RV Job #3 was at Kodachrome Basin, a Southern Utah State Park in the middle of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. I had sent my resume to them back in late September of 2010, and now at last, that job was about to start.
So, on July 14, I left Arizona and drove 183 miles west and north. Incredibly the cliffs got even redder as I drove, especially after turning onto SR12 and entering Dixie National Forest and the Red Canyon. The road led past the entrance to Bryce Canyon with its cliffs and hoodoos of tan, ochre, pink, coral, terra cotta and red, then through the little towns of Tropic and Cannonville, and finally to my destination. This is where I would stay until the end of October.
I had volunteered to be a camp host, which in my mind meant I would be surrounded by campers. Instead I had a site with full hookups, adjacent to the Visitor Center parking lot. A big gopher snake lived next to the sewer hookup and scared the heck out of me when I first caught sight of him.
There is no cell service at the park. You need to drive 9 miles to Cannonville to make calls. Of course there was no internet service either, but there is DSL at the Visitor Center which I was welcome to use. There’s a small motel with cabins tucked away in the park and I discovered eventually that I could use their WiFi password and get an internet connection in their parking lot.
I thought when the current camp host left I would move up to the campground. But I discovered during that first week that a couple would arrive at the end of July to fill that position. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that as my site was pretty isolated, especially after 9:00pm when the rangers locked the Visitor Center for the night and left. I kept the curtains closed – partly to block the sun, but also because everyone driving through the parking area looked into my rig. There was a post, covered with a plastic bag, at the front of my space. After a week or so, the bag was removed. The sign said: “Camp Host.”
Once the sign was visible, every other night or so, some late arrival knocked on my door around 10. “I have a reservation and don’t know where to go." I would be sitting in bed, reading, ready to turn out the light, but would throw on a robe and talk through the window, telling them where to go.
I wasn’t too happy with this situation and talked to Aaron, the Park Supervisor. I had no way to contact anyone should there be a problem. Of course I could get dressed, go open the office and use the phone there, but that didn’t seem like a good solution. I’m fairly brave, but felt pretty vulnerable.
Luckily, Aaron told me I could move my rig into the ranger housing area – there was a site with hookups which had a trailer on it, but that could be moved. So on August 10, I moved Mehitabel to the new site. I noticed that the bag was put back over the sign.
So, if you’re volunteering for a camp host job at this park, make sure you ask where your site will be. I’ve learned that most camp host jobs in the campgrounds are given to couples. It’s rare that a single woman is given that job.
I loved my new home, surrounded by the red cliffs and the sedimentary pipes that Kodachrome Basin is noted for. I could leave the curtains open. The ranger houses were nearby. Liz and Rachel, the two full-time ranger aides, lived in one, which had a washer and dryer I could use. Aaron and his wife lived in the other. There was an ancient juniper which gave late afternoon shade over my picnic table, though it was still too hot to think about hanging around outside except in the early morning and late evening.
The park has a horse-riding concession and the horses are
kept overnight in a corral by the maintenance shed, so every morning and late
afternoon, a cowboy led a string of saddled horses along the gravel road right
In Cannonville there is a Post Office/Library/Health Clinic/Goodwill. That’s where I rented a mailbox, traded books, and donated clothes and shoes. There’s also an KOA RV park there with a big laundry room. So, if for some reason you don’t get permission to use the facilities in the rangers' house, you can go there.
The nearest grocery store is in Tropic, another few miles up the road, and it’s not very big. There’s a much better store in Panguitch, about an hour from the park. The nearest Wal-Mart is two hours away in Cedar City – a beautiful drive.
By mid-August RV job #3 was full time at Kodachrome. Aaron had heard me talking to Liz about looking for a paid position, and said they needed another ranger aide. I jumped at the chance. This was in 2011 and I was paid a bit over $9/hour.
Kodachrome is a small park. There were the three of us, Brandon, who constituted the entire maintenance department, and Aaron, the supervisor.
There were three shifts and these were rotated. So there were some days I’d have the late shift, work until 10, and then have the early shift, starting at 7 the next morning. The responsibilities covered walking the campground, cleaning restrooms and showers, collecting fees and helping folks at the Visitor Center gift shop.
September is the busiest month at the park and the weather is starting to cool by then. Many folks come for just one night but they’re back the next morning to see if they can stay longer. It’s a beautiful park and this area of southern Utah is a hikers’ paradise: there are wonderful hikes in the park itself as well as relatively nearby - Bryce Canyon is a half hour away, Zion is a two hour drive, Cedar Breaks National Monument is 1.5 hours away and, of course, there’s all of Grand Staircase-Escalante to explore, and Capital Reef National Park. I enjoyed RV job #3 immensely.
If you can, plan to give yourself an extra week or two - either before your job starts or after it ends - so you'll have a chance to enjoy the hiking and do some real exploring in this part of Utah. If you're volunteering you can usually find the time, but if you're full-time, it's not so easy.