Paterson New Jersey is home to one of New Jersey’s most beautiful waterfalls!
Not only are the waterfalls at Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park truly majestic but they are also quite significant when it comes to waterfalls on the East Coast. The Paterson Great Falls are the second largest waterfall east of the Mississippi. How fortunate are we that they are ours to share in New Jersey?!
It’s only within the last year or so I learned that New Jersey has waterfalls. When I was given the opportunity to test drive the Mazda CX-9 over spring break I knew immediately I wanted to take my boys up to see the Paterson Great Falls. Bonus! The Paterson Great Falls is a National Historical Park that participates in the Junior Ranger badge program. Ever since earning Junior Ranger Badges at the Fredericksburg Battlefield, my boys have been eager to earn more. Now since New Jersey is home to so many National Parks, spring break seemed the perfect time to start earning Junior Park Ranger badges and the Paterson Great Falls was the perfect place to earn our first New Jersey Junior Park Ranger badges. You can visit our listing of National Parks in New Jersey here.
Visiting the Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park is a great way to teach your kids about some of New Jersey’s historical moments and figures. Paterson, in Passaic County, was the nation’s first planned industrial city. Alexander Hamilton had a vision spurred by the water power of the falls, to have Paterson rival the Industrial Revolution developing in England in the late 170os. It worked, and silk mills, cotton mills and other factories came to the city and remained in operation until the post World War II era. You can learn about Melanie’s visit to the Paterson Great Falls in her article, Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park & The Day With No Falls!
Paterson Great Falls Junior Ranger Badges
Here’s how the Paterson Great Falls Junior Ranger Badges program works.
- The Paterson Great Falls Junior Ranger booklet is 20 pages. You can either print the Paterson Great Falls Junior Ranger Badge Workbook from this link or you can pick up a copy of the booklet in the National Park Ranger office at Paterson Great Falls. The Junior Ranger booklet lists the requirements and activities necessary to earn a Junior Ranger badge at Paterson Great Falls.
- The nice thing about earning a Junior Ranger badge at Paterson Great Falls is that the requirements are based on your child’s age. Children under age 9 are only required to complete 6 of the activities. Older children must complete 7 activities. Some activities overlap and others are based on age.
- Earning a Junior Ranger badge is not difficult. The majority of the time the workbooks go in the same order as the path or trail. As you work your way around the Paterson Great Falls your child can complete the activities. While the requirements do ask kids to think, the activities also have kids engaging all their senses and skills.
Paterson Great Falls Junior Ranger Badges Requirements
For all ages
- My boys identified something they saw at the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park that inspired them. For all of them it was the waterfalls, but each of them picked a different waterfall scene. There is a space to sketch out a drawing on the pages of the workbook, but my boys used a sketch pad for their drawings. Then they wrote about how the image inspired them in the space provided in the workbook.
- Geology activity: On one page, my boys had to match the image to the correct type of rock.
- There was another page where my boys had to match the description of a person to the image of that person. This could potentially be a difficult activity. However, there are words in the description that will help your child determine who is who.
- Walking along the Paterson Great Falls path there are 6 activities for kids. Most of them just ask kids to stop at certain points and use all their senses to experience the Falls.
For children younger than 9 years old
- My 8-year-old son had to design his own arrowhead on one of the workbook pages.
- The Scavenger Hunt Bingo had my son on the hunt for landmarks. He enjoyed ringing the bell to earn a mark on the free space.
For kids age 9 and older
- There is a word association activity that my two oldest sons had to list what different words mean to them.
- My older boys had to do some critical thinking as they read about Alexander Hamilton and answered questions about him.
- Word Scramble – Using the facts and the mixed up letters my boys deciphered what each correct word should be.
The Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park Junior Ranger badge booklet also includes optional activities like visiting the Paterson Museum and a word search. Bonus, the word list for the word search can help your child complete the word scramble.
My boys completed all of their activities in just about 2 hours. It probably could be done in less time but of course, you and your family are going to want to stop and appreciate the many different views of the waterfalls. We stopped back into the park ranger office, where after showing the park ranger their workbooks each of my boys were awarded a Paterson Great Falls Junior Ranger badge. The Paterson Great Falls Junior Ranger Badges are a gold-like plastic shield that can be pinned onto clothing. We also learned the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park is part of a three park group of parks with the Morristown National Historical Park and Thomas Edison National Historical Park. If my boys earn a Junior Ranger badge at each of these parks, they will receive a special certificate acknowledging their achievement.
You can watch our National Historical Park Paterson Great Falls Junior Ranger Badge ceremony in the video below.
Special note: During our visit to the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park a footbridge was closed. Walking along the bridge is one of the Paterson Great Falls Junior Ranger badges’ activities. However, we were able to walk a different route to see everything we needed to in order to earn the Junior Ranger badges.
Pack a picnic if you can. Earning Paterson Great Falls Junior Ranger Badges can make your kids hungry and the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park is such a beautiful setting for a family picnic. Take advantage of a table near the bottom of the falls or bring a blanket to eat in the grass along the top of the falls.
Find more of our Paterson Great Fall pictures in our Facebook Gallery.
Below is a short video slideshow, but click through to our Facebook album to see all of our pictures.
Have your kids earned their Junior Ranger badges from the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park or anywhere else?
We’d love to hear about their adventures and learning. You can click on the image below to follow the journey of the Jersey Family Fun kids earning their Junior Ranger badges.
To arrange a feature on your location contact Jennifer Auer, Jersey Family Fun editor & publisher at [email protected].