Today we’re sharing another post in our 2019 “Park Chaser Profiles” series. Each Q & A interview features the story of a national park traveler. Whether you are visiting your first park or your 400th, we hope the travel tips and shared experience helps inspire your next national park adventure. Check out today’s post with Aida, America’s most accomplished National Park Junior Ranger.
Park Chaser Profile: Aida Frey, @JuniorRangerAida
Total Park Count: 311 of 419 national parks
Most Recent Park: Little River Canyon in Alabama for an Earth Day event, I was there about 9 years ago it was really cool to be able to go back to where I first started my love for the National Parks.
Where can we find you online?
If you search “Junior Ranger Aida Frey” you can find interviews, my website that has my travels, my social media accounts and you could read my published book! There are plenty of things to look at and hopefully, it would inspire you to visit more National Parks.
You can also check out this interview that Aida did with the NPS at San Antonio Missions:
About Aida Frey
How did your interest in the National Parks get started?
I started visiting the National Parks when I was 9 years old in Effigy Mounds, Iowa. At that age, I had zero
When did you decide to start sharing your national park interest online?
I started to share my travels when people were interested in how many parks we visited. Visitors asked me if I was homeschooled or if we owned an RV when in reality we’re just regular people who just love to travel. I wanted to meet people like me who visit the National Parks and make friends so we could share our experiences. Meeting fellow Junior Rangers or other visitors is a great feeling because we can relate to the love of traveling.
What does this Junior Ranger love the most about National Parks?
My favorite thing to do is get my Junior Ranger badge and to meet cool people. I attract a lot of attention when I’m wearing all of my badges and vest, so a lot of visitors want to stop and talk for a bit. I love hearing other people’s stories and I like it when people ask me about my own travels. Helping other kids with their booklets is also fun, the more people I talk to, the better the experience! I also love watching the Park video, it gives a great idea of what to expect when you go out and explore.
Tell us more about those badges. 300+ is a lot to collect!
I’ve been to 317 Parks and not once have I missed a badge! It means a lot to me to collect them since I started when I was a little kid, I want to keep the tradition up and collect all of them someday.
Do you have another favorite memory about the parks?
Visiting my 300th National Park in Cane River Creole was something that I will never forget. I was named Superintendent of the day and even got to wear the special park ranger badge! They specifically made me a special badge that has my name and park number on it and a huge certificate. Along with that, they introduced a new badge to the Park Service and made me the first Junior Ranger to receive it! I also got to drive around the park in a golf cart since I was superintendent!
Park Chasing Advice from Junior Ranger Aida & Her Family
With more than 300 parks, you have some serious travel planning experience. How do you decide where to travel to next?
Since we live in Chicago and already visited 45 States, it’s getting harder for us to travel long distances since because we only drive.
What other resources do you use when planning trips?
Our resources include our map and computer to reserve hotels and tickets, along with our car. We also call ahead to the Park we plan to visit and see if they can send us a pamphlet so we can read up and learn something along the way.
What advice do you have for friends and family who ask about the time and money it takes to travel so much?
I say it’s worth spending the time and money, exploring our country and traveling is one of the best things you can do in life. I have taken some of my friends and family to visit the National Parks and they have absolutely loved it! I hope I can encourage more people to see these beautiful places.
Any other tips you’d give to someone who is just starting their #parkchasing list?
I would say be as detailed as possible and be specific. We always take a picture in front of the National Park sign so we remember how to organize our photos and keep track of where we’ve been. My advice would be to set a habit when traveling. For example, we always take a picture of the park sign, stamp our book and collect the Jr. Ranger badge. It is easier to keep track of where you went and more organized when you want to share your fun travels!
Thanks for reading about Junior Ranger Aida!
If you or a friend would like to be featured in one of our Park Chaser profiles, submit a form on our “Work With Us” page and you may be featured in our 2019 series!