Happy Birthday, National Park Service!

The National Park Service turns 100 today, can you believe it? My family┬áhas spent so much time outside this summer and one of the more interesting things we’ve been able to do with our boys was participate in the National Parks Service’s Junior Rangers program. We found out about this program while on a day cruise in Seward, AK and my son got his first pin. He was so proud of himself.

Participating in the program is easy. Kids are given a workbook and, based on their age, they fill out a certain number of pages. Once they’re finished, they give the booklet to a Park Ranger, who performs a little ceremony and hands out the badges or patches. The last page of the booklet is an official certificate, which is a cool bonus for any scrapbookers out there. Recently, we visited the Alaska Public Lands Information Center here in Anchorage, and the boys got their first patch AND a centennial pin! I found out later that there are more Junior Ranger programs there, so I guess we’ll have to go back and continue our collection!

I did a little digging and there are a TON of parks that offer Junior Ranger booklets/badges/patches/etc. Below is a list, in case you want to start your own collection. Please note, not all of these places are open year-round, and some require…unconventional methods of transportation to get there, so please call ahead to make sure you’re able to visit when you plan to! I found all of this information online and as far as I know, it is correct. If you see any mistakes though, please let me know! And finally, for my non-Alaskan readers, here is a full list of participating parks.

Alaska National Parks with Junior Ranger Programs

Anchorage: Alaska Public Lands Information Center
605 West 4th Avenue Suite 105
Anchorage, AK 99501
(907) 644-3661

Bettles/Coldfoot: Gates of the Arctic National Park
Bettles, AK 99726
(907) 692-5494

Copper Center: Wrangell-St.Elias National Park & Reserve
Mile 106.8 Richardson Highway
Copper Center, AK 99573
(907) 822-5234

Denali: Denali National Park and Preserve
Denali Park, AK 99755
(907) 683-9532

Fairbanks: Fairbanks Alaska Public Lands Information Center
101 Dunkel Street Suite 110
Fairbanks, AK 99701
(907) 459-3730

Gustavus: Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
Gustavus, AK 99826
(907) 697-2230

Homer: Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge
95 Sterling Highway # 1
Homer, Alaska 99603
(907) 235-6546

Juneau: Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center
6000 Glacier Spur Rd
Juneau, AK 99801
(907) 789-0097

Katmai/King Salmon: Katmai National Park and Reserve
1000 Silver Street, Building 603
King Salmon, AK 99613
(907) 246-3305

Ketchikan: Southeast Alaska Discovery Center
50 Main St
Ketchikan, AK 99901
(907) 228-6220

Ketchikan/Alaska Marine Highway: Tongass National Forest
648 Mission Street
Ketchikan, AK 99901
(907) 225-3101

Kotzebue: Western Arctic National Parklands
Kotzebue, AK 99752
(907) 442-3890

Seward: Kenai Fjords National Park
Seward, AK 99664
(907) 422-0500

Sitka: Sitka National Historical Park
103 Monastery Street
Sitka, AK 99835
(907) 747-0110

Skagway: Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
Skagway, AK 99840
(907) 983-9200

Tok/Tetlin: National Wildlife Refuge
1.5 Mile Borealis
MS 529
Tok, Alaska 99780

If you’re looking for an excuse to go and visit a park near you, admission to all of the national parks is FREE on September 24th and November 11th. Those are the last two free admission days of the year, so no excuses! If you’re military, there are even more reasons to go!

Now go on, get outside!

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