Junior Ranger Program

Yonni backpack web Junior Ranger Program

Kids, meet Grandfather’s best friend, Yonni!

Hi Junior Rangers! I’m Yonni, a Yonahlossee Salamander from Grandfather Mountain! I help kids explore the mountain, and use what they learn at home, too! When you visit Grandfather Mountain, you can pick up a Junior Ranger booklet at the display beside the paved path as you start down to the animal habitat area, to get to know me better. It’ll take you on a fun scavenger hunt, help you explore a trail, learn cool facts about the nature around you, and let you meet some of my friends.

I ask my Junior Rangers to do one thing to protect the planet—anything you want! We don’t all have to do everything, but we do have to help take care of the world we live in. What will you do? Maybe:

  • Turn off the lights when you leave a room?
  • Recycle plastic bottles and aluminum cans?
  • Remind your family to bring along reusable bags when they shop?
  • Turn off the water when you brush your teeth?

Pledge to do one thing when you complete your booklet, and you’ll become an official Junior Ranger with your own badge!

Special Events that are Fun for Junior Rangers

Daily, year-round weather and climate observations
Help members of the Naturalist staff take weather and climate observations in front of the Fudge Shop.  11 am every day.
Free with park admission.

Animal Enrichments

Offered daily April – October

An enrichment is anything that breaks up an animal’s day–maybe a special scent or toy newly introduced into their habitat. Visitors to Grandfather are encouraged to view the animal enrichments, as they provide a great opportunity to see each animal active and close to the overlook of the habitat.

No additional cost.
11 am: Deer Overlook
11:30 am: Bear Overlook
12 pm: Otter Overlook
12:15 pm: Cougar Overlook
1:00 pm: Bear Overlook
1:30 pm: Deer Overlook
2:00 pm: Bear Overlook
2:30 pm: Cougar Overlook
3 pm: Otter Overlook
3:30 pm: Bear Overlook

Behind the Scenes Tours

Offered on weekends April – October

See where the cougars and otters sleep overnight, meet black bears that are not commonly on display, learn the ins and outs of what it takes to care for the animals year-round, observe a training session and find out why the animals call Grandfather Mountain home.
$30 per person. $25 for annual pass holders.

Keeper for a Day

Offered April – October

Come spend your day shadowing and working alongside the keepers of the Animal Habitats. Learn how to interact with the animals, clean up, prepare food and provide enrichments. Observe various training sessions, animal behavior and the inner workings of the animal habitats.
The cost is $150.00 per participant ($120.00 each for annual pass holders). Admission to the park, a t-shirt and lunch is included.
The three-hour cost is $75 per participant ($60 each for annual pass holders). Admission to the park and a t-shirt is included.

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  • My wife and I along with our daughter, son in law and grand daughter recently visited the mountains and one of the highlights was our trip the Grandfather Mt. The reason it was great was because everything is handicap accessible.  My wife is wheelchair bound and we were able to include her in everything even the bridge. She was so happy because she was able to tell everyone the story of the first time she ever walked across the bridge and how it was made of wood. The animal park was the best and the highlight for our grand daughter. We were on vacation for a week and the trip to Grandfather was the last day and we truly saved the best for last. Thank you for all you do to make this State Treasure open to all.
    Chocowinity, NC
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