Pinnacles National Monument Junior Ranger Program

Pinnacles-National-Monument-Acorn

Please click on the following link for the official Pinnacles National Monument Park Junior Ranger web page:

http://www.nps.gov/pinn/forkids/index.htm

You can pick up a free Junior Ranger booklet at the Bear Gulch Nature Center, Pinnacles Visitor Center, or Chaparral Ranger Station. The activity book is for ages 3 and up. There are three age group categories in the book as follows:

Ages 3 – 6: Acorn Woodpecker
Ages 7 – 10: Coyote
Ages 11 and up: Condor


To become a Junior Ranger at Pinnacles National Monument you have to do the following:

  • Complete at least six activities in the Junior Ranger booklet.
  • Show your completed book to a ranger at either the Bear Gulch Nature Center, Pinnacles Visitor Center, or Chaparral Ranger Station.
  • Complete the pledge and certificate on the last page of the activity book.


The Pinnacles Junior Ranger will be awarded a badge at completion of the activity book. Please be sure to ask for a Pinnacles Junior Ranger patch. Pinnacles offers a different patch for each age group. All they ask for is a small donation to the park. Please see below for a picture of the badge and Acorn Woodpecker and Coyote patch.

Look for activities for your age group by checking for either the Acorn Woodpecker, Coyote or Condor at the top of each page.

My family visited Pinnacles National Monument on October 9 and 10, 2009. This was a very special trip, as it was our first camping trip. We recently bought a tent/pop-up trailer. The girls absolutely loved camping and can’t wait to go again.

At the time of the trip, my daughters were 6 (almost 7) and 4 1/2. Alyssa, my 6 year old decided she would try to complete the Coyote age group because she was almost seven. In this posting I will describe the activities for the Acorn Woodpecker and the Coyote age groups. They are as follows:

Acorn Woodpecker and Coyote activities

  1. What’s Happening – look closely at a picture and circle children who are doing something that helps protect the monument and draw an “X”on the mistakes that might harm the monument.
  2. Likin – Lichen – find a rock that has lots of lichen on it and draw it.
  3. Rock Gawk – Find a rock to look at and answer questions.
  4. Buckeye Seasons – Draw parts of a buckeye from all for seasons.
  5. Build A Talus Cave – Connect the dots.
  6. Discover Pinnacles – Mark on a map different activities throughout the park.
  7. Coyote Maze – Maze puzzle.
  8. Micro Hike – Find a place outdoors and choose an area as wide and far as you can reach. Make a sketch of your area and describe what you find.
  9. Map Symbols – Match symbols to their meanings.
  10. Chaparral Bingo – Draw plants you find to get bingo.


Coyote Activities

  1. Useful Plants – What do we use today, instead of plants, for human problems?
  2. Sky Predators – Crossword Puzzle
  3. Sensational Hike – Choose a place in the monument and describe the environment using your Raptor Vision, Bobcat Ears and Coyote Nose.
  4. Hey, Ranger! – You’ve just been hired as a national park ranger at Pinnacles National Monument. Answer four questions that you may get.
  5. Sensitive Species- Word search puzzle.
  6. Tic Tac Volcano – Symbol puzzle


I thought the activity book was great. It was very age appropriate for the girls. We had to read some of the activities to our four year old, but that is expected. We stayed at the Pinnacles Campground on Friday and Saturday night. While there, we saw several dear and wild turkeys. On Saturday morning, we went to the visitor center and picked up the Junior Ranger booklets and decided to go on the Bear Gulch Cave Trail. We first stopped at the Bear Gulch Nature Center and met Ranger Tammi Skalitzky. She informed us that the Bear Gulch Cave was completely open, which usually only happens in March and October. The lower part of the cave was fairly easy to maneuver; however, the upper cave was a little more difficult for the adults because of the low ceilings. There was a family in front of us with a kid pack and they were able to get through it.

When we reached the Bear Gulch Reservoir, the girls worked on a few pages in their activity books. We then worked our way back to the Bear Gulch Nature Center via the Rim Trail. Overall, the entire hike was about 1.8 miles with a slight elevation gain on the way up. The girls continued to work on their books on the way back to the Nature Center, stopping to watch rock climbers along the way. The Bear Gulch Day Use Area had several picnic tables and the girls finished their activity booklets there. After finishing the books, we returned to the Nature Center and the girls gave their books to Ranger Skalitzky for review. Ranger Skalitzky spent several minutes going over the books with the girls, she talked to them about the bats and explained to them why they sleep upside down. After the girls took the Junior Ranger Pledge, she awarded them with the Pinnacles National Monument badge. Samantha received the Acorn Woodpecker patch and Alyssa received the Coyote patch. Ranger Skalitzky then took pictures with the girls and let them try on her Ranger hat. She even posed for a silly face picture. After that she shared a story with the girls on how she knew she wanted to be a Park Ranger at the age of 4.

While we were returning to the campground, Alyssa was already talking about returning to the park when she turned 11, to get the Condor patch. I was very impressed with the Junior Ranger program. The activity book had great illustrations and the program encouraged families to return to the park. Ranger Skalitzky was extremely friendly and it was obvious that she enjoys working with children and talking about the park.

When we returned to the campground, Alyssa and I went exploring while Samantha took a nap. We located a lookout scope. We were able to view several Condors flying and sitting in the trees on a mountain. It was pretty cool.

Alyssa and I then went back to the Visitor Center and talked to Ranger Esperanza Hernandez. Alyssa wanted to know when Condors had babies. Ranger Hernandez was also very helpful and spent several minutes with us talking about the Condors at Pinnacles National Monument.

We had a great trip. It was kind of short as we would have liked to go on a couple more hikes. We definitely plan on returning prior to Alyssa turning 11 years old. We also discovered that we need to buy a few more things for our next camping trip. The girls are already looking forward to that and Alyssa can’t wait for me to finish this posting so that she can also write hers.

Since this was our first camping trip, I can’t objectively evaluate the campground. Our site had electricity. We were also close to a fresh water source and had a short walk to the bathroom and showers; however, the water heater for the showers was broken. It also appeared that they were upgrading an area, adding several new sites with electricity.