Great Smoky Mountains National Park will celebrate National Junior Ranger Day on Saturday, April 26 from 10 a.m. – 2p.m. with special activities at Sugarlands Visitor Center, Cades Cove Visitor Center and Oconaluftee Visitor Center.
Children and their families can join in a variety of free, hands-on activities including ranger-guided walks, historic toy making, talking to a real wildland firefighter, making dinner bells at a blacksmith shop, and visiting touch tables with animal skins, skulls, and scat. Information about specific programs is available at each visitor center.
Children can earn their free Junior Ranger patch by completing three specially planned activities. A Junior Ranger booklet is also available for those who would like to explore the park in more depth. The Junior Ranger booklets, produced in cooperation with Great Smoky Mountains Association, can be purchased for $2.50 each at park visitor centers. The booklets are designed to serve a variety of age targeted groups from 5-12.
National Junior Ranger Day is a special event during National Park Week celebrated this year between April 19 and 27. National Park Week is an annual presidentially proclaimed week for celebrating and recognizing national parks. This year’s theme is “Go Wild!”
Most parks throughout the country will host ceremonies, interactive games, and special events designed to connect children with the resources found in national parks.
“Great Smoky Mountains is famous for its natural and cultural resources, recreational opportunities and scenic vistas. Junior Ranger Day is a great opportunity for children and families to “GO Wild!” for learning about the park by doing free and fun activities while interacting with our staff and the resource.” said Park Acting Superintendent Pedro Ramos.
Junior Ranger Day will run in conjunction with the park’s annual Music of the Mountains festival at the Sugarlands Visitor Center on April 26. Families are encouraged to stop in and listen to Appalachian music that will be featured in the theatre from 10:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m.
There will also be an opportunity for middle and high school students at Sugarlands Visitor Center on April 26, to participate in a salamander monitoring project from 10:00a.m. through12:30 p.m. This project will provide a “behind the scenes” look into a real science project that has been an on-going study for many years in the park.
Students will help Park Rangers restore an aquatic salamander monitoring transect in a Sugarlands area stream. Once the scientific plot is set up, students will help search for salamanders to help take the first recordable data of the year by capturing salamanders to weigh, measure, and identify. By including this opportunity for older children during the National Junior Ranger Day event, the park hopes to provide opportunities for all ages to experience the park.
Info: Lloyd Luketin (865) 436-1292