Several years ago if you asked me about the National Park System I would have naïvely explained that our family isn’t super outdoorsy. (And by “outdoorsy” I mean that we don’t possess any crazy survival skills for being in the wild for extended periods of time.) Therefore, we didn’t include National Parks in our travel itinerary.

But then, someone introduced me to the Junior Rangers program…and everything changed!

For starters, you don’t have to eat bugs or forgo hot showers in order to enjoy National Parks. In fact, many National Parks aren’t even remote wilderness areas. Many different categories fall under the NPS umbrella including some beaches, and landmarks. And then, of course, actual parks.

The more we’ve begun to explore National Parks, the more we’ve realized how much we enjoy them!

Every single National Park we’ve visited is a bit different. We’ve come to learn that they each offer a wealth of information for our kiddos to soak in! And, there is no better way for them to do so than by participating in the Junior Rangers program.

National Parks

Here are 10 Things You Should Know About The Junior Rangers Program:

  1. Almost all of the parks (NPS) participate in the Junior Rangers Program. 
  2. Program is free! All you need to do is go to a visitors center to request a booklet.
  3. The Junior Ranger booklets are completely specialized for each park.
  4. This program was specifically designed for children ages 5-13, but anyone may participate.
  5. To earn a free badge, children must complete a specified number of activities and return the booklet to a ranger station. 
  6. If you are unable to complete the booklet before you leave the park, you can mail in the completed book and receive a badge.
  7. The booklets contain TONS of educational information and many fun activities (such as mazes, crosswords and matching games.)
  8. Many of the Junior Ranger booklets contain an activity similar to a scavenger hunt. It will ask children to find specific trees, plants, animals or tracks as they explore the park.
  9. The pages also ask children to think and apply what they’ve learned.
  10. The Junior Rangers program offers opportunities to participate right from your home. There is a WebRangers section and also some Junior Badges you can earn at home.

More than anything else, the Junior Ranger program encourages kids to “Explore, Learn and Protect.”

We’ve found that these booklets provide awesome road trip activities AND make for really great post-trip scrapbook material!

Have your children received any Junior Ranger Badges?

Also- if you plan to visit several National Parks- make sure you invest in a Passport To Your National Parks. This is HANDS DOWN our favorite and most used travel product! My kiddos love collecting stamps as we travel! It’s so much fun to watch your book fill up.

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Also, you may enjoy reading:

The Most Family-Friendly Parks You Need To Visit Right Now

The Most Affordable Ways For Families To Visit National Parks

Important Tips For Visiting The Grand Canyon With Kids

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