Ranger Kathryn's Arches

April 8, 2016

Living in the Maze

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 9:42 am


Five-hole arch

Ranger life in the Maze is a different creature altogether, and I get many questions about it. Here are the most common ones; please ask if you have more.
Where do you sleep? ~ There are eight apartments with the usual amenities found in civilization, like heat and running water and toilets. And beds!
Is there electricity? ~ With 300 sunny days per year, a large photo-voltaic array has replaced the former diesel generator; it still exists for back-up. We are very frugal with our electric use.
How far to the nearest pavement? ~ 46 washboarded road miles, about 90 minutes. If you’re a raven, you could fly directly to the pavement in 24 miles.
Do you have telephone and TV? ~ Weak Verizon signals penetrate into parts of the park. No TV. Extensive movie collection of curious genres, in DVD and VHS. Funky solar-powered land line (party line) in apartments and ranger station.
How long do people live there? ~ We’re here for three months. The ‘old-timers’ have joyfully been here for 26 and 30 years.
Does the Post Office deliver mail? UPS, FedEx? ~ No. We pick it up at the PO in Green River, two hours (82 mi) away. Packages go to Moab for pick-up there, three hours away.
Are you being punished by the park service, sentenced to isolation? ~ On the contrary — pinching ourselves at the privilege of being here.
What do you do after work? ~ Read. Explore. Strum guitar. Think. Stare at the 100-mile view. Run. Bike. Play cards or board games or horseshoes. Hook up the player and watch a movie. Occasional potlucks with karaoke. Write. Read more. Photograph. Fantasize about sushi.
You’re in a desert. Where do you get water? ~ This deserves an entire post in itself. Wait for it.
What happens if someone gets hurt? ~ It’s a three-hour drive to Moab’s hospital, hours more if you’re in the backcountry. Chris and I recently took a ten-day Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course, enabling us to render immediate assistance. There are other WFRs here and a former EMT. Life-threatening situations are evacuated by helicopter.
Do you get lonely? ~ No! Extroverts might struggle with the lack of stimulation and slow pace of life, but it’s an introvert’s paradise and a balm for our souls.

Please add your own questions in the Comments section and I’ll answer them next time I have internet!


  1. So awesome!

    Comment by midsummerman — April 8, 2016 @ 10:13 pm | Reply

  2. Very informative…and fascinating!

    Comment by Kathleen Lewis — April 9, 2016 @ 7:05 am | Reply

  3. What an adventure! Towards the end of Desert Solitaire Edward Abbey writes about going into the Maze and describes it in almost mystical fashion. When I first read the book more than 25 years ago those descriptions of the the Maze district stuck with me and made me want to experience it– all of it: the isolation; the risk because of the remoteness; the sense of loneliness because of the area but not necessarily feeling lonely. I think you are very lucky. I hope I get to see it one day.

    Comment by Davis Middlemas — April 12, 2016 @ 9:44 am | Reply

    • I feel as if I have finally arrived, David. THIS is where my deepest longings have been pulling me. THIS is where serenity can still be found. THIS is where self-reliance pays dividends. I need to go back and re-re-read those sections in Desert Solitaire, because I’m sure Ed A. nailed it. The Maze is worth putting on your ‘must go’ list, and soon.

      Comment by Kathryn Colestock-Burke — April 12, 2016 @ 8:24 pm | Reply

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