Death Valley National Park Junior Ranger Program

Please click on the following link for the official Death Valley National Park Junior Ranger web page:http://www.nps.gov/deva/forkids/beajuniorranger.htmYou can pick up the Junior Ranger Booklet at any Death Valley National Park Visitor Center. To complete the Junior Ranger Program, you need to do the following:Complete the right number of activities for your age.

  • Ages 6 and under – do at least 4 activities
  • Ages 7 – 10 – do at least 6 activities
  • Ages 11 and above – do at least 9 activities

Attend a ranger-guided program.
Complete one of the projects listed below.

  • Pick up 10 pieces of litter and put them in a trash bin. Don’t forget to recycle!
  • Reuse something you have already used in a different way.
  • Recycle items your family used in the recycle bins at the visitor center, campgrounds and resorts.

After you have completed the above steps, go to the Furnace Creek Visitor Center, Stovepipe Wells Ranger Station or Scotty’s Castle. A ranger will check your work and present you a Death Valley Junior Ranger Badge. To buy a Junior Ranger Patch ($1.50 + tax), take your signed certificate to a visitor center bookstore. Please see below for a picture of the Death Valley Junior Ranger Badge and Patch.

My family visited Death Valley National Park from November 16, 2009 through November 18, 2009. We stayed at the Stovepipe Wells Village. Xanterra manages 14 RV Hook-ups with water, sewer and electric. Cost including tax was $30.58 per night, which includes access to the pool and showers. There is also a separate campground at Stovepipe Wells, that does not have water, sewer or electric and is managed by NPS. The cost for that was $12.00 per night. You can then spend $4.00 per person per day if you want to use the showers and pool at the Stovepipe resort. Xanterra also had wireless internet access in their lobby.

We arrived in the afternoon on November 16, 2009. After setting up camp, we drove about 2 miles on a dirt road to the Mosaic Canyon trail head. The girls loved walking through the narrow canyon. They loved climbing up the rocks and touching the marble-walled canyon.

On November 17, 2009, we drove up to Scotty’s Castle and took the tour. For adults it was $11 per person and for children ages 6 – 15 years old it was $6 person. Children under 5 years old were free. The tours can only accommodate around 15 or so people and are first come first served. During our visit is appeared that a new tour started every 20 minutes or so. The tour lasted about 1 hour. The rangers dress in costume from the time period of 1939. We were informed that because they dress in costume, all fees collected for the tour go towards maintaining the Castle. Ranger Barry Oost was our tour guide. He informed us that he had only been working at Scotty’s Castle for about six months, but it appeared he was very knowledgeable about the site. The tour was very informative and held the girl’s attention through most of the tour. The tour also counted for attending a ranger-guided program. There is also an activity in the Junior Ranger Activity Booklet that can only be completed at Scotty’s Castle.

After Scotty’s Castle, we drove up to Ubehebe Crater, which was about 8 miles from Scotty’s Castle. We were planning on hiking to the bottom, but it was pretty windy and cold and was kind of late in the day, so we decided to pass on the hike. We then drove to the Rhyolite Ghost Town. That was kind of disappointing. There was no information at the site about the town and there wasn’t that much to explore. Since Beatty was only 4 miles away, we filled up our gas tank and returned to our campsite.

On November 18, 2009, we attended the Bighorn Sheep Discovery Tour, which was located 14 miles east of the Furnace Creek Visitor Center along Hwy 190 at the Park Entrance Sign. Ranger Charlie Callagan was our tour guide. During the tour Ranger Callagan talked about how Bighorn Sheep had adapted to Death Valley. The talk lasted about 20 minutes. Ranger Callagan brought with him a Bighorn Sheep skull and horns, which the girls were able to hold and take a picture with. Unfortunately, we didn’t spot any Bighorn Sheep.

After the tour, we drove back towards the Furnace Creek Visitor Center and stopped at Zabriskie Point. There is a trail head at Zabriskie Point if you want to hike into the badlands. We then drove to Badwater, which is the lowest elevation in the United States at 282 feet below see level. After Badwater, we drove to the trail head for the Natural Bridge. The sign states it is a 1 mile hike to the Natural Bridge, but it seemed much shorter than that. Just past the Natural Bridge around the next corner of the trail was a dry waterfall. We then stopped at the Devils Golf Course, which is a short drive off the main road.

We then returned to the Furnace Creek Visitor Center and the girls turned in their completed activity books to Ranger Sandra Buck. The girls took the Death Valley Junior Ranger Pledge and were awarded the Death Valley Junior Ranger Badge. The girls then explored the museum at the visitor center while I purchased Death Valley Junior Ranger Patches at the book store.

We made one last stop before returning to our campsite to pack up. We stopped at the Sand Dunes just outside of Stovepipe Wells Village. We really had a good time at the Sand Dunes. The girls enjoyed climbing the dunes and then running down them. It was also right at sunset and got some great pictures.

The Junior Ranger Activity Booklet was geared for all ages. There were enough activities that were age appropriate for Samantha who is four years old. Some of the activties may have been too easy for an eleven year old. One of the activities, “Scotty’s Treasure Hunt” made you explore the grounds of the castle. It was a fun activity and we saw some things that we probably wouldn’t have seen if we didn’t do the activity. The activity book was also very educational and specific to Death Valley, which is one of the reasons we have decided to visit National Parks throughout the United States. In October, we visited Pinnacles National Monument and learned about bats. It just so happened that Alyssa’s teacher covered bats in class the next week and Alyssa was able to contribute to the learning experience because of our trip.

A note about GAS. It was very interesting. We came in through the west side entrance up Hwy 395 and gas was around $3.09 per gallon. At Stovepipe Wells it was $3.10 per gallon, but at Furnace Creek it was well over $4.00 a gallon. In Beatty, which is in Nevada, gas was about $2.79 per gallon.