How to Participate in the Junior Ranger Program at National Parks

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Whenever we visit a national park, my kids want to participate in the Junior Ranger Program. To participate, they pick up a book from a ranger, typically at the visitor center. The booklet has center activities for them to complete. Depending on the park, they can earn a badge or patch and a certificate once the are “sworn in” as official junior rangers of that park.

How to Participate in the Junior Ranger Program at National Parks

How much does the Junior Ranger Program cost?

This program is typically free. We have encountered a couple of parks, including Yellowstone, where there was a small charge of $5 or less for the booklet.

How old do kids need to be to participate?

Most parks have books that focus on ages 5 to 13. However, they typically allow younger children to participate with the help of a parent and some offer special preschool packets for younger ranger. I have seen older teens participating as well. Certain parks even have a “not so junior” ranger program and allow seniors to get in on the fun.

Which parks participate in the Junior Ranger program?

The program is also available at national parks and national monuments, some historical sites, and a few state parks as well. It never hurts to ask!

What activities are involved?

Kids complete certain activities during a park visit based on their age level. Typically, older kids will have extra or more complex activities than the younger ones. Some activities requires exploring the park or visitor center. Some activities are simple like words finds or crosswords. At certain parks, you may be asked to attend a ranger program as one of the requirements. You need at least several hours in the park to complete and enjoy the junior ranger program, but spending at least a full day or more is ideal. Once complete, kids will need to share their answers with a park ranger. So you’ll have to head back to the visitor center before you leave the park.

Related:  Kid Friendly National Parks and Monuments in Arizona

How to Participate in the Junior Ranger Program at National Parks

13 thoughts on “How to Participate in the Junior Ranger Program at National Parks”

  1. I have been to a number of national parks there in US. Love them especially the Yellow Stone National park. You have provided some great information on ranger programs there. Great way for kids to engage with the nature.

  2. This is such a great idea. When we lived in CO we hiked all the time and my kids sometimes needed a little motivation like this.

  3. I never knew they had a program like this! I would have loved something like this when I was a kid and I know my kids will love this. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Oh wow I didn’t know the Junior Ranger Program existed! This sounds like a fantastic program for kids at National Parks. Thanks so much for sharing all the details!

  5. We never knew about the junior ranger program until we went to Zion. Living in AZ, we had been to the Grand Canyon amongst other national parks and monuments but never realized they had this amazing program! Love that they have a state program too when we went to Kartchner Caverns (AMAZING!). You should totally include the Every Kid Outdoors Program in this post as I’m sure many people don’t know their 4th grader can get the fam into parks for free 🙂


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