One of the joys of being a National Park Ranger is getting to answer questions. You never know what the question is going to be. We have questions we get asked every day, and then we have questions that are only asked once. I thought I would take a few minutes to talk about some of them.
Question 1: How do I get to the moving rocks?
This is probably the question we get asked most often here at Scotty’s Castle that isn’t related to the Castle. People who come to Death Valley have heard about the mysterious moving rocks and want to see them. They are located down a road up here at the northern end of the park. Our primary job as Rangers is to discourage people from going to visit the rocks in an area called the Racetrack. There are several reasons for this: a) as soon as people head off the pavement in a rental car (Racetrack is 40 miles of dirt road) they void the rental agreement; b) the road has the sharpest rocks in the world and they shred the sides of tires so we routinely have at least one car a day with two flat tires; c) the closest tow trucks are three hours away and charge a starting fee of $1,000 to your credit card before they will even leave to come get you and d) there is no cell service here at the northern end of the park, so you have to rely on other cars to get the news back to the rangers if you get in trouble. Tom and I are going to the Racetrack on Monday with a rental jeep that has a transponder for help if we get in trouble. This is the only safe way to travel to the Racetrack.
Question 2: Where can I get a cup of coffee / gas / a hot meal / a hotel room / cell service?
Everything is at least an hour away from Scotty’s Castle. Beatty, Furnace Creek, Stovepipe Wells have all those things, but you have to drive an hour to get there. Some people don’t believe us and think if they just climb a hill or drive a few miles they will be able to find the things they want. But we do know what we are talking about. Trust us – we’re rangers!
Question 3: Do I need my binoculars on the house tour?
I thought the person who asked me this question was kidding, but he was completely serious. I told him no – he could get close enough to things in the house to see without his binoculars.
We spend lots of time answering questions about how to get different places, what kind of wildlife, temperatures, and other general questions. I like working in the Visitor Center because that is where you get lots of questions and I learn something new every day. But this last question is my favorite and was a question asked of Tom.
Question 4: Do you know where the princess is?
Apparently this four year old girl, on being told the family was going to Scotty’s Castle, figured there had to be a princess at the castle. She was working very hard to find the princess. Tom told her he hadn’t seen the princess today, and the little girl responded, “If you do see her, would you please send her to see me?”