• Visitors bask in a golden sunset at Dickey Ridge Visitor Center in Shenandoah National Park


    National Park Virginia

Be A Junior Ranger

A young visitor wearing a red Junior Ranger hat and patches, sits in the grass of Big Meadows working on her Junior Ranger book.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a national park ranger? Find out for yourself by becoming a Junior Ranger! At Shenandoah, you can join a ranger to learn about the resources they are responsible for: plants, lichens, deer, historic home sites, peregrine falcons, habitats, trees, streams, rocks, bugs, and more.

During spring, summer and fall, park rangers conduct regularly scheduled Junior Ranger programs lasting 1.5 hours. You can explore an amazing area with a ranger and take part in fun hands-on activities. These programs are designed for children ages 7-12. Children must be accompanied by an adult. See the park ranger program schedule for specific days, times, and meeting places.

Jr Ranger book cover

Going on a hike or walk with a Ranger is just the beginning! Our Junior Ranger Activity Booklet (for ages 7-12) is loaded with fun activities that help you really get to know the park. Besides having lots of fun, you can earn a sticker or a Junior Ranger patch or badge. To get a copy of the booklet you can pick one up for free from the park at Byrd Visitor Center or Dickey Ridge Visitor Center, or download it free here. Then have fun completing the activities and recording your thoughts about the Ranger Programs you attend. If you finish five of the 15 activities, you get a sticker. If you do at least 12 activities and attend any two ranger-led programs, you can earn your choice of a Junior Ranger patch or badge.

If you are 13 years of age or older, you will enjoy our Ranger Explorer Program. These activities are done on your own or with your family. Besides learning more about the park, you have the opportunity to earn a patch, pin, or certificate for your hard work.

Each April the entire National Park Service celebrates our younger visitors with National Junior Ranger Day. Click here for details and a schedule of special activities for this year's events.

Shenandoah's Junior Ranger Backpack.
Explorer Backpacks
When you visit Shenandoah National Park you may wonder about the names of the butterflies that dance between the flowers in Big Meadows or the large birds that soar above the overlooks. Imagine how much more interesting your visit would be if you could inspect flowers and bugs through a magnifying glass and view the birds with binoculars. Shenandoah National Park offers Explorer Backpacks with books and equipment to help you investigate the rich life of the mountains. There are five field guides in each backpack to help you to identify the plants and animals you discover in the park. You can help your parents choose hikes during your stay by looking through the four hiking guides included in the pack. Choose from short hikes, hikes to peaks, waterfalls, or along the historic Appalachian Trail.

The backpacks rent for $5.00 per day which includes a free Junior Ranger booklet. After completing 12 of the activities in the booklet and attending two ranger-led programs, you are eligible for a Junior Ranger badge or patch. Celebrate your achievement of becoming a Junior Ranger of Shenandoah National Park!

Explorer Backpacks can be rented and returned to Byrd Visitor Center at Big Meadows (milepost 51 on the Skyline Drive) or Dickey Ridge Visitor Center (mile 4.7) during regular operating hours. A deposit is required to cover the cost of replacement at the time of your rental.

Try it. Being a ranger could be more fun than you ever imagined!

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