Left the world of sales/marketing to raise my 4 energetic boys. I homeschool. I do natural birth. I cook, play piano, scuba dive. I love exploring new places, especially with my family.

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National Parks Junior Ranger Program

Some of our greatest trips as a family have been to our National Parks.  These protected national treasures are a great family trip. We just recently returned from a vacation that included a stop at Yellowstone National Park.  We only had one day to be there so barely got through a quarter of the park, but it was an incredible day.  The geysers, the colors of the minerals, the landscape, the wildlife were all breath-taking.  We saw a huge bull elk using his antlers to pull on some brush right near the side of the road.  Here are a few pictures of our day in Yellowstone.

Yellowstone Old Faithful

Old Faithful Geyser

Birds of Yellowstone

Grand Prismatic Spring

Grand Prismatic Spring

Elk in Yellowstone

Female Elk grazing

  One of the things our kids really love about visiting the national parks is the Junior Ranger Program.  Every national park we have been to has participated in the program.  When we arrive at the park, we check in at an information center and receive the packet for the program.  They usually have different programs depending on the age level of your kids.  The packet has activities and games as well as questions to answer about the park.  There may be other requirements such as attending a talk or going on a hike with a park ranger.

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake

My kids love checking off the requirements as they complete them, learning more about the park as they search for answers or listen to a park ranger talk about what to do when you meet a bear, or the history of the park, or whatever the topic may be.  It is a great learning experience and a lot of fun as well.

Colorado National Park

Mesa Verde

Once the requirements are all completed and signed off, you visit a visitor/information center to turn it in.  The park ranger then presents you child with a Junior Ranger badge.  My kids feel so special when they are presented with their badge. Some places have made a big deal of it announcing to all the visitors in the area about the newest Junior Ranger and present their badge in front of everyone in the area.  Others just congratulate the kids and present it in a quieter ceremony.  Either way, they wear their badge proudly.

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The national parks we have participated in the Junior Ranger program at are Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, Grand Canyon in Arizona, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming/Montana/Idaho; Sequoia National Park in California; and Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. We have also visited Yosemite  (California), Mount Rushmore (South Dakota), Arches National Park (Utah), and Zion National Park (Utah).

Arizona National Park

Grand Canyon

When planning your next family vacation, consider one of the 58 National Parks as a destination or even a stopover on your way to another place.  If you plan to go to more than one in a year, consider buying a National Parks pass.

And if you won’t be able to make it to a National Park in the near future, visit the website with your kids to explore online.  There are also fun activities online to learn more about our parks. You can also be a “WebRanger” at this site.

Have fun enjoying our National treasures!

Other outdoor adventures to enjoy as a family:

Camping at Big Bear Lake

San Diego Botanical Garden

San Elijo Lagoon

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