You are here

Looking For A New, And Unusual, Career? Head To Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve


The National Park Service is seeking someone to lead guided tours through the historic buildings of the Kennecott mill in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska.

Considering a change of career, and looking for something quite unusual? Consider heading to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska to oversee guided tours of the historic buildings at Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1986, the Kennecott oepration is "considered the best remaining example of early 20th Century copper mining," according to the park.

The primary service to be provided is guided interpretive tours within the historic district.

You can find information concerning the financial terms of the contract, utilization and operating information, a market area overview and the selection factors used to award the contract by visiting this site.

The Prospectus is available for download at Hard copies are available upon request.Please contact Mark Keogh, Concessions Manager, at 907-822-7223 to request a copy.


I subscribe to the old school idea that lack of money should not keep anyone from an interpretive program. I recently saw a park charging for its Junior Ranger program and thought that was crazy. The people who will pay for interpretation are the people who have already been “reached”. Most interpretation (in my opinion) is motivating people to want to learn more. People who pay to come to programs are already motivated to learn more, not that they should not be welcomed at programs but we have already accomplished our goals with them.

As for the NPS charging for cave tours, I give cave tours so I can explain why we charge. We charge out of convenience, we only have a limited number of spots available and we need a way of managing the tours. If we simply offered free coupons we would then have to worry more about how early to offer them for the tours, 1 hour beforehand, 2 hours before hand, a day beforehand, a week beforehand? It would get out of hand quickly and we would have people who placed reservations that would not show up and we could not give their place away, people are a lot more likely to redeem a ticket they paid for than a free coupon. And the amount of money we make each day is so insignificant we would never make more than $150 a day. That certanly does not pay for the NPS cost of the tour.

Lee Dalton:
And yet, Ranger Paul, there seems to be an increasing tendency in parks to charge for hikes and other programs led by NPS interpreters. Mesa Verde's ruins tours and Great Basin's Lehman Cave come to mind immediately.

I don't know of any NPS cave "tours" (I've walked unguided through caves free) that have been free. I've been on the NPS ranger guided tour at Timpanagos Caves, as well as the nonprofit-guided tour at Crystal Cave in Sequoia NP. Even the latter had to be purchased at an NPS visitor center directly from the information desk manned by a ranger.

Of course this could turn into something completely different if for-profit companies staked a concession. There's Boyden Cavern in Sequoia NF, where a private company staked a claim to operate a tour, and a private for-profit operator has been operating there for almost 100 years. They've got a standard Forest Service sign over the entrance, and many people would be under the impression that it's directly operated by the federal government. Of course the Forest Service has a different operating model than NPS. However, a lot of people visiting Boyden Cavern are visiting NPS areas and don't really know the difference. For the most part I thought the experience was pretty similar even if it was a for-profit operator.

And yet, Ranger Paul, there seems to be an increasing tendency in parks to charge for hikes and other programs led by NPS interpreters. Mesa Verde's ruins tours and Great Basin's Lehman Cave come to mind immediately.

Maybe, given the budget crunches we all face, those fees will just have to become part of life for park visitors. Those fees, so far at least, are about equal to the cost of popcorn and some watery soda pop in a movie theater. (And what you see in a park is almost certainly a lot more wholesome than anything Hollywood has produced lately.)

As I work in a park that does not have concessionaire interpretation I have little experience in the matter, the one issue I have with it is the cost. What is the cost if any? I understand that for some cases a small charge might be needed to pay for the gas/hay for whatever you are touring on but hikes and regular programs should be free.

I agree, Rick.

In the real world, and speaking of the rubber-meets-the-road level, it is not uncommon for folks to move horizontally. One year a commercial tour bus driver, the following year take a job as a seasonal interp ranger. The local lore in the individual's internal hard disk pretty well transfers.

The difference is in the supervision, in the focus, and in the organizational support, I believe. I've seen tour bus drivers winging it, shooting purely from fancy or guestimate, but in most cases I think the rangers are held to a higher standard. Living in a park and being married to a park employee, I have friends on all sides of this equation. Milage, of course, varies.

I'd like to nominate many of the guides that lead the concession Mule Rides into and out of the Grand Canyon over two days and the shorter rides from the North Rim. Yes they do a lot of interpretation in one of the most dramatic and at times, brutal environments. The visitors have so much personal equity in the experience in real terms that I feel there is a real bond and respect gained for the Canyon, their mules and the professionalism of their guides. Most often far better than they could have expected. I know many NPS Interp Rangers and the best of them try and succeed in facilitating those same outcomes and only mention the concession end of Interpretation and specifically the Canyon Mule Rides because there has been an effort to marginalize their presence. When riders at the end of their two day adventure in the Inner Canyon commonly praise the adventure as the best experience of their lives, I'd say a good thing has been accomplished.

I touched the edges of another topic here but the point is that concessionaires can and do have very capable interpretive personnel and should be valued by their employers and deserve respect by NPS for their efforts to facilitate connections to these special places.

Agreed, Lee.

Supporting all the Interps, Concession and NPS, in meaningful ways only furthers their giftings/abilities to help facilitate visitor's connections to these historical places and landscapes, in real terms. A Win-Win for everyone, I believe.

Add comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide

Recent Forum Comments