“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over civilized peoples are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity, and that Mountain Parks and Reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”
-John Muir 1901
Muir’s words captivate GTLC Interpretive Specialist Don Wells. Wells believes our National Parks are a splendor everyone should experience.
Born and raised in California, Wells has explored many of our nation’s parks from Kings Canyon to Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon.
While attending college in California, Don and his wife Joyce would spend weekends traveling to Yosemite, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and other California natural wonders.
“One crisp fall Saturday morning while at Sequoia National Park, we walked up to the information kiosk to get some hiking guides, only to find my biology professor standing in uniform behind the counter,” recalled Wells.
What a surprise and amazing ensuing conversation. “From that chance visit, a seed was planted that if we ever had the opportunity in our professional lives to take time and travel, experience, and revel in our park system, do it,” said Wells. “That seed sat dormant for over 25 years. Eventually the conditions were just right and that seed germinated – and here we are. Five National Parks later, we find ourselves in the Grand Tetons working with GTLC – what an adventure!”
While Wells always carried a passion for the parks, in 2007 he was introduced to the concept of interpretation at the Grand Canyon south rim. He was transferred to Yellowstone to receive specific training from the National Association of Interpretation to become a Certified Interpretive Guide. Wells was approached by GTLC in 2008 to become their Interpretive Specialist, but had a prior commitment and joined the company in 2009.
Wells is an encyclopedia of knowledge on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and Jackson Hole. He offers his wisdom on interpretive walks and shuttle tours.
When not marveling in the midst of a National Park, Wells is spending some time at his Nevada City, California home. He finds himself engaged in his hobbies of bicycling, hiking, fishing, kayaking, snowshoeing, skiing, running, and photography.
“Joyce and I, not once but twice, have spent a week riding our tandem bicycle, over 500 miles, across the state of Iowa with 10,000 of our closest friends,” said Wells, speaking of the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) event.
A man of many interests, Wells continues to share stories of science and nature in Grand Teton National Park. It’s not about informing the guests, but interacting and having a conversation. Wells does have one suggestion for park visitors. “Come early and stay a while!” Certinaly advice worth considering, as it is near impossible to absorb all that the Park has to offer.