Beware of Nazi Park Rangers

colorado park ranger calls for backup to issue citationDid we happen to mention how we nearly got arrested in Denver? Twice.

We were pretty preoccupied after leaving Denver, and while René is still trying to put the incidents behind her, It’s about time I share our encounter with the cops and a certain authoritative state park ranger.

First off, we headed out after setting up our home for the week and quickly got pulled over by a Colorado state trooper. Needless to say René was totally freaking out. But luckily, this brush with the law was just that. René was doing nothing wrong, we were only guilty of being Californicators.

The officer walked up and immediately explained how he read the expiration tag on our California license plate wrong. He proceeded to run Rene’s license anyway. Thankfully she has no warrants, and we were on our way. OK, so no big deal. That was the next day back at Cherry Creek State Park.

While in the big city, we had to have our brakes looked at so we took the truck to a local Dodge dealer. Unfortunately, they kept our truck longer than expected and we were required to move sites that day – one site over. Apparently, the park system believes it’s much easier to make campers move than switch site numbers in their system, or perhaps the rangers and volunteers are just incapable of doing so. But I digress …

Having dealt with an inept volunteer when we checked in, I decided to just work this out with whoever would arrive to take our site that day – an elderly confused looking man and a woman who seemed very understanding, at the time. They took the site next to ours and seemed to have no problem switching sites the next day. Or so it seemed.

This man should not be driving an RV!Next thing we know a ranger pulls up to our site with an associate and a rather serious attitude problem. The woman had gone to the office “to complain” and we had to be issued a citation for occupying their space. “A citation?” I asked. We hadn’t informed them of the situation. Not that telling them would have made a difference. We would have gotten the ticket either way.

Never mind that we had no truck with which to move our trailer. And never mind how we were in Denver to see a vet with our dog in the final stages of cancer.

When the ranger told us we needed to be more accommodating, I merely questioned how they were accommodating us. “You need to step off,” I was told in a rather firm voice with a finger pointing and a step forward. “I’m issuing the citation to her,” she added pointing to René.

Now I have never met a park ranger I didn’t like. And here I was being told to “Step Off” by one. I don’t know if she was picked on in band class, or had repressed anger from not passing the police exam. But I thought it best to go ahead and step off since she clearly explained “I have the authority to arrest you and I’ll use it.”

Dumbfounded, I let it rest and René paid the ticket. While the Ranger had the authority to issue a citation, she clearly lacked the compassion to understand our situation, and she didn’t have the capability to issue a receipt. More than half an hour and three rangers later, we were left alone to ponder our $56 fine and contemplate greeting our neighbors. We decided to just drink heavily instead. Inside of course, since anything stronger than 2% beer is illegal in the state park.

The next day we traded sites with our neighbors who had no clue why we might be a bit peeved with their complaint. “Why you upset with me,” the woman protested while the man seemed in no shape to join the conversation, let alone be driving! But I digress once more.

The next day we had to move sites yet again, and they would no longer be our neighbors. I would sure be keeping an eye out for them on the road, however, and making sure I steer clear. We won’t be returning to Cherry Creek anytime soon, or ever for that matter.

30 Responses to “Beware of Nazi Park Rangers”

  1. I’ve lived here in Colorado since 1984. I am so sick and tired of these “Rangers” and their attitudes. After a two year hiatus from boating due to mechanical issues, my family and I purchased registration for our two PWC’s. We were on Cherry Creek (spit bucket pond) reservoir today. As a side note, if anyone’s tried launching and docking your boat in CO you know what the hassle of waiting in lines is! Therefore, my 14yr old son hoped on one PVC and I on the other. We were dong approx 2 mph in the no wake zone while my wife was waiting for us to dock with our trailer. All of a sudden this Ranger yells at my son to come over to his boat. I had already docked. I yelled to the Ranger “What seems to be the problem” where he yelled back, “I want to see him NOW!” He then drove his boat over to the dock to meet me. I asked him what the problem was at which time he threatened me that he was going to call the City Cops? I said fine I did nothing wrong and I’m wondering why you yelled @ my son. He THEN told me that he was under age. I said, “I’m trying to ease your launch congestion by having my son “Troll” the PVC to the trailer. This arrogant garbage of a Ranger then wrote me a ticket for $53 for “underage use of a PVC!” Now, I can fully understand if my sons out their on the water cruzin around but get real, 200 ft of trolling to the trailer and $53 bucks later! Yes, I will be filing a formal complaint against this dude that happened to tell me.. “I’m a former US Marine in Vietnam, I’ve been shot and I was a Vermont PD!” What in the world does that have anything to do with me, the citation. Yet again, he must miss is glory days of the bush, Corps and VT! Lastly, these guys make you not even want to come to the lake.. Total Gasapho’s with the way their attitudes are. Why not a warning bud?? I will not be renewing my registration next year!!

    • :-\ Sounds familiar! Sorry to hear it, but thanks for sharing.

    • Jaime I’m so sorry to hear that. Yeah, there’s something about Cherry Creek rangers that makes it a really unpleasant place to be. We haven’t been back since and will not, it still leaves a bad taste in our mouths. Ugh.

  2. If she could arrest you, she did not fail the “cop” exam.
    Sounds like she could use some customer service classes. And a chill pill.
    Sorry your time in Colorado was bad, but we like people from Ca, its Tx we are not always fond of.
    Kidding.

    • Aww come on now ranger, we are Texans now! Thanks for reading and bringing up this icky event 😉 We can actually laugh about it now.

  3. I know this is an old post, but wanted to explain the park ranger system from a Colorado resident (and avid trekker/hiker/backpacker’s) point of view. Park rangers have turned the great outdoors into tourist traps and their own backyard recreation areas which are attuned to their own city-boy/girl idea of living it up in nature. They have done great damage to many of the parks and natural resources they “protect and serve” by installing stairs, railings, and parking lots. Since many people would respond by pointing out how many tax dollars this brings in, I will say that the park ranger program looses hundreds of thousands of dollars every year and is funded by additional revenue streams. So they have turned nature into a playground for people who can’t appreciate the effort it sometimes does take to reach majestic vistas, only how fast they can get there and back; have imposed a bunch of rules which make it more difficult for true outdoors people to enjoy nature the way it was meant to be enjoyed; ‘develop’ nature (speaks for itself – think housing development); and loose money. Great job guys!

  4. Jim,

    I’m so sorry to hear about your terrible experience with both the State Patrol as well as the Rangers in Colorado. I was a permanent California Park Ranger, and currently work as a Code Enforcement Officer in Colorado.

    I have just a few comments here. First, if you were pulled over by a State Trooper without probable cause, and it sounds like that was the case, that officer is guilty of violating your civil rights. He should have immediately let you go after he determined that he was in error looking at your registration and apologized. Legally he did not have authority to detain you for one minute further, and keeping you there longer to run your DL was ILLEGAL!

    Secondly, let me next apologize for “ColoardoLE”. He is correct that park rangers do not “fail police exams”; in fact some are held to higher expectations and education requirements than many cops. When I was hired permanently as a ranger, Bachelor’s Degrees in Park Management or Forestry was required. I addition, I had spent years working seasonally for the National Park Service and as a Firefighter for the US Forest Service. I believe that most police agencies require a high school diploma; some require a two-year degree. Anyway, for ColoradoLE to insinuate that you did anything wrong is more a testament of a closed minded, biased, inwardly angry man. Clearly he has no idea of the cultural and artistic diversity that comes from California and other liberal-thinking western states. Also, I congratulate you on bringing your poor dog to CO for treatment. I would walk to the ends of the earth to help my dog, your dog or even officer JerkWad’s dog. Our animals are members of our family and deserve just as much respect and consideration as any other being. ColoradoLE can take comfort in his own, bitter little world.

    The truth is, yes rangers, as well as cops, can have attitude problems. Perhaps your ranger was misinformed, or was just having a bad day. None the less, rangering is much different than policing. Rangers realize that park visitors are their customers, and they want them to return. They must deal with park visitors, and the public, with sensitivity and an open mind. You cannot walk into any situation with a chip on the shoulder or with a pre-conceived attitude before gathering the facts. THAT’S what separates rangers from cops. By the way, I would have contested that ticket if I were you, and filed a written complaint against the ranger with the attitude who threaten to arrest you.

    I think it’s important to have sympathy and compassion for these folks (the ranger and ColoradoLE). They live in angry worlds and hate and disgust for non-Colorado natives is part of their existence. Be thankful that you live in a place where it’s acceptable to live and let live.

    Best wishes to you and your puppy.

    • Thank you very much for taking the time to post this thoughtful response. And yes, I do feel for those souls out there that live such angry lives full of hate and blame. Though Jerry is now gone, I can tell you’re the kind of human he wouldn’t mind rubbing his ears.

  5. Wow, that’s pretty wild. I have a story too, but won’t post it here! 😉 I don’t want corrupt ‘n cranky officers posting on MY blog;-)

    Bryan and I have never had problems with rangers, in fact, I found that they went out of their way to help in many situations….all around great to deal with….very personable, friendly and *PROFESSIONAL*. However this ONE TIME, wow….it was shocking. Two of them at once park in New Orleans. They have a name you know….’Power Rangers’. 🙂 Yeah, that pretty much sums them up. There’s always one in a bunch, looks like you attracted a similar breed on your site….too bad.

    Fighting crime on the internet….well I guess they’re more harmless that way!

  6. The cop in Colorado should brush up on spelling and grammar, which helps comments to carry a little more weight. Not much in his case, but at least he would just look bigoted, and not bigoted AND illiterate.

    You damned hippies! With your long hair and your rock and roll..

  7. You sound like another whinny tourist that gave crap to another over worked and under paid Park Ranger. I have no doubt that instead of dealing with the ticket through the proper channels, you decided to play door side lawyer and argue you case. Let me tell you something as a Police Officer, maybe you would have gotten a ticket, maybe not, but if your argue, you leave no doubt in my mind if your walking away with paper.

    Just for your information, Park Rangers are not “wanna bes” nor did they fail the “police exam”. I cannot speak for a Park Ranger, but I imagine they are normal people who love the outdoors and wanted a job that put them in the woods.

    I’m not sure why you decided to travel to Colorado from California because your dog has cancer (no vets in California?), but that speaks volumes about the type of person you are. Try Boulder next time, they are your type of people.

    As for the people who were camped next to you, I’m sure they decided letting the Park Rangers deal with the loons in their campsite was much easier than trying to convince them to get out of their space.

    So to get this strait, the Trooper was wrong, the Park Ranger was rude and wrong, the people who’s camping space you were in were also rude and wrong, but your just a poor guy who is just a victim in all of this……..right.

    You don’t want to visit Colorado again? Great! One less Californian to plug up our streets and tax or resorces, to include Park Rangers.

    • Wow. I wonder if all law enforcement officials are full of such hate and anger.

      • Jim, you’re just a sour Californicator… Wait… Texan now, who likes to give poor police officers grief. And Rene, oh, well she’s a vicious one always getting into bar fights with bikers.

        OK, all joking aside… I say.. WTF!

        Like any person with a job, some people are stricktly by the book. This morning I got a call from the sheriff’s department (i’m on call this weekend) because they were having a problem. Turns out, that on weekends, we are told NOT to deal with these specific issues because of security. Now I could have played it by the books and left this officer hanging, but instead I worked with her and got things working. I went outside of standard procedures to resolve a problem.

        Not everyone does that. Not everyone is flexible.

        We who know you and Rene know that you are two of the most mellow, non-trouble makers around. we know that you like to make friends and avoid conflict. It’s clear that the couple who complained didn’t quite understand why you were in the wrong site, and it’s clear that the ranger felt not only pressure from the campers, but she was one of the inflexible ones.

        I’d ignore ColoradoLE’s post. I’m sure he deals with rude people all the time and just assumes that everyone is the same. His attitude seems very isolationist, and he clearly feels that removing tourists / drivers from other states would make his life much easier. What he fails to see is how without tourists / visitors, the economy of CO would tumble quite a bit, and those extra LE jobs wouldn’t be needed.

        Good luck with your travels… and after hearing these stories… do you really want to move to CO?

        Seriously you guys seem to be picking “Hard core conservative Republican states”… is there something you want to tell me?

    • Hey cranky pants, how very sad that you have nothing better to do than leave hostile comments on stranger’s blogs and judge these people when you know nothing about them?

      Sheesh, with so much to do in Colorado one would think you’d have better things to do.

      Heads up, we are back in your beautiful state and are buying property. Hopefully the positive energy we are bringing to Colorado will displace all the anger you’re spreading around. Sad. Very sad.

    • @ColoradoLE. GET a clue you “whinny”, badge heavy, chip on your dropping shoulders, knuckle-head. You are an embarrassment to all who wear a badge. Get back to your post guarding the mall parking lot. I will restrain myself from posting what I really want to say. If you are an officer I think your chief should take away your single bullet you are issued at beginning of each shift. KNUCKLE HEAD.

  8. Cherry creek is not the only state park with over zealot rangers. I got a fifty dollar ticket at chatfield for parking on the dirt where the road ends no sign no do not enter anything. officer I will refer to him as Fife as in barney. said they were trying to grow vegetation there and it was illegal to park there. the only thing growing there was mud and weeds. talk about arrogant fbi wanta be’s. way to build up the public repore the people who pay your checks a warning would have been sufficeint. hiel

  9. Mike and Cindi October 31, 2008 at 6:03 pm Reply

    hmmmm, where to start…as a retired State Park Ranger, just a few comments:

    1- “The officer walked up and immediately explained how he read the expiration tag on our California license plate wrong. He proceeded to run Rene’s license anyway. ”

    I would wonder what the probable cause was for the ‘2nd’ action? Seems he/she should have wished you well and put you on your way..You can always politely ask the question of the officer at the time..if he/she doesn’t appreciate it, seek out the watch commander and advise you displeasure, not w/ the cite, but with the attitude..no excuse for not being civil..

    2- as far as campsite ‘switching’, the whole system may be on advance reservations
    and site specific. That means that the people coming in may have specifcally reserved that # site for whatever reason. If the campground is on site specific reservations, it becomes the domino theory quite rapidly if everyone isn’t in their ‘correct number’ site (think of 10 different campers coming in and each wanting ‘the site they reserved’.). Not like the old days when you could switch campers around as situations or preferences dictated. In CA, if you want to switch sites in a site specific campground (State parks), you have to cancel your reservation (cancel fee applicable) and attempt to reserve another site #. Usually Reserve America requires at least 2 days notice to reserve. All this being said, problems like this do arise (can’t move your rig) and things can be made to work. Giving you a ticket doesn’t move your rig! I’ve had people stay several days past their due out date because of some major problem. I’ve also had to tow people out and cite them as their ‘problem’ couldn’t be resolved w/in what I considered a reasonable time frame (with my understanding of the problem).. as far as the rangers attitude, their are AH’s in every line of work. One thing I always remembered was, although this may be the 28th time you heard the question, been presented w/ the problem, etc..its the first time they have talked to you about it..sometimes you can get a park supporter by helping them out but if everything doesn’t work out someway, then. time to go folks.. Unfortunately, seems like a lot of the comments here been bad experiences. I sorry for that..Making arrangements w/ the incoming camper doesnt fix the situation (w/in extended parameters) as far as the Park Operation goes especially when they were so 2 faced about it…. Always make sure that any contrary arrangements that are made are with uniformed park personnel, preferably the Ranger or at least park aides. Not all volunteers are adept at juggling..
    All this being said, things can be done at times to help someone out having a problem.. Running a campground can be a huge balancing act that most visitors have no clue about.. Again, it seems that the Rangers attitude in your case wasn’t very helpful..

    3- “We decided to just drink heavily instead” hmmm, invite me over… after that maybe we can man-handle your 5th wheel and park it in the Rangers residence driveway..just kidding..:)

    4- answering some of the comments above (and awaiting the rath of same….)

    not all rangers are jerks…although most folks that are cited maybe will adopt that attitude.. Cites are a last resort (in most circumstances), I’d rather have the understanding of the situation from a visitor..good experiences spread also..
    One can always contact the park or district supervisor and relate your experiences. May not do much from your POV but may trigger a closer look by management..

    NPS is different. They have their Rangers split into two functions: There are Law Enforcement Rangers and Interpretive Rangers. Ones just a cop, the other is the nature walk/junior ranger leader. Unknown how CO works.. If a Ranger is a geralist (does both LE and Interp) then they should have a better feel for PR..again, just my POV,

    “Now park rangers with guns, don’t get me started…” well, sounds like you have figured out PO’s but not Rangers who are PO’s.. No diff mate, ‘cept when you go to the evening campfire program, may just be the same Ranger who cited you for you dog off leash in a posted area, or for collecting downed wood where the sign is next to your campsite.. seen it a million times..written only about a half million cites however..

    Be glad there are Rangers who enforce the law in parks. Otherwise you would be dealing with the local SO deputy who could give a rats a$% about you and your situation. he/she’s got 6 or 8 calls backed up and wants you to sign the cite so he can move to the next domestic or armed robbery down the road..

    Park Rangers have an almost mythical ‘good guy’ reputation from when we all grew up campingf (before most had LE powers and responsibility), no matter how many times I stopped someone for some violation (in or out of the park-in CA, juristiction is state wide), alot of times I would get “Your just a Ranger, you can do this or that..”.. We tended to take alot more crap of people because of this uniformed visitor attitude but we (I) just accepted it as part of dealing w/ the low-info voter folks.. I’m sure there were times when I had to roll in the dirt with someone as a ranger when they didn’t understand who I was and what authority I had..don’t beef it at the scene, go to court. Once the cite is written, no more can be done at the scene and beefing it may just cause more problems depending on how much more animated you get..

    OK, OK…off my soap box in Eureka..

  10. I really can’t stand people who say one thing and do the other. The fact that the couple seemed to be ok with switching sites the next day ended up complaining for occupying their space just gets me all worked up. How can fellow RVer be so not understanding! 🙁

  11. Eric Auckerman October 30, 2008 at 1:31 pm Reply

    So, got a taste of the lashes sting from the man did we?
    The fuzz, the heat, the man, whatever you call ’em folks, it’s their job to check drivers’ licenses in a very fundamental sense.

    Rene could have outstanding warrants (you too Jim) and if it’s demeaning then don’t let it be, just play along, give ’em the control, go with it in other words. Be polite cause if you stand up to them and give the ‘ole ” but I have rights” protest then you might incense someone who thinks you don’t respect their career/badge.

    I’ve kissed so much law enforcement hiney that I don’t get tickets anymore because I’ve learned how to control my pisstivity, doesn’t mean I’m not fuming on the inside but does mean I’ve learned how to deal.

    The fuzz, the heat, the man are just people like you and me, well, probably more like me cause I voted Hillary, but even so, thinking that these people are especially evil (the new Germany, jeeze that was strong and Germany is a proper noun so please capitalize when you can) might be out of touch with what this line of work demands from those who elect to pursue it.

    Der Politzei can be a bit heavy at times and yes I have had my moments in their company but they do serve another function, they also protect us from folks who don’t respect our personal rights. What about the drunk drivers they detain? What about the wanted child molester who is caught
    during a routine license check? What about those trapped in their cars after an accident? The job of a peace officer is varied but in more cases than not I would venture they would rather do a greater good than harass people who neglect to keep their tags up to date.

    Let’s not come down too hard on our armed cousins friends cause one day they could make the difference in saving your life or that of someone you care about. When I got out of the Army and put in a couple of years with the National Guard (way back when) there were a couple of highway patrol officers in our unit, they talked quite often about tragedies they witnessed time and time again on our freeways that could have been prevented if someone hadn’t been drinking. Is Joe Citizen prepared to pull over and address such a situation? I wouldn’t bet on it.

    My point? Good people have little to fear from the law but if however you get in their spotlight, stay cool and simply offer up whatever they want. Smile politely and don’t be contentious as they get that all day, how would you react if all you did was deal with people who react in an agitated fashion? Step into their patent leather shoes and you will fair much better.

    Now park rangers with guns, don’t get me started…

    Eric

  12. Rebels. That’s what you are 🙂

    Funny added note here: we received a ticket in the mail yesterday from our stay at Cherry Creek. Nice picture of Ang driving the Jeep around in the area, apparently driving a bit too fast. At least you guys got to do your confrontation face-to-face. We just got a picture.

    I want to send them a nice picture of a check. Wonder how that will go over.

    –kev

  13. I can’t believe that they still ran Rene’s license, I had an officer do that to me once for no justified reason as well, it sure is a great way to make people feel like sh*t.

  14. What can i say…”Another brain washed individual”…That is the biggest down fall of traveling..you seem to find them all…atleast you have wheels cary on…lol. And don’t feel sorry for individuals like that, karma’s a bitch!!!

  15. yea, my boyfriend had a nasty run in with one also. apparently they have more power than a state trooper due to most parks being federally owned…. power tripping egomaniacs…and I thought NJ was the new germany LOL

  16. Good grief, what a bunch of weenies! I’ll make sure I never stay there, that’s for sure.

  17. And you want to move to CO! Whoa! WE had a run in with a ranger at Denali Nat’l Park with a ranger that had a similar attitude. I found myself hiding in the bathroom while Sam argued. I’m so non-confrontational.

  18. the ” bad” days should serve to enhance the good ones !! “wisdom from ching gao” mexican/ chinese philosopher! related to tommy chong.

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