National Junior Ranger Day planned in the Smokies

Great Smoky Mountains National Park will celebrate the second annual National Junior Ranger Day on April 26 with special activities at the park’s three visitor centers from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Children and their families can join in a variety of free hands-on activities at Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, Tenn.; Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee, N.C.; and Cades Cove’s Cable Mill Visitor Center near Townsend, Tenn. Activities planned will range from searching for salamanders to making dinner bells at a blacksmith shop. Historic toy making, weaving, wildflower searches, and cornhusk doll making are a few of the other natural and cultural opportunities that will be available. Information on the specific programs is available at the visitor centers.

“National Junior Ranger Day provides a great opportunity for children and families to spend time together learning about the park that offers an array of educational experiences and recreational opportunities right in their own backyard,” said Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson. The park’s Junior Ranger program has received national awards for its specially-designed interactive programs and its four separate age appropriate booklets. The Junior Ranger booklets, produced in cooperation with Great Smoky Mountains Association, will be available for children. The booklets are designed to better serve a variety of age groups with one targeted for 5 to 6, 7 to 8, 9 to 10, and 11 to 12-year-olds and can be purchased for $2.50 each at park visitor centers.

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