and printed their Junior Ranger booklet, I discovered that the last few pages included the program for Rainbow Bridge NM. While writing this post I discovered that the link listed above is a different booklet. It appears to be relatively simple, as the booklet I completed, but the activities are different. For either booklet you can complete the Junior Ranger program without visiting the bridge, however if you aren’t able to visit during your visit I hope in the future you can see this beautiful natural bridge.

The Rainbow Bridge program I completed, at the back of the Glen Canyon NRA booklet, has no age groupings and at least 2 activities are to be completed. The booklet linked above does have age groupings and someone 12 or older is to complete all five activities. Both booklet requirements allow this program to be considered Senior Friendly.

The activities in the booklet I completed are; Forming Rainbow Bridge, Rainbow Bridge National Monument (4 questions), and Rainbow Bridge Sign Scramble. Matching a description to four small pictures helps you understand how natural bridges are formed. The answers to the four questions in the activity titled Rainbow Bridge National Monument can be learned from a park ranger, tour guide or park brochure (available online). I enjoyed the Sign Scramble, it provided a fun way to learn more about the bridge.

Once I completed the booklet I took it to the Carl Hayden Visitor Center at Glen Canyon Dam, unfortunately the park rangers were in a training session, but the tour staff for the dam gave me the Junior Ranger badge. The bridge is featured on this enhanced badge.

*The booklet provided from this link is different from the one described in this post.


Glen Canyon National Recreation Area – Arizona & Utah


Hanging Gardens

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Arizona & Utah

Completed: May 17, 2016

Senior Friendly


Most of us know Glen Canyon National Recreation Area as Lake Powell, straddling Arizona and Utah. Over the years I have visited many the of sites within their 1.25 million acres, but this is the first time I worked on the Junior Ranger Program. It was a great way to understand the diversity of the park. Besides having lots of water, there are also locations which feature wildlife, history, paleontology and archaeology.


Lees Ferry

This program is considered Senior Friendly as there is no upper age limit. Three ages groupings with a minimum number of activities for each range is provided. The groupings are; ages 6 to 8 complete 3 activities, ages 9 to 11 complete 5 activities and ages 12 and up complete 7 activities.

Glen Canyon NRA activities include; The Best Way to Care for the Land, From Fast Swimming to Fossilized, Crossing the Mighty Colorado – in the 1800s, Crossing the Mighty Colorado – Today, Who Needs Water, Take an Artistic Break, The Amaze-ing Colorado River Watershed, One Glen Canyon, Many Voices, Desert Dwellers, Power and the River, Ancient Ones if Glen Canyon, Experience Your America! and Junior Ranger Participation Log.

In the middle of the booklet is the Junior Ranger Participation Log, something I have not seen very often in booklet, but a good idea to keep track of the different activities completed. My log included camping at Hite where we say Great Blue Herons roosting on the cliff across the river. Another activity was hiking through the Lees Ferry Historic District. I sketched the old boiler I saw for Take an Artistic Break activity. This is a great place to see birds and lizards.


Desert Spiny Lizard

One Glen Canyon, Many Voices has you match 9 pictures of people you could find within the recreation area; boaters, dam workers, Native Americans, ranchers and park rangers are a few examples. The 9 different Desert Dwellers, a bingo-style activity, presents different adaptations that plants and animals use to thrive in this environment. As you see something that matches that adaptation you are to draw that plant or animal. For Big Ears I saw a Black-tailed Jackrabbit and drew the ears, for Thermoregulation I saw several lizards and did a quick sketch of a lizard.

A number of the activities were simple enough that the the younger age groups will be able to easily complete their minimum requirement. Overall the booklet had a good diversity of activities to help you appreciate this very large park site. I took the completed booklet to the Carl Hayden Visitor Center at the Glen Canyon Dam to be reviewed. The day I was there the park staff was at training, so the tour staff for the dam gave me my Junior Ranger badge. No review or pledge, this time.



Hovenweep National Monument – Utah


Hovenweep National Monument

Completed: September 26, 2015

Online booklet:

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

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.


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.


Natural Bridges National Monument – Utah

Natural Bridges National Monument

Completed: September 25, 2015

Senior Friendly

Online booklet:

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

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.


Canyonlands National Park – Utah


Canyonlands National Park

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

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

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

Arches National Park – Utah


Arches National Park

Completed: September 23, 2015

Senior Friendly

Booklet Online:

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.


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.


Dinosaur National Monument – Utah & Colorado

Dinosaur National Monument

Completed: September 21, 2015

Booklet online:

On a previous visit to this site I completed the Junior Paleontologist program.

The activities are; What Can You Find at Dinosaur?, What is Important to Protect?, How Did the Fossils Get Here?, Can You Find the Skull?, What Was That For?, What Do Dinosaur Names Tell Us?, Can You Visit Without a Trace?, Animal Tracks Guide, What Do Animal Tracks Tell Us?, What Have You Discovered?, Why Should Echo Park Be Protected?, Who Lived Here First?, How Did Homesteaders Survive?, and How Will You Explore, Learn & Protect as a Junior Ranger?

Most of the activities are fairly easy to complete, but interesting. I enjoyed translating the dinosaur names from Latin to English for the activity “What Do Dinosaur Names Tell Us? The page for Animal Tracks Guide was useful, as this is frequently needed for many Junior Ranger programs, and provided good drawings and details of nine different animals. I observed some prints near the campground, after sketching them I was able to use the guide to identify them as rabbit prints.

I like to try my hand at drawing and carry colored pencils with me as I travel. I completed a drawing of the rocks across the river from the campground for What Have You Discovered? activity. There were many layers and levels to include in the picture. The simple crossword was based on homesteading terms, specifically for the Josie Bassett Morris homestead within the park. The maze for Can You Visit Without a Trace? was very well designed. Besides finding your way through the maze, you had to make decisions to avoid harming the environment by following the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace.

Quarry Exhibit Hall

After visiting the Quarry Exhibit Hall on my last morning to finish the booklet I turned it in at the visitor center. A ranger reviewed the booklet, had me recite the pledge and awarded me the enhanced Junior Ranger badge.

Booklet & Badge

Kodachrome Basin State Park – Utah


Kodachrome State Park

Completed: August 30, 2015

Senior Friendly

I normally complete the Junior Ranger programs within the National Park system, however I do complete ones within state parks. During a recent trip through Utah I camped at Kodachrome State Park. The rock formations are spectacular, and change throughout the day as the light changes.

When I entered the park an eight page map and guide in newspaper format. Besides providing maps of the park and valuable information it includes two full pages of activities for their Junior Ranger program. No age ranges are given, even though it is designed for the younger crowd, so it is considered Senior Friendly. The program is very basic and easy to complete, young and older. The activities included; Dot-To-Dot, Litter Pick-up, Wildlife Identification and Geology Word Search.

I enjoyed the Wildlife Identification, the pictures included were helpful for animals I had been seeing on our trip. I walked the camping area twice looking for litter, I found very little litter which was great.

This was a quick and easy Junior Ranger program in a beautiful location, gave me more time to enjoy the park. As we left the park the next morning the ranger reviewed the completed activities, signed the certificate within the paper and presented me with a badge. This badge is unique to Kodachrome Basin State Park, lots of state parks provide one badge for the whole state.

Capitol Reef National Park – Utah

Capitol Reef National Park
Torrey, UT

Completed: August 30, 2015

Senior Friendly

Capitol Reef is a very favorite NPS site, a place I have visited numerous times over the years since my first visit in 1975. However, until this visit I had not completed the Junior Ranger program. The first goal of this visit was to get a campsite. Our last visit in October 2012 we arrived by 4 PM and missed getting the last campsite. Today we arrived by 2:30 and had no trouble getting a space – yeah! Once we had a campsite I went to the Visitor Center to pick up the Junior Ranger Activity Book.

The booklet gives two age ranges; 8 years or younger and 9 years or older. This program is Senior Friendly as there is no upper age limit. To qualify for the award the follow activities need to be completed: Ranger Interview or Attend A Ranger Program, Responsible Rangers, A Clean and Safe Park, and National Park Sites for both age groups. For the older age group 3 of the 4 following activities need to be completed; Orchard Walk, What’s In A Name, Heritage Rocks and Deer are Wild.

I completed all of the required plus a few additional. The Ranger program by Ranger Nick was excellent. It was titled “Life Within the Layers”, presenting the four primary types of fossils that are found within the park. I appreciated that he gave out a handout of the geologic layers, this made it easy to follow the information he provided. After discussing the fossils he had a sample of each to pass around; swim smears in the Moenkopi formation, petrified wood and roots in the Chinle formation, fern leaf and oyster shell, both during the Cretaceous period.

Another interesting activity was looking at the petroglyphs at a pullout to the east of the visitor center. The variety and size of the images leaves so many unanswered questions, but interesting to view.


A unique feature of Capitol Reef is the Fruita district, just beyond the visitor center and along the 10 mile Scenic Drive. Fro. The early pioneer days there are orchards that the park service have maintained and are open to the public for UPick. The orchards that are available for picking have a donation box and scale for you to determine the price. We enjoyed some fresh picked apples for dinner.

Fried Apples

Once I completed the required activites I returned to the visitor center. A very personable SCA staff member reviewed my booklet and awarded me the enhance badge and attractive patch.

Booklet, badge & patch