Junior Ranger Tour
The Black Hills is home to a higher-than-average number of national parks, monuments, and historic sites. That makes Keystone the perfect place to help the Junior Ranger in your family work on their badge collection! This itinerary will take more than one day, but the variety of locations and learning opportunities in our area are unmatched.
If your kids aren’t Junior Rangers, all they have to do is stop by the information desk at each park to get their activity book. The program is free for all children, and upon completion children will receive a badge or certificate.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Right up the street from downtown Keystone, start your Junior Ranger journey at Mount Rushmore National Memorial. You’ll learn how long the memorial took to make and the tools used to make it happen, as well as the people who designed and carved it.
Mount Rushmore also has a Junior Ranger Trainee program for kids ages 3-4 that focuses on the natural habitat around the memorial.
For kids ages 13 and up, the Rushmore Ranger booklet provides a slightly more advanced guide to the memorial.
Head back into town and have lunch at BaRLee’s! Their menu has something for everyone — even picky eaters — and you can enjoy their large patio while you decide your next move.
If you head west of town, you can find three more National Parks to explore; Devil’s Tower, Jewel Cave and Wind Cave.
Devil’s Tower National Monument
Our nation’s first national monument is in northeastern Wyoming, and it’s well worth the drive. Junior Ranger activities include art based on plants and animals as well as information about geological formations found on site.
Jewel Cave National Monument
Jewel Cave is the third longest cave in the world, and your Junior Ranger will get to explore with ranger-guided activities and tours. Activities help kids learn about the geology of the cave underground, but also the wildlife and plants above ground.
The monument also has a pee wee program for kids under 5 to explore with their parents.
Wind Cave National Park
The first cave to be designated a National Park, Wind Cave was named for the unique barometric winds found at its entrance.
Junior Rangers can take a cave tour or learn about the cave during a discovery talk, then complete the activities in their booklet. They’ll learn about the fragile ecosystem of the cave, and about the unique animals that call the cave home.
Badlands National Park
Badlands offers a Junior Ranger book for kids ages 5-12, and one for 5 and under. Learn about how the Badlands got their name and the unique natural features found in the park. Turn in your finished booklet and watch a movie at the visitor center to get your badge.
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site
This small museum out on the prairie isn’t on most families’ radar, but it should be! For nearly three decades our country was protected by the silent sentries in missile silos. You’ll learn why the missiles were important for national defense and how the Air Force operators lived while on duty. The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site has three Junior Ranger programs for kids 6 and under, 7 to 11 years old, and over 12 years of age.
American Pines Cabins
With all the exploring you’ll do on this itinerary, you’ll need somewhere comfortable to stay. Check out the American Pines Cabins for a serene family retreat in the wods. You can all stay together in a great cabin and talk about your day’s adventures next to the soothing creek.
If you don’t have time to finish your Junior Ranger booklet while in the park, or forget to turn it in before leaving, don’t fret! Most parks will let you mail the completed booklets, which will be checked and returned with a badge in the mail.
Want to get the kids excited before you go? Several of the parks offer a virtual ranger program online!