GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — The first time Lori Honrath saw the Grand Canyon, it was about three decades ago, and it was almost completely obscured by fog and clouds.
Now, after working at Isle Royale National Park in Michigan for the past eight year, Honrath has made her home at Grand Canyon and is excited to be working on the front lines with visitors as a visitor use assistant. Most days, that includes working the south entrance station, although she sometimes mans the desks at park headquarters or the National Geographic Visitors Center in Tusayan.
Honrath said she loves getting to work with visitors, and she usually carries a few extra tidbits of information in her backpack for those that have questions about less-visited areas of the park.
“Instead of trying to make my line go as fast as it can, I try to help each visitor individually to get what they need,” she said. “I try to just get them started in the right direction so they can enjoy their stay here.”
Although her interactions with guests are mostly positive, Honrath said she sometimes has to be the bearer of bad news when tempering their expectations. For example, she said she sometimes has to tell visitors who show up in the middle of the summer without camping equipment or lodging reservations that they will probably have a difficult time finding a place to stay.
“You also have a lot of people who come wanting to hike down into the canyon and you can tell that they’re probably not prepared,” she said. “It might be a summer day around noon, and they’re thinking they’ll be able to hike to the river and back, and I have to explain that they’d need to start about 4 or 5 in the morning to do that hike, even if they’re fit and experienced enough.”
Some interactions, though, are the amusing variety from excited children.
“I had a little boy who, as his family was driving away, yell back to me, ‘Am I gonna see any rattlesnakes?’” she laughed. “He was really excited and wanting to see one.”
Living at one other seven wonders of the world has its bonuses — Honrath said she loves to fill her spare time with hiking and especially exploring the park’s many bike trails.
“I haven’t made it down to the river yet, but that’s my goal and I’m working up to that,” she said. “I like (hiking) South Kaibab — I have a little fear of heights and I’m working on that.”