Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument – Arizona


Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Senior Friendly

Completed: August 1, 2014


As a national monument, almost in my background, this is a site I have visited numerous times over the years. A very favorite campground, Bonito, is across the road from the visitor center. I have actually completed this Junior Ranger program twice, March 2013 and August 2014. The first time I completed with my two grandchildren and then on my own. And as I have stated before I learned and experienced something new.

This program is considered Senior Friendly as no age groupings are given, just the direction to complete five or more pages. There are six pages in the booklet. A nice feature of this program is you may turn in your completed packet at either the Sunset Crater Volcano or Wupatki visitor centers. There is a beautiful drive between the two sites which allows you to continue on your trip without returning to the visitor center.

The activities are; Monitoring Our Living Earth, The Great Earth Puzzle, A Place of Cultural Importance, Legend Has It, Excellent Eruptions, Lookin’ at the Lava, Making a Difference, A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words and Sunset Search.

The answers for the first several activities are found in the visitor center displays. A monitor shows current earthquake activity, on my two visits I located recent earthquakes in Alaska, California, and the Tonga Islands.

While walking along the Lava Flow Trail through the Bonito Lava Flow I was able to locate five of the seven features; Sunset Crater Volcano, San Francisco Mountain, Aa lava, Xenolith and a Squeeze-up.

One of my favorite activities when completing Junior Ranger programs is interviewing a park ranger. Ranger Robert told me he had a degree in Field Biology and his favorite place in the park is the O’Leary Trail because it provides a nice overview of the park. On my second visit in March 2014 I combined the last two activities into one by drawing Sunset Search finds.

Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument – Washington

Completed: June 30, 2014

Junior Ranger

This was a return visit to a place I have visited several times in the past, but the first time to complete the Junior Ranger booklet. What also made this visit unique was the perfect weather; clear skies, very little wind and a comfortable temperature. On previous visits the crater has not been completely visible, nor could you see Spirit Lake. The flowers along the way were vibrant.

Royal Beardtongue

Spirit Lake

The booklet list two age groups; 6-9 yrs and 9-12 yrs, however they allow those over the age of 12 to complete the program. I also saw them give out a two-sided paper for kids younger than 6.
In order to receive the certificate and badge you need to attend a Ranger program and complete the booklet. Symbols of a tree for the younger kids and a a volcano for the older kids indicate which activities to complete. The booklet contains a total of seven activities in total.

Windy Ridge

Throughout the day programs are provided. I attended the one about the eruption of Mount St. Helens held outside. Ranger Jim provided a very dynamic talk about the events leading up to the eruption on May 18, 1980. He held the interested of a large, diverse group for 30 minutes while we stood outside the visitor center. His information was interesting and presented to keep everyone engaged. What I remember most was the lack of sophisticated equipment that the geologists had to work with as they were monitoring the volcano before it erupted. They were creating their own crude devices to measure the movement of the mountain.

The information needed to complete the activities can be found on interpretive displays inside and outside the Johnston Ridge Observatory. Between attending a half hour ranger program and completing the booklet the total time would be close to one and one-half hours.

I learned quite a bit completing the booklet. The activity I enjoyed the most was the last page titled “What I Think About Mount St. Helens . . .” Seven statements are provided for you to respond; the coolest thing I saw was . . ., Something new I experienced . . . Each one has you reflect on your experience while visiting this unique monument.

Booklet and badge