Both Tom and I spend time working in the Pipe Spring National Monument Visitors Center almost every day we work. Because of the Fruit Loops schedule, we are usually in the Visitors Center for a couple of hours.
I really like working in the Visitors Center because it is our first point of contact with visitors. Most of the people who visit us are traveling the Grand Circle of the National Parks: Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands, etc. They just happen to drive by a sign on US 89A that says “Pipe Spring National Monument.” Because they are in a national-park-visiting mode, they stop by. So the first thing many of them say is “what is this place?” It is a reasonable question and a good way to give them a thumbnail sketch of the story we tell.
We charge admission and so we sell all the National Park passes. Even though the passes are $80, they are a great deal around here where admission into any of the big parks costs $35. Visit Pipe Spring and two national parks and the passes save you money.
The Visitors Center is a partnership between the Kaibab Paiute Band of the Southern Paiutes and the National Park Service. We have a wonderful museum that is divided between telling the story of the Kaibab Paiutes and the story of the Latter Day Saints pioneers who built the fort. There is also an excellent introductory movie. Ranger Benn is one of the speakers in the movie. People are always delighted when they get him for their fort tour. One of the tour guides refers to him as the “star of the monument.”
An extensive bookstore and gift shop occupies the other half of the building. Susan is the manager and Becky is her assistant. The store is part of Zion Forever. Unlike all the other parks where we have worked, we never help out in the bookstore. There are some beautiful Paiute baskets, Navajo rugs and dolls, and sand paintings. I can answer visitor questions about the postcards and books but I don’t know much about the rest of the stock. The PISP stamp for the Passport book is on the counter in the bookstore.
We have a lot of foreign visitors, so if their English isn’t very good, I offer them a translation of our brochure. Translations are available in Italian, Dutch, French, Spanish, and German. We also have an excellent Jr. Ranger book and a lot of kids do it. Yesterday I had a teenage girl finish the program. She told me it was her 257th Jr. Ranger badge. Awesome!
I always enjoy talking to people when I work at the Visitors Center. It is fun to tell them a little bit of our story, answer questions, and find out a little bit about them. The hours in the Visitors Center fly by!