A Mesa Verde Canyon Cliff Palace

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

Working at Mesa Verde Natational Park--2007
(not finished!)

Currently there are over 390 areas which make up the National Park System and this includes all the national parks, national monuments, national seashores, national historic sites, national battlefields, etc. And each one has its own traditions and styles. And like most of the larger and more historical parks in the west, Mesa Verde National Park is known for being “pretty strict and very traditional”.

In part this is because historically many of the parks in the west had been created before there was a National Park Service, and they had been managed by the military. Consequently, the dress code has always tended to be a little more rigid and traditional. For instance, everyday we wear what is known as the “class A” uniform (fairly formal polyester/wool pants with well-polished leather shoes and the traditional hat.) And we make sure visitors never see us half dressed , partially dressed, or in the process of getting dressed, and we wear our traditional hats all the time---between our cars and the buildings, on tours except when they have to come off to fit through tunnels and rocks, and whenever we are roving (e.g. anywhere and all the time.)

And because of the size and constant activity at the park, our daily schedules are very well defined. From the time we are on duty until the end of the day, our days are scheduled---sometimes we barely have enough time to go to the bathroom between tours and often we regret we don’t have more time to talk with visitors before and after tours. But the park is busy, and it’s trying to do a lot of things in a fairly large geographic area with a relatively small staff. And so the days are long and busy! (See some typical daily schedules at Four Typical Days .)

For us, most days end up being approximately 11 hours from the time we leave Oliver and our motor home (the Pursuit) until Oliver gets to see us again. From our campground at the entrance of the park to the park headquarters and the museum (our base of operations and where our “lockers” and mailboxes are located), the drive usually is a winding series of switchbacks that takes 45 minutes during which we climb from 7000 feet to 8500 feet and back down to 7000 feet. And unfortunately, they are doing road work this summer, so often we have to allow a little more time for trucks and construction delays.

Nevertheless, in spite of the long days, and tired feet, and the continual sense that we have to learn more and study more, we are having fun and doing what we dreamed of doing!!

Here's a picture of us in this year's more formal uniform:

<u>The </u> Mesa Verde Rangers!
Here we are in our Class A Uniforms!

Part of our responsibilities as Interpretive Park Rangers is to learn as much as we can about the Park and its history and culture, and as much as we can about the Ancestral Puebloan people who had lived here (formerly called the Anasazi). When we were first hired, we were sent a box with ten books and were told to read them, "memorize" the contents, and arrive at the Park ready to talk intelligently about what's here. Then we had two weeks of intense training in everything from Puebloan culture to CPR. And then on Memorial Day weekend, we started giving tours!!

Part of our training also included learning about kivas---what often had been described as sacred ceremonial rooms. Increasingly there's a lot of evidence that in this Mesa Verde area, or what is called the Northern San Juans, kivas were used for "intense residential use" with only occasional ceremonial use. And so during our tours, we try to describe these differences in interpretation and why some Rangers will describe them one way and others will describe them as "multi-purpose" rooms.
a tradtional keve
A tradtional keva at Cliff Palace

Leaning about pictrographs and petroglyphs has also been fun....but there are few of these here!
tradtional Puebloan designs
A traditional design from a Cliff Palace room

Unfortunately, Oliver can't work with us and so he spends a lot of time in the motor home just waiting for us! And when he has a chance to just sit and enjoy the woods or just enjoy being outdoors, he loves it!

<u>The </u> Mesa Verde Rangers!
Oliver spends a lot of time just looking out the front window
of the motor home waiting for us!
  Oliver just enjoying the grass!
Oliver just enjoying the grass!

Go to the next page..... Hikes, Day-Trips, and Weekend Explorations

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