The dream of becoming a park ranger became a reality for Scott Gediman when he joined the National Park Service in his early 20s. Scott has spent the last 22 years working in the outstanding Yosemite National Park where he now lives with his family and works as the parks Public Affairs Officer. Scott really is the man in the know when it comes to explaining the challenges and wonders of working in Yosemite’s jaw-dropping natural wilderness.
What was it that first drew you to the National Park Service?
I grew up in Los Angeles and every year my family of four escaped the city to Yosemite. I was completely in awe of the park rangers. We used to go to ranger shows, listen to their talks and go on the guided walks, the park rangers were my idols. After graduating from University in San Diego I got a seasonal job at Glen Canyon in Utah and the rest is history!
How have you seen the tourism in Yosemite change over the years and when would you recommend visiting?
In 1996 there were 4 million visitors to Yosemite which was my first year. In 2016 there were over 5 million so the numbers are definitely increasing! The summer is extremely busy but we have been promoting off season visitation. Spring and Fall are excellent times to visit. From mid-April to mid-May, the meadows are green, Yosemite is a lot less crowded and much more affordable. In fall, mid-September to mid-October is a great time for couples to visit as there are no kids, the colours of the leaves are beautiful and we have wonderful weather and hiking trails. The Tuolumne meadows are open in fall along with the Alpine Lakes, the Half Dome and El Capitan so there’s much more to get out and see. The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia’s will be reopening at the end of June and this really is a magnificent sight. These are some of the oldest trees in the world (some exceeding 3,000 years!) and a wonderful natural experience in the southern part of the park.
What’s your biggest challenge?
Cars! This is an enormous challenge as everyone has a car. We have to help 5,000-6,000 cars every day and parking can be a nightmare. For day visitors, I would recommend the Regional Transportation System buses.
Can you tell us more about the wildlife and conservation in Yosemite?
We have between 300-500 black bears in the park which are active early in the morning or at dusk in the meadows. There’s a fair amount of other wildlife too including bob cats, mule deer are also prevalent, and then there’s ring tail cats, coyotes and grey foxes. We celebrate Earth Day which is also the birthday of famous naturalist John Muir, by swearing in the Junior Rangers. This is a really proud moment and it’s such a privilege. The whole concept of the national parks is to protect and preserve these really special places and educate the visitors about why these places are protected. We’re currently working on our zero-landfill programme initiative, recycling and reducing as much waste as possible. We’re working to become a real model of sustainability and we want to encourage people to emulate these sustainable practices at home.
Do you have any top tips to first timers visiting Yosemite?
Spend as much time as you can on the trails, away from the more developed areas, and experience the sights and sounds of the natural beauty around you. Slow down and spend time hiking. Sit by the river and paint, write, read… take a moment and savour it…don’t rush.
Rest your head
For nature, peace, tranquillity, wilderness and their away-from-the-crowds location, we love Tenaya Lodge. From £420 per night
Enjoy a full day guided group ‘Adventure Hike’ to Glacier Point, from $75 per person. www.travelyosemite.com