Ranger Kathryn's Arches

July 24, 2009

Watch as Ranger Kathryn opens the Visitor Center

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 7:34 pm

[Please forgive formatting glitches.  I tried to edit it four times, to no avail.]

Hey, follow behind me as I do my morning duties on the opening shift! You can see what I do regularly. First thing: Get to work on time, which in this case means 0715 as we open at 0730. Check my watch to see how I am doing.

Looks like I am on time

Looks like I am on time

I enter the long hallway of “back offices” in which we all work.

The hallway of back offices

The hallway of back offices

I get the weather report and put the latest forecast up on the whiteboard, along with yesterday’s high and low. Some days I get tired of writing “hot and sunny, 101 degrees” so I just write “same old same old.”

Yeah, it'll be another hot one...

Yeah, it'll be another hot one...

I wipe the eight touch-screens clean.

use water only!  no windex!

use water only! no windex!

I grab my ranger hat off the hat-holding-rack assigned to me.

I raise the flag at precisely 0730.



I put my hat back in the rack, as it is for outside wear only, and wait for visitors with questions. I answer them patiently, kindly, with a big smile and a lot of enthusiasm. I joke with them. I sell them tickets to the Fiery Furnace ranger-led tour.

If there is a lull in the action, I take a spray bottle outside and clean our statues. Nice desert bighorn sheep! (Haven’t seen a live one yet.)



I customize my instructions and itinerary for every individual, based on their time limit, their physical activity level, and their interests. If they walk up to me and say, “Ihave only two hours to see your park; what do you suggest?” (which happens more than you can believe), I may say “Drive two miles to the very first viewpoint, Park Avenue, and park your car. Get out. Walk to the overlook. Take a picture. Cry because you will miss a ton of cool things. Come back when you can!”

But mostly, I have fun. I try to find new ways to say the same old thing over and over again. I say it with conviction, since I am 100% certain that this is one of the coolest national parks I know. It would be wonderful if each of you reading this could come some day.

creating a custom visit plan

creating a custom visit plan


  1. K,
    That was a nice idea – letting us ‘look on’ as you go through your typical day. That’s the Bread & Butter of your avocation – the jam & honey are the cool explorations and trips you take – and somehow, I get this very subtle sense that you enjoy all of it, no?

    Comment by Dad — July 25, 2009 @ 11:40 am | Reply

    • oh, yes, yes, yes! I enjoy ALL of my job. The desk may be less-enjoyed by some, simply because it becomes repetitive, but there is always enough diversity to keep me on my toes. You saw only the first hour of my day… I’ll capture more another time.

      Comment by kath56ryn — July 26, 2009 @ 8:38 am | Reply

  2. It just occurred to me . . . do park rangers salute superior officer park rangers?
    Do park rangers have ‘ranks’ like military and police officers?
    I have the impression that while police may be para-military, park rangers are one more step removed from ‘the Military’ even though they wear uniforms and are called ‘Rangers’.

    Comment by Dad — July 25, 2009 @ 11:43 am | Reply

    • No, no saluting. Plenty of nodding, waving, smiling, hello-ing.

      Comment by kath56ryn — July 26, 2009 @ 8:36 am | Reply

  3. LOVE seeing you in action!!!! Makes it even more real for your readers. I will only visit Arches National Park if Ranger Kathryn is my guide….

    Comment by Becky Colestock — July 26, 2009 @ 6:11 am | Reply

  4. If KCB is on duty next summer I’d love to visit!! Maybe May or Sept. when it’s not so hot…

    Comment by Kathy Lewis — July 26, 2009 @ 9:22 pm | Reply

  5. Ranger Kathryn,

    Now that you have given us a sample of your daily duties as ranger how about a sample of your apartment where you go and fresshen up at the end of the day?


    Comment by Chris — July 28, 2009 @ 7:54 am | Reply

    • OK, thanks for the idea! Since I cleaned the apartment, it is photo-worthy. I’ll get on that for my next piece…

      Comment by kath56ryn — July 28, 2009 @ 7:58 am | Reply

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