At 93 years old, Glacier National Park Ranger Lyle Ruterbories is contemplating retirement from his seasonal position at Kintla Lake Campground, but isn’t ready to make it official just yet. Ruterbories has worked as the Kintla Lake Campground seasonal park ranger for the past 20 years and prior to that he was a volunteer campground host with his late wife Marge Ruterbories since the late 1980s.
Kintla Lake Campground is the most remote frontcountry campground in Glacier National Park. Located in the northwest section of the park known as the North Fork, only a few miles from the Canadian border, visitors often come to Kintla Lake seeking solitude and recreational opportunities such as fishing or canoeing.
Each week Ruterbories travels the rough and bumpy Inside North Fork Road from Polebridge to Kintla carrying food, water, and propane to the remote Kintla Ranger Station where there is no electricity, running water, or telephone available. The park ranger at Kintla Lake Campground must be skilled at rustic living, able to live and work independently, and possess a wide-range of skills to accommodate various resource and visitor needs. Daily duties include managing campground facilities, collecting fees, educating visitors on resource and park history topics, and conducting trail or lake patrol as time allows.
Ruterbories often goes above and beyond his daily duties, contributing countless hours to numerous projects. He has built log barrier structures for each campsite parking spot to protect vegetation, constructed a log rail fence around the Kintla Ranger Station complex, leveled all Kintla campsites, and constructed walking paths to Kintla Creek and the beach area of Kintla Lake. Ruterbories refinished the wood floor of the Kintla Ranger Station himself and still pulls weeds in the Kintla Lake Campground area almost daily.
Glacier National Park North Fork District Ranger Scott Emmerich said, “Lyle has high expectations for running a first rate campground and he consistently delivers quality work each and every year. Lyle is a positive role model for those who complain about getting old. He’s proof that age is just a state of mind.”
Born in 1920, Ruterbories grew up on a Nebraska farm during the Great Depression and served in WWII before settling in Wheat Ridge, Colorado with his wife and six children. A sheet metal worker by trade, Ruterbories retired from the nuclear weapons production facility, Rocky Flats Plant, after a 30-year career. In 1962, Ruterbories’s son urged his parents to visit Glacier National Park and experience the beauty first hand. Ruterbories and his wife immediately felt connected to the park and returned nearly every year thereafter, eventually working as a team at the Kintla Lake Campground. He was the park ranger and she the campground host.
“You become part of this place,” said Ruterbories. “My wife called Kintla her paradise on Earth.”
Marge Ruterbories passed away in 2005. The couple was married for 65 years and together they traveled to 93 different countries, including Antarctica twice. Ruterbories says he plans to continue to travel after retiring from his work at Glacier National Park. One of the things he enjoys most about his job at Kintla Lake Campground is the opportunity to meet and connect with people from all over the world.
“Visitors return to Kintla each and every year just to see Lyle,” noted Emmerich. “He has created lasting friendships and positive relationships with many different people who visit the park.”
Ruterbories plans to return home to Colorado this fall once the summer season ends at Kintla Lake Campground. He looks forward to spending time with his family, but has no plans to stop working. The first project on his list includes construction of a sun room on the south side of his house where he can grow plants. Next, harness solar energy from the sun room and create a solar heating system for his home to compliment the solar water heating system already installed.
“Lyle has a zest for living, a positive work ethic and never ending curiosity,” said Emmerich. “He will be sorely missed at Glacier National Park when he retires, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him return for at least one more year.”
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