We had the opportunity to stop at Fort Laramie National Historic Site, in Wyoming. This was a great fort, with many restored buildings, military displays, and historically accurate furnished rooms. During the summer months, the fort offers ranger programs and has reenactors around the grounds to answer questions. And anytime of the year is a great time to participate in their Jr. Ranger program!
Fort Laramie has a great visitor’s center that had a short introductory film, a timeline for the fort and surrounding areas that covers 2 walls, and a super bookstore that offered many items that we had not seen at other National Parks. We enjoyed walking the grounds and checking out the restored buildings, several of which were furnished circa 1860s; there is an officer’s home, a store/post office, bachelor officer quarters (named Old Bedlam, probably aptly named!), and a military barracks that is fully furnished as it would have been when occupied.
We spent only 2 hours at the fort, partly because of the weather, and partly because the ranger sold the kids on their unique Jr. Ranger program; part of the book was for Fort Laramie, and part was for the nearby Guernsey State Park, and if they finished both, there was a special reward! After we walked the fort grounds, and the kids completed the fort part of the program, had their booklets checked and recieved their badges, we headed out for the 3 stops that compromised the rest of the booklet.
Our first stop was to Register Cliff, a sandstone formation which had been used as a graffiti site for wagon train travelers. Some of the inscriptions dated back to the late 1700s, and the kids had to do a page here, and another at the nearby Wagon Ruts historic site. The Wagon Ruts are just that – remnants of ruts left by wagon trains heading west, carved into rock. After those 2 stops, we were off to the Guernsey State Park CCC Visitor’s Center, where the kids learned about the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the building of the center in the late 1930s.
Once the kids had completed their entire books, the lady at the state park visitor’s center, gave them very cool metal WY state park J.R. badges, and as a bonus for completing both programs, the kids each received an interesting metal coin; one side featuring Fort Laramie and the other with a picture of Guernsey State Park. It was a great program, and the kids earned some unique souvenirs from our visit! I have posted a more indepth explanation of the programs, along with more pics on our family Ticknortribe blog.
Even if you aren’t ‘into’ the Jr. Ranger program, whether at a state or national level, I would still encourage you to visit both parks. They offer a great taste of Wyoming history!