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Statewide Culture 0

Opt Outside with the 2020 Iron Ranger Challenge

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My family covets time spent in nature, and in 2020, we are making it a priority to get outside more. With the state of Arkansas as our playground, we’re joining the Iron Ranger Challenge and plan to accumulate 100 miles or more of physical activity in Arkansas’s public lands.

The Iron Ranger Challenge is a unique-to-Arkansas public initiative that began in 2016 as part of the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service. Rangers and Interpreters at the Buffalo National River developed the challenge to spark interest and encourage more people to get outside, not just in National Park Service lands but in all public lands. Cassie Branstetter was recently appointed as the branch chief of interpretation at Buffalo National River.

“The Iron Ranger Challenge is important for two reasons. First, it is introducing citizens to the amazing public lands in Arkansas. Second, it encourages citizens to get out and be active.”

Although 2016 was a banner year for participation, more than 130 completion patches were awarded to challenge participants in 2019. Branstetter says they expect more than 200 people to complete the challenge in 2020.

Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

How to Complete the Iron Ranger Challenge

The Iron Ranger Challenge is completely doable for one person or a family. Between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, you must log 100 miles of physical activity. That’s less than two miles each week.

Anyone can participate. The beauty of this program is that you can complete your 100 miles in any public land area in Arkansas. You can walk, run, bike, hike or paddle through any Arkansas National Park, Arkansas State Park, US Forest Service site, National Wildlife Refuge site, Army Corps of Engineers site, or even a nearby city park.

All you need to do to record your activity is to log your miles: noting the date, location, the activity, and the distance traveled. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but the Buffalo River staff has made an online form available. Submit your log to the Buffalo Point Ranger Station via email (buff_events@nps.gov) or at the address below by Jan. 31, 2021, and they will mail you a cool patch so you can show off your accomplishment.

How you use this opportunity is up to you. You might choose a favorite location to complete your miles or use this as a chance to get out and explore new lands. As long as you are getting outside, you, too, can be a part of the movement. How will you earn your 2020 Iron Ranger Challenge badge?

Need some ideas to get started? Check out these posts about some of Arkansas’s public land spaces.

Photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Find more information about the 2020 Iron Ranger Challenge here. Completed logs can be mailed any time before January 31, 2021.

Buffalo National River
2020 Iron Ranger Challenge
402 N. Walnut Street, Suite 136
Harrison, AR 72601

Cover photo of Sam’s Throne courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.

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Julie Kohl works from home as a writer and virtual assistant while raising her young son. A former Yankee who was "converted" to the south by her husband, Julie has grasped on to rural life in a sleepy, blink-your-eyes-and-you'll-miss-it town in central Arkansas. Julie loves adventure. Not necessarily "scare-your-pants-off" adventure but the kind where you seek out new and exciting things. New foods, new places, new experiences. On her blog, Seek Adventures, Julie shares about the outdoor and travel adventures of her family as they camp and standup paddleboard across the South. You can also learn more about her writing on her site Seek Adventures Media.

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