Mono Lake Tufa State National Park Junior Ranger Program

This Junior Ranger Program is an educational partnership between California State Parks, the Mono Lake Committee and the U.S. Forest Service. It is almost impossible to find out about the program online. I have provided links to these three organizations; however, there is little to no information about the Junior Ranger Program.

USDA National Forest – http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/inyo
Mono Lake Committee – http://www.monolake.org
California State Parks – http://www.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=514

You can pick up the Mono Basin Junior Ranger Adventure Guide at the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area Visitor Center. There is no fee to participate in the program. The Adventure Guide does not state any age requirements, but I believe the program is for ages 7 and up; however, when we visited the center, the Rangers were very lenient and encouraged participation of all ages. There are 14 activities to be completed in the Adventure Guide. My daughter is only 5 years old, and the Rangers only required her to complete the activities that were appropriate for her age.

The activities in the Adventure Guide are:

1. Safety Search – you decode the secret message
2. Signs and Symbols Match – match symbols to their meaning
3. Junior Ranger Word Match – match words to the correct definition
4. Scientific Data Collection – tally the birds you see
5. Activity – Describe two smells and two sounds
6. Water: there’s no life without it! – describe 3 ways that we use water and how to save water at home
7. Geology Word Match – match terms with its definition **optional activity
8. Volcanic Word Scramble – unscramble volcanic terms **optional activity
9. Word Search Puzzle
10. People of the Past – Find out about the history of this area
11. Activity – draw your favorite Tufa
12. Mono Lake Crossword Clues – crossword puzzle
13. Scavenger Hunt Bingo
14. Write a Poem

We visited Mono Basin on August 5, 2008. My daughter completed six of the activities. One of the sites we visited was South Tufa Reserve. There is a $3.00 fee for adults. The fee is waived for those with the America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands pass. It is definitely worth visiting. After completing the activities, we returned to the visitor center, where Ranger Kayte looked over her book. After asking my daughter a few questions, Ranger Kayte had her take the Junior Ranger pledge. She then received a Mono Basin Junior Ranger patch and a Smokey the Bear badge. See below for a scanned picture of the patch.

There is also an activity at the end of the Adventure Guide called “The Journey Home”, where the Junior Ranger answers questions about what was learned during the program.

At the time of our visit, they offered a Junior Ranger walk at 10:30 am on Fridays. You would meet at the Mono Lake County Park and it lasted about 1 1/2 hours. We were unable to go on the walk, because we visited on a Tuesday.

The staff at the park were very friendly and helpful and encouraged the education of children.