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What's the Point of Rangers?

Posted by Anna Roth at Oct 29, 2015 04:00 PM |

Rangers are indispensable. They teach you about the landscape, help you select your adventure, and answer that most important question: "Where's the bathroom?" The internet is a treasure trove of rangers pointing at things. Enjoy.

To educate, assist and inspire people to fall in love with our public lands. They're scientists and educators, advocates and rescuers.

Whether you're visiting national or state lands for your first or 50th time, rangers are indispensable to your experience (even when you don't see them). They can teach you about the landscape you're traveling through, help you select your adventure while you're visiting, and even answer pressing questions, including, "Where's the bathroom?"

All this knowledge is conveyed using the helpful art of pointing. What information would the phrase "Over there!" hold if it was uttered without an accompanying point?


Luckily, there's a movement afoot to capture this valuable gesture in all its varied forms.

Video: The art of pointing

For a more interactive experience, watch this short instructional video by Ranger Kenny Points (yes, that's really his name) of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.

Be sure to watch all the way through, past the credits and color blocks.

Have you snagged a photo of a ranger pointing at a thing? Be sure to post it to Instagram or tweet it and add the hashtag #rangerspointingatthings. If you tag us, @washingtontrails, we can see it, too!

A hat tip to Kim Brown and Gwen Tollefson (pictured below), members of the WTA community who have taken this delightful internet phenomenon to heart. As volunteer wilderness rangers with the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, they're well qualified to point things out.

kim + gwen rangers jim kuresman
Kim Brown and Gwen Tollefson pointing as rangers, both on and off-duty. Photos by Jim Kuresman


MapleLeaf on What's the Point of Rangers?

I love rangers! The parks really need them. Sometimes they can be grouchy but for good reason. My brother worked as a Ranger at Olympic National Park and other places. They don't get paid very much plus they have to deal with government cut backs and occasionally ignorant people. It's very difficult to get a permanent job as a ranger.

Posted by:

MapleLeaf on Oct 30, 2015 01:50 PM

MapleLeaf on What's the Point of Rangers?

I should also add that in addition to pointing to where the bathrooms are, staff rangers (not volunteers) also clean the bathrooms. Therefore, they deserve our utmost respect.

Posted by:

MapleLeaf on Oct 30, 2015 01:55 PM

Volunteer Poop Scoopers

Volunteer rangers may not clean the TH bathrooms, but we do check on the condition of all the backcountry toilets in the areas we patrol and have been known to dig a new hole and relocate them when it's time! Oh, and we also deal with "deposits" that were inappropriately placed. (Sometimes I think cleaning the bathroom might be the better chore!)

Posted by:

GwenT on Nov 02, 2015 09:25 PM

Volunteer Poop Scoopers

Boots on Trail: Thanks for enlightening me on your varied duties. :-) We appreciate having you on the trails!

Posted by:

MapleLeaf on Nov 03, 2015 11:26 AM