8 Amazing Junior Ranger Programs in the Smoky Mountains This Summer

Boys dressed like Junior Rangers in the forest.
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Young visitors to the Smoky Mountains will have the chance to join the ranks of the National Park Service this summer! From June through August, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park hosts a number of awesome Junior Ranger programs that are completely free to attend. These special events are designed to be fun, educational, and totally kid-friendly.

Kids who are between the ages of 5 and 12 can even earn their very own Junior Ranger badge! To obtain one of these coveted badges, parents can purchase a Junior Ranger booklet for $2.50 at any of the park visitor centers. Once your children have completed the activities in the book, they can talk to a park ranger at one of the visitor centers to receive their badge.

To help you prepare for your next vacation, Visit My Smokies has put together a guide to all of the Junior Ranger programs on the Tennessee side of the national park:

1. Porch Talk

Sugarlands Visitor Center
3:00 – 3:30 p.m.
Every day from 6/13/2017 to 8/13/2017

A park ranger will give a half hour lesson about the Great Smoky Mountains on the porch of Sugarlands Visitor Center. The ranger will talk about a topic of his or her choosing each day, so you never know what sort of interesting information will be shared.

2. Geology Rocks!Stunning view from Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Smoky Mountains.

Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area
1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Every Sunday weekly from 6/18/2017 to 8/13/2017

Participants in this Junior Ranger program will learn all about the geological history of the Smoky Mountains. Your kids will find out how the mountains came into existence and how they have changed over time.

3. Whose Poop is on my Boots?

Sugarlands Visitor Center
1:00 – 1:45 p.m.
Every Monday weekly and every Friday weekly from 6/19/2017 to 8/11/2017

This program may have a funny name, but it teaches a lot of valuable information! Kids will learn how to identify animals based on their skin, tracks, and droppings.

4. Mountain Medicine Kids

Sugarlands Visitor Center
1:00 – 1:45 p.m.
Every Tuesday weekly from 6/20/2017 to 8/8/2017

Your kids will travel back in time to learn how children in the Smoky Mountains lived centuries ago. A park ranger will talk about what kids used to do for fun and what sort of natural resources were used to keep them healthy.

The Little Greenbrier School.5. School Days at Little Greenbrier

Little Greenbrier School
11:00 a.m – 12:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Every Tuesday weekly from 6/20/2017 to 8/8/2017

“School Days” is another blast from the past! Participants will visit the Little Greenbrier School, a one-room schoolhouse that was built in 1882, to learn what education was like in the 19th century. Space is limited for this Junior Ranger program, and families are asked to arrive 15 minutes early.

(See Also: The Strange History of the Walker Sisters in the Smoky Mountains)

6. Aw Shucks

Sugarlands Visitor Center
1:00 – 1:45 p.m.
Every Wednesday weekly from 6/21/2017 to 8/9/2017

Kids will have the chance to make their own simple corn-husk doll. These toys were made by the Native Americans and early Euro-American settlers out of the dried leaves ( the “husk”) of corn cobs.

7. Pack Your Bags

Chimneys Picnic Area
11:00 – 11:45 a.m.
Every Wednesday weekly from 6/21/2017 – 8/9/2017

This program is full of helpful advice for hikers and campers. Kids will learn what to pack for a hike in the national park, how to set up a campsite, how to properly store food, and where the best places to camp are.

8. History DetectiveA barn and a log cabin in Cades Cove.

Sugarlands Visitor Center
1:00 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.
Every Thursday weekly from 6/22/2017 to 8/17/2017

In this great Junior Ranger class, a park ranger will teach kids how to search for signs of human existence in the Smoky Mountains before the establishment of the national park. Your kids will use “detective skills” to make discoveries and deductions in the mountains.

To learn more about everything to see and do in the Smokies, check out our Great Smoky Mountains National Park page!

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