Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument Junior Ranger Program

Please click on the following link for the official Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument Junior Ranger web page:

You can pick up a Junior Ranger Activity Book at the Visitor Center or Contact Station. There are three levels of activities for Junior Rangers:

1. Junior Ranger handout for 6 or younger.
2. Junior Ranger book for ages 7-12.
3. Senior Ranger book for ages 12 and up.

Once completed you return the workbook to the Visitor center. A Ranger will check your work and give you an official badge and certificate. Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument does not have a Junior Ranger Patch.

My family visited Gila Cliff Dwellings on April 6, 2009. Both my six year and four year old daughters completed the Junior Ranger Program. The Junior Ranger handout for 6 or younger was very age appropriate for my four year old. The activities consisted of coloring, drawing and identifying pictures. The handout was definitely to simple for my six year old, so she completed the Junior Ranger book for ages 7-12. She was able to complete a lot of the activities on her own; however, do to her reading ability, mom and dad had to assist on some of them. I did not know they had a Senior Ranger book until after we returned to the Visitor Center, as I would have completed that program with the girls.

In this blog, I will discuss the activities in the Junior Ranger handout and the Junior Ranger book.

Junior Ranger handout for ages 6 or younger:

The handout had 5 activities to complete:
1. Color some of the animals that live in Cliff Dweller Canyon.
2. Circle four things the Mogollon cliff dwellers did not have.
3. Find the lizard in the picture.
4. Cliff Dwellings Tic-Tac-Toe.
5. Draw pictures of things you saw and heard at Gila Cliff Dwellings.

Junior Ranger Book for ages 7-12.

There were several activities for the Junior Ranger to complete in this book. Activities 2, 6, 12 an 14 must be completed to earn the Junior Ranger badge and certificate. At the beginning of the book, there is a note to parents to encourage your child to complete the book to the best of their ability. The activities are as follows:

1. Who Lives Here? Match animals to its habitat.
2. Draw a Sound Map. Sit quietly and draw all the sounds you hear.
3. Yuccas Are Usefull! From a word list, fill in the blanks to see how many ways you can use a yucca.
4. Answer three of the common questions people ask about the Gila Cliff Dwellings.
5. Label each picture as a kitchen, kiva or living area based on artifacts that were found in each area.
6. Look at pictographs and copy one that you like.
7. Spanish word search puzzle.
8. Answer questions about your daily life.
9. Answer questions about following rules in the park.
10. Draw a picture of what you saw today.
11. Circle the National Parks, Monuments and Historical Parks you have visited in New Mexico.
12. Ask the Experts. Ask your parents and a Ranger or Volunteer what makes Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument a special place.
13. Maze puzzle.
14. How can you protect the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument?

The Gila Cliff Dwellings were fascinating. To get to the dwellings, you hike on a 1-mile loop trail. Once you reach the dwellings, you can enter and explore most of the caves. There are ladders that you can climb to look into the dwellings that are restricted from traffic. After we explored the dwellings, my daughters completed a majority of the activities at the dwellings.

When we were done with the hike, we went to the lower Scorpion campground and had lunch. After lunch, we walked on a short trail called “The Trail to the Past”. There are two sections of the trail. One leads to pictographs and the other to a small cave dwelling that you can also explore. You need to visit the pictographs to complete one of the activities in the Junior Ranger book.

The girls then finished their books and turned them into Volunteer Anita Deming at the Visitor Center. They then received a Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument Junior Ranger badge and certificate.