What’s cool about the National Park Service is that the give you shiny badges that say: Junior Park Ranger, all for free! Well, kind of.
Ever since Knife River Indian Village, we have been collecting Junior Ranger badges. For each one, we have to do a free Junior Ranger booklet and get sworn in. It’s simple. I wrote this the day we went to Montezuma’s Castle, and that day we had 28 badges and 7 patches. That’s not a lot compared to our friends the Bloomfields, (full-timers hosting in Death Valley until this spring) who have around 80 or 90 badges, but it’s a start.
Anyway, the books are usually 10-20 pages, and require you to go around the visitor center, or a hike or two, and learn something cool about the park. We try to do the Junior Ranger programs anywhere we go. What’s funny is that we were in Yellowstone for over a month, and we never thought to do one there. “Oh well, this will work,” wrote Pete in the letter he sent us over Christmas. He enclosed two books and two badges. I finished mine on our drive into Petrified Forest. Ella hasn’t finished hers yet, but I’m anxious to get sworn in (over Face Time).
The badges are usually just plastic, or wood (which is cool), but sometimes you can get lucky and find a rare one. My favorite is the Big Hole National Battlefield, or the California State badge, both of which are kept on my right breast pocket, where all my metal ones are.
Ella I both collected them on our bulletin boards, which they went into pretty easily. But we noticed some other kids who had on vests, with all of theirs on display. We started looking for them in Lassen Volcanic National Park. We decided to wait because our other full-time friends were there too, and we weren’t sure if they were going to get one. Both of us looked in every park we went to. Yosemite, Grand Canyon, all the big ones, but they didn’t have them in our size. They were all too small. Finally, in Wupatki National Monument, we found them. That day we did two of the parks, so after Wupatki, we put all of our badges on them and went to Sunset Crater to receive another.
There’s also some other cool books you can pick up. For example, The Arizona State Junior Ranger book is available almost anywhere in AZ. The Junior Paleontologist is available at sites or parks with fossils. You can also turned them in at the marked areas in the book.
Your dog can also do a Bark Ranger program (not available everywhere)!
From Alabama to Wyoming, Junior Ranger badges are everywhere. I highly suggest you check them out, and we will continue to do them. Thanks for reading!