Quick Tip: Read the National Park Service Jr Ranger books

When I guided in Yosemite this past summer, we had to make the backcountry permit office our first stop.

With multiple trips, clients, and cross-country travel, we needed to check in with the NPS staff to ensure we had squared everything correctly.

And while waiting,  I spotted the Yosemite Junior Ranger book.

Seemingly simple, this book aimed at children 6-12 provides a quick primer on various topics. Among the topics covered include information on John Muir, the Hetchy reservoir debate, geology,  the local flora and fauna, and the native people who once inhabited the valley among other topics.

As always, the book may not have given nuance to the debates or take a deep dive into the topics of the park. But the book did summarize many aspects of the park for any curious visitor. In other words, the books may be concise and easy to read for children, but they are not dumbed down.  In further words, these books make an excellent introductory text for any adult.

I learned about how information and interesting these books are on a Bandelier National Monument trip with Joan. As with many things about the outdoors, I continuously learn new ideas from my favorite trip partner. 🙂

So, my quick tip that I want to share: If given a chance, read the Junior Ranger book for an NPS unit!

Most of the junior ranger books can be found online for free.  But even if you can’t read it online ahead of time, the books are available in the park for only a few dollars or even free. And well worth reading. The NPS wrote some of the books for a teenage audience, too.

And the junior ranger books aren’t just for the National Parks.  They cover a variety of NPS units. Among them are historic parks, specialized booklets for the night sky, national memorials, and even ones for portions of the Appalachian Trail.  Cool!

And rumor has it; some adults will even get sworn in as Junior Rangers and receive a badge… 😉

So, if there is a trip to an NPS unit is in your immediate future, be sure to read some of the Junior Ranger booklets. You’ll learn something, be entertained, and appreciate our public lands differently, too.

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Roger Moore
Roger Moore
4 years ago

OMG! You mean I could have gotten one too?!?

I look with envy at my daughter’s Glacier badge every day!

Joan West
Joan West
4 years ago
Reply to  Paul Mags

I’ve also noticed that more parks have a “Not So Junior Ranger” program for teens and adults. Pecos NHP just announced theirs on Facebook– they have a really snazzy badge. Smokies also has one: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/not-so-jr-ranger.htm

4 years ago

What a great idea–Thanks!!

4 years ago

Another reason to closely read EVERY Pmags posting.