An interview with Yellowstone National Park guide Scott Carsley, Owner of Yellowstone Alpen Guides

By Abbie Digel

What is a normal week like as a guide?

We work anywhere from one to seven days in a
week. We pick up clients all around the Yellowstone
area; we cover the entire park. We do mostly private
tours, where families will hire a guide for a day.
Days are anywhere from 6 a.m.-6p.m.or 2 p.m.-
10p.m. We leave whenever the guest wants to.
Sometimes we use our own vehicles, but most of
the time we go along with guests. We get to drive
pretty nice cars that way: Lexus, Jaguars, you
name it. Two summers ago the Lexus SUV was the
guides’ favorite.
We take families into the backcountry; they usually
want to go for a walk and learn about the park. As my
wife says, we get to go on everybody’s vacation. It’s
hard work, but its great work. This is my 27th year.

What’s the most challenging part of the job?
Dealing with the Park Service. The rules and regulation
are always changing and we have to keep up
with them.

How do you continue to educate yourself on
the Park?

We keep up to date by talking with naturalists and
park service personnel, reading publications and
scientific literature. There are classes put on by the
Park Service and the Yellowstone Association and
conferences up in Mammoth. The Thermal Biology
Institute in Bozeman comes down, and the Park
Service has its own training for guides.
At the end of the day, we’ll sit around, have a
couple of beers and talk about what we see. We
have guys that have been guiding for 20 years.
They spend a lot of time exploring in the offseason.
Every time we go into the park it’s new
and different.
What is the most dangerous thing that has
ever happened to you?

Riding in a car where someone else is driving, really.
We see tons of grizzly bears, but I’ve never had to
pull my bear spray. Once a grizzly bear charged one
of our guides who had a group of four. He pulled his
bear spray, but then the griz swerved and veered off,
and sprayed the group with dirt. That was a close call.
The thermal features are always a concern, too.

What draws you to Yellowstone?
I moved to West in 1977 as a schoolteacher with my
wife. We thought we’d stay a couple of years, and
we’re still here. It’s the geothermal features, wildlife
and beautiful natural settings. I do a lot of kayaking
on Yellowstone Lake. There aren’t many people
there, and it’s a nice place to be.
What is the most unique thing you’ve ever seen?
Years ago I saw two people in lawn chairs fishing
in Semi-Centennial Geyser. They weren’t going to
catch any fish unless they were already cooked!

What’s the funniest question a guest has
asked you?

How many of these fires were started by geysers?
(During the big fires of 1988) Do you have ostriches in the park?

Do you get to meet interesting people?
I’ve guided people from Australia, Italy, China, the
Big Easy, Bozeman and Big Sky. Really it’s people
from all over, and mostly families.
I’ve guided the seventh richest person in the world,
and he had just won the Americas Cup. The next
one was going to be in Barcelona, Spain, and he
invited me.
We’ve had some celebrities. Last summer I guided
Chris Rock, and I’ve had the leader of the Hubble
space telescope on a weeklong tour. I had a Heisman
trophy winner. He was with American Orient
Express luxury tours—we get those a lot. We meet a
lot of private jets at the Yellowstone Airport, too.