June 21st, 10:43pm
Among the stacks of books we pulled from the shelves of the library, we also had the opportunity to chat with Adrienne Fitzgerald, Lead Park Ranger in Interpretation at Zion National Park. Originally from central New Jersey who studied in North Carolina, Adrienne was compelled to the dramatic geology of Utah. After college, she volunteered in many Southwestern parks before landing in Zion. We talked about the wildlife, the dark night skies, and the increased visitation, but the most impassioned part of our conversation was its most charismatic features. Yep, you guessed it: it’s geology.
Adrienne calls Zion a “geology park”—it’s what drives people to come here and what blows them away when they arrive. Adrienne shared:
“The thing that is special about Zion is the feeling that people get when they’re here. The surrounded by the landscape feeling you get here, and the fact that we’re in this harsh desert, and you drive through miles and miles of nothing but rock, but then here, you’re next to this river, that is green and lush… [it’s] technically desert, but you have this oasis…. and you get this surrounded and protected feeling from the cliffs around you that I think is so much different than so many other parks… it has an impact on people that is just unbelievable, the first time you come in. I just remember the first time I came in, that this place floored me. It’s just so big, and so dramatic. People have called it, ’Yosemite in technicolor.’’’
Our conversation drifted to the tendency for park visitors to want to visit only the park’s most iconic locations, featured often on social media or online lists with titles like “Top 10 Places You Must Go Before You Die” — places like the Narrows, Angel’s Landing, the Subway. Adrienne hopes for people to dig a little deeper, to see and appreciate the details in the nooks and crannies of the park (like spotting toads in pot holes), and appreciating “the wholeness of the park.” With the blazing afternoon heat, we’re happy to slow down and take it all in.