National Park Junior Ranger Program: FREE for your kids!

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Free National Parks Junior Ranger Program for Kids | The Coupon Project

While on our family’s road trip this year, we had the opportunity to learn about and participate in the National Park Junior Ranger program. This is a FREE program for kids available at dozens of National Parks! When your kids complete the age-appropriate requirements for a Park’s Junior Ranger program, they can earn a patch or badge.

Our kids were able to complete the requirements for the Grand Teton Junior Ranger and Yellowstone Junior Ranger program this year.

jennylakeMy advice? Before making a visit to a National Park, check out the Junior Ranger requirements. In many instances, you can print out the activity sheets and get a jump start at home.

For both of the programs my kids completed, they were required to participate in a ranger-led program. Pictured above is the ranger-led hike our family took in the Grand Tetons to Inspiration Point at Jenny Lake!

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My husband and I also found this a really enjoyable activity – and one we would doubtfully signed up for were it not for the Junior Ranger program!

DSCN0509 (600x800)The ranger-led requirement was the one that took the most effort and planning for us to complete. The kids also had to do a Grand Teton bingo, and some coloring and activities which we had them work on in the evenings at our hotel. We also had to watch a short video.

At the end, we had the kids bring in their completed forms to a ranger station where they took an oath to become Grand Teton Junior Rangers. They then earned a patch and were so excited!

DSCN0211 (800x593)It was really simple for us to also have the kids complete the Yellowstone Junior Ranger program as it is right next to the Grand Tetons! Just remember that each National Park will have its own unique program and age-appropriate requirements. This meant we had to pick up separate workbooks once we got into Yellowstone.

DSCN0312 (800x600)As with the Grand Teton program, the Yellowstone Junior Ranger program required that the kids participated in a ranger-led event. This could really be any activity or even that a ranger oversees, such as a lecture or a hike. Our kids ended up going on a short walk with a ranger in the Madison area of Yellowstone. Once again, my husband and I were impressed how interesting WE found it!

In the photo above, the ranger is telling my kids how to identify lodge pole pines and shared that 80% of pine trees in Yellowstone are lodge pole.

DSCN0526 (800x600)On returning their packets the kids got grilled by the Yellowstone park rangers. Just kidding – they were great and super nice!

DSCN0527 (600x800)The kids pledged their oath to become Yellowstone Junior Rangers and received their badge.

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We were so impressed with these programs and of course, I wanted to share them with you because they are FREE and available at many National Parks! In the State of Washington, I found the following programs:

There is also a FREE WebRangers program if you’re not able to make it out to the National Parks. I’ve not fully delved into it, but it appears your children are able to earn some of the badges from the convenience of home. If you’ve spent some time on the WebRangers program, I’d love to hear about it.

Finally, I want to mention that there are FREE National Park Entrance Days that happen each year! These would be excellent opportunities to take your kids to complete a National Park Junior Ranger program!

For 2013, there are still a couple more fee-free entrance dates:

Have your kids participated in a Junior Ranger program before? Which one? Additional tips, experiences, ideas – please share them!

5 thoughts on “National Park Junior Ranger Program: FREE for your kids!”

  1. This program is awesome! We joined in on our trip to the Redwoods. Also, there is the Klondike Gold Museum in Seattle that is run by the NPS and you can get your book stamped there. It is a very clean Museum with hands on activities for all, and a great child friendly way to teach your kids the history of Seattle, vs the controvercial underground tour…plus its free!

  2. Such a great program!
    We did a little three day trip around ONP this summer, and I was stoked that my 10 year old still wanted to do it.
    I must confess our badges are all over the house, though. Need to round ’em up and sew them on their hats or something.

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