Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park

Just For Kids

Be A Junior Ranger

Discover Big Bend history, the parts of a cactus, and what javelina eat! The Big Bend Junior Ranger program is designed for kids of all ages. Through activities, games, and puzzles, kids can have fun as they learn about the park. Required activities include attending a ranger-led program, visiting a historic area, hiking on a park trail, and completing activity pages that encourage direct experience and discovery learning in diverse park environments. They can also earn stickers, badges, patches, and certificates. Both children and adults benefit by sharing the fun of becoming a Big Bend Junior Ranger.

What is a Junior Ranger?
A junior ranger is someone who, after attending ranger programs and completing activities in a workbook, promises to take care of Big Bend and other national parks. It is a great way to learn and have fun in the park!

How does it work?
While visiting Big Bend National Park, pick up a Junior Ranger Activity Booklet at any park visitor center. They cost only $2.00. Complete the appropriate activities for your age group (listed inside) and return the booklet to any visitor center. A park ranger will review your book with you.

When your booklet is completed you will receive:

  • A Junior Ranger Badge or a Junior Ranger Patch
  • A Big Bend Wildlife Bookmark
  • An official Junior Ranger Certificate to frame and enjoy

FOR KIDS

Explore Big Bend!
Big Bend National Park offers many opportunities for children. This unique desert region provides opportunities for exploration. To make the most of your visit, complete a junior ranger activity booklet to earn a badge or patch!

For Kids

Big Bend's habitats range from the Chihuahuan Desert to the Rio Grande to the Chisos Mountains, and all are rich with plants, animals, and stories of human history, giving children plenty of opportunity to explore.

Kids visiting the park enjoy visiting the exhibits and touchable map of the park at the Panther Junction Visitor Center, the Fossil Bone Exhibit area, the Hot Springs, the sand dune in Boquillas Canyon and the mountain lion exhibit at the Chisos Basin Visitor Center.

There are several easy hikes that kids of all ages can go on, including the Window View Trail and the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Trail. For older children, the Lost Mine Trail provides a good challenge and is an excellent day hike.

Get kids involved in ranger-led programs. These include guided hikes, slide programs, bird walks, and guided explorations of various park features. Check the schedule at any visitor center to make sure you take advantage of all the available programs. Stop by any of the park's visitor centers for directions or further suggestions.

FOR TEACHERS

Big Bend has a wealth of opportunities for teachers, scout and youth leaders. Whether you're planning a park visit for your students, looking for lesson plans or other resources to use in your classroom or home, or hoping to have a ranger visit, we've got it.

Think of your National Parks as off-site classrooms! There are many ways to utilize America's treasures as teaching tools. After all, we have "the real thing," and we love to work with you to teach students the importance of the special places we all work together to preserve and protect for the future.

Post Visit Materials

Post-trip Follow Up

  • Conduct post-visit activities. Follow up the experience by building on student observations during the trip. Discuss what they saw and what they learned. Use their new knowledge in future lesson plans.
  • Discuss overall trip impressions with your students. What were their favorite parts of the trip? What didn’t they enjoy? Discuss improvements for future trips. Keep a list of these suggestions and refer to them for next time.
  • Share your experience with others. Typically, only a small percentage of students are able to participate in field trips. Those not fortunate enough to visit Big Bend can still learn from the experience. Have students present trip reports to classmates. Create a bulletin board at school with photos and trip highlights. Give awards at an assembly to recognize student efforts (best hiker, best cook, most helpful, etc.).
  • Give thanks! Remember to thank parents and chaperones for their help with the trip. Praise your students for meeting mental and physical challenges successfully. Acknowledge the collective and individual rewards that come with outdoor adventures. Pat yourself on the back for a trip well done!!

Plan A Field Trip

The vibrant, dynamic Chihuahuan Desert ecosystem of the Big Bend provides the perfrect outdoor classroom for field studies. Teachers have several options for bringinig students for a visit to the park. Self-guided touring is the most common way for school groups to explore the park.

Entrance to the park is free for groups from a formal accredited educational institution.