The Fauna of Bryce Canyon (that you might actually see!)

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As I have been appropriately reminded, there haven’t been many posts here on Airstream Adventures, of late. We have just been pretty busy with half of our days being taken up with Camphost duties. The other days we have been hiking or driving to town for supplies.

I have been wanting to share some pictures of the wildlife. We are also seeing a lot of birds but I haven’t gotten any pictures of those. We really are going to have to get a book of Utah Birds. Some of them have been gorgeous but we don’t know what we are looking at!

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Last time we visited Bryce Canyon National Park, we looked and looked for the Utah Prairie Dog but never saw one. We were starting to think all the signs were just for show. They are pretty rare but it turns out the problem was timing last time – they start hibernating in August.

The Sunset Campground (where we are this summer) is just on the edge of one of the Prairie Dog towns but we ended up getting closest to one of the little critters along the trail to the Lodge. We had probably walked past him a dozen times. He was less than five feet away all along!

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They are highly endangered but seem to be doing pretty well here. We have only heard two radio calls about recovering bodies from the road (one was hit by the garbage truck.) They have to be put in the fridge at the Visitor’s Center for later analysis. Recovering dead prairie dogs is apparently one of the many duties of the Law Enforcement Rangers here at Bryce Canyon (along with Search and Rescue, dealing with problem campers, and directing traffic, just to name a few things.)

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More animals still to come …

The Job of a Camp Host

Today is May 8 and we have almost completed one month of our three month stint as Camp Hosts. It is still early but I thought I would share a bit about our experience.

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We got here just in time for a major snow storm. It was very cool (no pun intended) to get to experience Bryce Canyon blanketed in snow and it meant there weren’t many campers while we got acclimated. Unfortunatley, the weather hasn’t warmed up much since then and we’ve had to wear our cold-weather uniforms pretty much every morning we’ve been on duty.

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We can do our rounds in the Polaris but we have been opting to walk most of the time. For those of you interested in the details of the job (at least as it is here):

  • Our first round is around 7:45 AM when we pull all the tags from campsites that are leaving that day and put up signs for any sites that are reserved for the upcoming night. We also record any campers that have arrived over night. There are just under 100 campsites in our campground and it takes about a half-hour for us to walk all three loops.
  • Next round for us is just after lunch when we check for garbage and clean the fire pits in the vacated campsites and log in any new arrivals. This is usually after checkout time and we check-in with any campers that are still hanging around. Typically, we spend 1-2 hours doing this round.
  • At around 4:30, we head out again and check-in new arrivals. The majority of campers have shown up by this time. We are also watching to see if we are full throughout the afternoon. (If we are full, we have to radio the gate, put up some signs and generally make sure everyone that needs to know, knows.) This is my favorite round because a lot of campers are sitting out. (I like to tell them about the Program that is scheduled for that night at the Lodge.) If you make contact, people often have questions (like what time is sunrise, how cold is it going to get overnight, where can they get firewood and what trail should they hike.) This is the best part of the job – helping people enjoy the Park!
  • Last round is after 8 PM when generators are supposed to be off. We also check-in any late arrivals.
  • So, the annoying thing about the job is “hassling” people about the rules. We are only responsible for giving a friendly reminder and by far, the majority of people have been great about it. (There have been a couple of incidents already, though.) The challenge has been figuring out which rules people really need to be reminded about. Our “boss” has his own priority issues and of course there are safety concerns. It has taken most of the month for me to get comfortable with what to bring to the attention of the campers (and ultimately, in some cases, the attention of the Law Enforcement Ranger.)

    We have had the campsite of six 20-somethings (who were old enough to know better) setting up their tent behind the sign that said “Please Keep Off”, parking on the grass and leaving a burning fire unattended. The Law Enforcement contingent got seriously involved in this one!

    My favorite camper was the guy that showed up, got out of his truck and promptly started peeing in his campsite! He was in plain view from our site (where I was sitting at the picnic table with my mouth open not sure I was seeing this right) and the road.

    We’ve been working a three day on/three day off schedule. When the weather is good, we hike on our days off or drive to town. Only one of us has to be in camp when we are on-duty so Alan can do the wash or we take turns going to the employee gym (both of which are free.) I’ve actually gotten more sewing done here than I get at home since I can sew a lot of the day when we are on-duty … which is exactly what I’m going to go do now!