Junior Rangers is a very popular California State Parks’ program, offered in over 70 state parks.  On the San Mateo County coast, Half Moon Bay State Beach offers a year-round program and Butano State Park offers a summertime-only program for Junior Rangers for children aged 6 to 12 and Little Ocean Explorers for children aged 3-5.  Dates and times for each park’s programs can be found both on the Calendar and under Events and Activities.  Parents are required to accompany Little Ocean Explorers.

The program has two primary goals:

  • Provide an opportunity for children to participate in fun, hands-on activities designed especially for them;
  • Develop an appreciation for the cultural and natural resources preserved in state parks, an awareness of the interrelationship among those resources, and a desire to help protect them.

The one-hour programs cover a variety of topics, including animals, plants, geology, history, weather, recycling, safety and park careers.  They are tailored to the local environment and the resources of the park where the program is held.  Each activity provides a worthwhile experience that promotes further thought and action by the child, rather than just instruction.

You can participate at one park over several days or you can start at one park and then do other programs at different parks.

 At your first Junior Ranger program you will get a logbook and badge like the ones pictured on this page.  For each activity you will earn a stamp in your logbook.  As you go through the program, you will earn some very cool rewards!  Play games, hike trails, create your own animal, discover tracks, observe wildlife, all while making friends your own age.

The Junior Ranger program is offered free of charge to visitors who have already paid park entrance or camping fees.

(Photo: courtesy CA State Parks)
(Photo: courtesy CA State Parks)
(Photo: courtesy CA State Parks)