June 20th, 9:08pm
Even after a long day of field work in the hot Utah sun, Ranger Sarah Horton found time to speak with us about her park. Across the country, it continues to be inspiring to meet rangers so dedicated and passionate about their work.
As the Cultural Resources Manager at Zion National Park, Sarah ensures that the rich human stories of the park are told well: be it working with Paiute tribes to represent Native American stories, with locals to tell of early Mormon Settlers, researching the history of the Union Pacific Railroad (whose early boosterism and construction of Zion Lodge lured visitors out west), or with her colleagues to capture the 100+ years of the National Park story at Zion.
For as crowded as Zion can get, one of Sarah’s favorite features of the park, and one that she was almost reluctant to tell, is how easily one can get away from the crowds. Because Zion Canyon and its shuttle structures the typical visitor experience, it contains the majority of visitors in Zion Canyon. Which leaves the western Kolob Canyons to visit at your own pace, and the east Mt. Carmel side open to wonder why the landscape looks like it’s been “wrenched around.”
For Sarah, Zion is a “medium size park with a big impact.” She recalled:
“I can remember my first day at Zion… As part of my orientation to learn about the park, my new supervisor and I got in one of the vehicles, and started driving around… and we went to what is probably my favorite place in the entire park, which is the Cave Valley area, up on Kolob Terrace road. The rock forms natural caves—not deep caves, they’re really more like alcoves—but that part of the park is just so beautiful… the views from up there, the rock formations, are some of the most dramatic things I’ve ever seen. And he took me up there on that first day… even when I think about it now, it gets me choked up, because it was such a transformational moment. We were walking back to the vehicle, and I thought, ‘Oh my god! This is my PARK! Holy cow!’ And I’ve been here ever since.”
After a few days baking in the Utah sun ourselves and pondering our own feelings about this place, we can’t help but see the landscape through a new perspective… through Sarah’s infectious joy and love for her park.