The Smoky Mountains being the incredible, multi-layered and varied biome that it is, it follows that there will be a large amount of activities that are perfect for kids and young families to enjoy. The Sugarlands Visitor’s Center alone is a good few-hours spent in the National Park for various reasons, and that’s before you consider other hiking trails or things like scavenger hunts in the park.
One of the best things we can recommend is to check out the Junior Ranger Program that the Smoky Mountains National Park Rangers provide for kids to get interested in the Smokies. Becoming a Junior Ranger is done in two ways – picking up a Junior Ranger booklet ($2.50) from a Smoky Mountain Visitor’s Center, Cades Cove or Elkmont and completing the activities listed in the booklet or take part in specific Junior Ranger programs that are held in the Spring, Summer and Fall. These programs are divided into age groups; ages 5 to 6, ages 7 to 8, ages 9 to 10, and ages 11 to 12.
What can your youngster expect if they were interested in becoming a Junior Ranger? Take a look:
* Visiting and Q&A with a National Park ranger.
* Visiting historical structures and cabins in the Smokies.
* Learning how to identify animals by the… “tracks” they leave behind (and I don’t mean footprints!)
* Helping to maintain the park’s cleanliness and health by picking up trash from designated areas.
* Feeding pigs at the Mountain Farm Museum.
* Getting to explore the Smokies at night.
* Games both online and off.
* Wading through a mountain stream to look for certain types of bugs.
And more for the upcoming seasons.
Become a junior ranger at https://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/kidsyouth/beajuniorranger.htm.