Mesa Verde Cliff Palace

Bruce and Sara as National Park Rangers at
Mesa Verde National Park

First Impressions and Training ....May 13-25, 2007

Mesa Verde National Park was recognized in 1906 as the seventh National Park, and it was the first park created primarily to preserve “cultural history” instead of natural resources.

And it’s big and it’s busy!

Within the park there are over 52,000 acres of land with over 4800 historical ruins and 600 alcove sites; and every year, up to 500,000 people from all over the United States and from throughout the world come here. Almost all of those visitors will visit the Museum and go on a few of the self-guided tours to places like Spruce Tree House, and many if not most will go on at least one of the regular tours to famous and well known cliff dwellings like Cliff Palace, Balcony House, and Long House.

There are tours through the cliff dwellings every half hour from 8:30 am to 6 pm---and that’s why we are busy! There are just over 30 seasonal Park Rangers here, and one of us has to be on every tour since by law, every tour has to have a regular Park Ranger leading it. There also are Park Rangers “roving” around many of the self-guided sites, working at the Museum, giving bus tours for the concessionaire, and leading evening programs at the campground. We also lead trail tours, special events, and sometimes help at the Visitor Center and other locations. And so we are busy!

This year there were 13 new seasonal Rangers in our two weeks of training. (Two or three seasonal Rangers are still coming but they haven't received their Homeland Security clearances yet.) During those two weeks we went on each of the major tours two or three times, worked on “Interpretive Techniques” and on developing meaningful and effective programs for several days, had speakers from some of the affiliated tribes at Mesa Verde and on cultural sensitivity, and renewed our CPR and AED certificates. And studied, and studied, and studied. Because at the end of two weeks, many of us had just one day off, and then starting working as regular Park Rangers, leading tours and pretending we really knew everything!

As we mentioned last year, part of the challenge of being a Park Ranger is that visitors more or less expect us to know everything… know all the history behind the sites, the geology and history of the area, and the tribal affiliations through the centuries. And they ask questions about what to see in the park if they have two days or just two hours,or how to find the closest bathroom; and many people will ask questions about plants and flowers, and birds and animals. And by the end of the summer, we get pretty good at being able to answer all those questions. But during the first few weeks, we still are memorizing the basics, trying to make sure every tour is a good experience for people even though we can’t remember every detail about every site , and just hoping we are living up to all our responsibilities to the park and to the visitors.

Of course, we know eventually we’ll be surprised at how much we have learned, and at how much we remember……..but until then, we are working hard, reading a lot, and trying to memorize what we can!

Montezuma Valley
Montezuma Valley
Point Lookout View
Point Lookout View

Square Tower
Square Tower

Tour Training
Some visitors and our new Ranger group going on a regular tour
Interpretive Training
The new Rangers and our Interpretive Training leaders, the best of the best, Amy and Tess

Linda Martin
Lnda Martin, our supervisor and trainor,
and someone who knows almost everything we need to know about how to be good Rangers!

An ongoing projectd at Mesa Verde has been work by Frank Matera and students from the University of Pennsylvania
on the plaster in most of the cliff dwellings. Part of our training was to hear about what they are doing and why.

Go to the next page..... Working at Mesa Verde National Park

Return to opening page Bruce and Sara at Mesa Verde National Park

If you don't want to receive these updates or know of anyone who should be included, please let us know!