The Niobrara National Scenic River was busy on Saturday, April 17th as over 130 participants enjoyed Outdoor Family Fun Day. The event kicked off National Park Week and celebrated Junior Ranger Day. Kids of all ages visited seven activity stations in order to earn their official Junior Ranger Day patch.
“Everyone seemed to have a great time getting outside as families and sharing in the activities, said Chief of Interpretation and Education Sandi Kinzer, Thanks to the families who participated and our partners and volunteers, it was a roaring success.” When responding on the park’s Facebook Fan Page, Roxane Troxel said “Thanks, we had a lot of fun!”
Rangers introduced folks to the amazing fossil mammal deposits of the area by digging for “fossils” in chocolate chip cookies. Exploring how to “fool” a fish offered a chance to cast a fly rod and match tied flies with the insects they represent. Learning all about the tiny “water monsters” who call the river home highlighted water quality. Participants viewed a demonstration of the areas unique geology and hydrology at the base of Smith Falls, thanks to park partners at the Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District.
Animal tracks, scat and skins, and skulls offered a glimpse into the biodiversity of the area and provided families a chance to test their knowledge of Niobrara river mammals. Everyone delighted in cooking their own hot dogs and s’mores over a campfire tended by the Niobrara Council staff and volunteers. One participant said “this is so neat, we got to cook it ourselves, I want to do this again”. Just over 50 participants enjoyed a first time canoe ride with park rangers and volunteers at the helm to teach canoe skills. An alphabet scavenger hunt topped off the day’s planned activities.
This event never would have happened without multiple agencies and volunteers working together. Smith Falls State Park allowed the use of their facilities; while other partners and volunteers helped to provide activities and keep things running smoothly. Plans are underway to make this an annual spring family event.