National Parks

13 Junior Ranger Badges to Earn at Home

The Carful of Kids have earned Junior Ranger badges since our first road trip.
A free program that enriches our national park experience. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Like many families, we learn when we visit a National Park Service site. To help guide our journey through the park, I always pick up a Junior Ranger booklet from the NPS Visitor Center when we arrive.  Each booklet identifies the park’s unique features, including the people and their history, the animals, the plants and the geological formations.  As we explore a National Park Service area, I use the Junior Ranger booklet to hit the highlights in a kid-friendly way. Here’s a list of the Junior Ranger badges to earn at home.

Though it wasn’t until we didn’t finish one of our booklets that a Park Ranger told me I could mail it in and receive the badge in the mail. Back at home, I started to research and found more NPS Junior Ranger Badges that kids could earn.  This is great activity in-between national park visits. Read on for a list of the National Park Service badges you can earn from home.

Note: Due to stay-at-home orders the National Park Service has suspended the mailing of Junior Ranger badges. Though this should be temporary since booklet downloads are still available.

Table of Contents

What’s a Junior Ranger

The Carful of Kids take the Junior Ranger oath and promise to explore, learn and protect our national treasures.
The Carful of Kids take the Junior Ranger oath and promise to explore, learn and protect our national treasures.Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Junior Rangers are junior park rangers. Kids can join the ranks as they explore, learn and protect our national treasures. Over 200 national park sites  hand out free booklets specially designed for each park (a few parks charge $3 for the booklet). Kids complete the educational booklet as they experience the national park in a kid-friendly way.

The badges are free and collectible souvenirs. As the go-to educational program for families in national parks, I’ve learned just as much as my kids. The Junior Ranger badge requirements differ for park to park. I found the most common requirements hiking, recycling or attending a ranger program.

Most kids visit national parks during the summer season some of the larger national park offer special Junior Ranger programming. My kids love it when park rangers walk them though the requirements to the Junior Ranger badge. Most Junior Ranger programs discuss topics kids love, like animals.

Best of all, Junior Ranger badges show teachers that kids keep learning while on a break.  My 11-year-old gave an oral report on Yellowstone National Park and he wore ahat covered in his Junior Ranger badges. He earned 5 points of extra credit.

Read More 

How to Explore a National Park for Free
Junior Ranger Badges to Earn on an Alaskan Cruise
How to Display Junior Ranger Badges

10 National Junior Ranger Badges

The Junior Ranger program offers downloadable National Junior Ranger badge booklets to print and complete at home. Afterwards, just mail the booklet back to the National Park Service where a ranger reviews it and mails the earned badge back for free.

Brand New! Junior Ranger Railroad Explorer

The National Park Service just released  a new Junior Ranger Badge dedicated to the buillding of the United States transcontinental railroad. The Junior Ranger Railroad Explorer Badge guides kids to learn more about U.S. history, technology and geography while earning this Junior Ranger Badge at home.

Note:  This badge doesn’t offer a special badge.

Click here for the Booklet 

Spaceflight Explorer

Got an wanna- be astronaut at home, then here’s the Junior Ranger booklet for you. Learn about the Mission to Mars and how the U.S. got to the Moon in this booklet produced by NASA and the National Park Service.

Note: This badge doesn’t offer a special badge.

Click here for the Booklet

Read More

NASA Visitors Centers to Explore
Where to See a NASA Launch

World Heritage Junior Ranger 

This program celebrates the UNESCO World Heritage sites across the United States. Download the booklet and fill it out. Also check out the extra credit videos.

Click here for the Booklet 

Read More about UNESCO sites 

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
Statue of Liberty 
Olympic National Park

Junior Archeologist

This activity booklet helps kids discover how people in the past lived. Complete at home and mail into the NPS Chief Archeologist and includes a parent guide.

Click here for the Booklet

Mail to the following addres:

NPS Chief Arheologist
National Park Service
1849 C Street NW
Mail Stop 7508
Washington, DC 20240

Junior Paleontologist Program

Perfect for the dinosaur-loving kid in your family. The National Park Service features 259 parks that preserve fossils, like Badlands National Park.

Click here for booklet. 

Mail to the following address:

Jason Kenworthy
NPS Geologic Resources Division
P.O. Box 25287
Denver, CO 80225

Historic Preservation Junior Ranger Badge

A Junior Ranger badge dedicated to the preservation of historic buildings. And learn about the people who helped to make preservation import.

Click here for booklet. 

Mail into the following address:

National Park Service
Cultural Resources, Partnerships, and Science 
1849 C Street, NW Rm 7512
Washington, DC 20240

Junior Cave Scientist Program

Got a the young speleologists then here’s the badge for you. The National Park Service protects 150 different areas with caves or karsts (landscapes created by weak acids that dissolve rocks).

Click here for booklet

Mail to the following address:

Limaris Soto
NPS Geologic Resources Division
P.O. Box 25287
Denver, CO 80225

Read More about Parks with Caves and Karst

Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota
Jewel Cave National Monument in South Dakota
Oregon Caves National Monument in Oregon
Newberry National Volcanic Monument in Oregon
Carlsabad Caverns in New Mexico

Junior Ranger Night Explorer

Find some dark sky to help kids learn about the night sky. Best completed in a dark sky park that hosts a telescope or astronomy program, like

Read More

Death Valley National Park in California
Joshua Tree National Park in California 
Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona

Click here for booklet.

Mail to the following address:

National Park Service
Natural Sounds  Night Skies Division
1201 Oakridge Drive, Suite 100
Fort Collins, CO 80525

Got a Junior Ranger that can't get to a park today? The National Park Service has 8 Junior Ranger Badges that you can earn at home, like wilderness explorer badge.

Underwater Explorer

Learn about what lies below the surface of the water. Complete at home and mail to the Submerged Resources Center.

Click here for booklet

Mail to the following address:

National Park Service
Submerged Resources Center: Junior Ranger
12795 W. Alameda Pkwy
Lakewood, CO 80228

Let’s Go Fishing Junior Ranger Badge

In a partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service kids have a new Junior Ranger badge to earn. Kids learn about fishing, aquatic habitats and fishing safety.

Click for the booklet here

Mail to the following address:

National Park Service
National Junior Ranger Program
1849 C Street NW Rm 1448
Washington, DC 20240

Underground Railroad Junior Ranger

This activity book teaches kids about slavery during the Civil War and the road to freedom. It can be completed at home.

Click here for the booklet

Note: This badge doesn’t offer a badge.

Wilderness Explorer

This badge concentrates on the outdoor knowledge needed to explore the wilderness areas within the National Park Service. The booklet also includes an answer key. This program is best for kids ages 8 and up.

Click here to booklet

Read More

Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks 
Zion National Park
Yellowstone National Park

Junior Ranger Badges for Scouts

The Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts have partnered with the National Park Service to offer a certificate or patch for registered scouts. After completing 10 hours of organized learning, like the Junior Ranger badges, or performing service projects, scouts earn the patch.

Click here for more information.

Want More? 

Did you visit a national park a while ago and didn’t do a Junior Ranger booklet? Check out to see if you can download a copy of its Junior Ranger Booklet.

Individual National Park Junior Ranger Booklets

Know Before You Go:

  • You might want to print booklets in black and white to conserve ink.
  • Pack your own pencils, preferably the mechanical type that don’t need sharpening.
  • Dress for hiking, one might be required. The parks always include shorter hikes perfect for younger kids and strollers.
  • Though designed for kids 5 to 13, my youngest earned Junior Ranger badges with my help.
  • Kids love picnics so pack a lunch. Food service can be limited.
Grab a pencil and download a booklet to earn Junior Ranger Badges from home. Great activity for in-between park trips. #NPS #juniorranger
credit: Pixabay

Grab a pencil and download a booklet to earn Junior Ranger Badges from home. Great activity for in-between park trips. #NPS #juniorranger

Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.


  1. You have adorable children – I love the hats! This is such a good idea, learning whilst having fun at the same time. Great pics.

  2. Do know who to mail it back to for the patches at NPS? I’ve been searching for that info and can’t find it….

  3. Tiffany Pirtle

    Hi! We just got home from Big Bend this weekend. It was awesome!
    I printed off and took the Night Explorer packet with us and we completed it at the park. They didn’t have the patches or booklets at the park, so I asked where to mail them and the ranger didn’t know. Would you happen to know who we can mail those into for our patches?

    • Catherine Parker

      Hi Tiffany,

      Too bad! Sometimes parks run out of patches. I have had to mail in my booklets occasionally.

      I recommend this address:

      Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division
      Natural Resource Stewardship and Science
      1201 Oakridge Dr. Suite 100
      Fort Collins, CO 80525

      I found it on this NPS page:


    Please do me a favor send badge thanks

  5. Quick question – do you know which offer the plastic badges and which do patches? I love the jr ranger program but hate the flimsy badges. Thanks!

    Also, there is a Lewis & Clark Patch out there too that they can do from home. 🙂

    • Catherine Parker

      It depends on the park superintendent and the park’s budget. Though some parks are offering wood badges from reclaimed park tree. But most parks have patches for sale in the gift store for about $4.