Fun for kids of all ages, the park’s junior ranger program lets your entire family get a lot more out of their Yosemite vacation. Each year over 27,000 children became junior rangers during their park visit. All parents have to do to sign up is to purchase a self-guided activity booklet for a few dollars from the nearest park visitor center or information station, or at the Yosemite Valley’s Nature Center at Happy Isles.
Although Yosemite’s junior ranger program is aimed at kids aged 7 to 13 years, anyone (even senior citizens!) can complete the educational activities in the booklet, then pick up a bag of trash to help keep the park clean and attend a ranger-guided program in order to earn an official junior ranger badge. Smaller children don’t need to feel left out either when their older brothers and sisters become junior rangers, because Yosemite has a special Little Cub Handbook for them (recommended for ages 3 to 6 years).
During summer, special junior ranger programs led by Yosemite park staff take place daily. For current schedules, check the seasonal park newspaper, the Yosemite Guide. If you have time, join a junior-ranger guided walk around the valley’s Nature Center at Happy Isles, which has family-oriented exhibits about wildlife inside, or gather with rangers around the campfire ring after dark. It’s a memorable way for your kids to become even more inspired by nature after meeting real-life rangers during your Yosemite vacation.
For more information on becoming a junior ranger in Yosemite National Park, visit nps.gov.