Click here to go to our main page

of John H. Riffey The Last Old-Time Ranger by Jean Luttrell

Western Writers of America ROUNDUP Magazine
Western Bookshelf - Non-fiction

August 2008 Volume XV, Number 6
Reviewer Linda Wommack

When passion for a subject is combined with extraordinary research and a gift for writing a well-told story, a great book will always emerge. The story of John H. Riffey, Grand Canyon Park Ranger, is that great book. Yet it is through the personal knowledge and subsequent research that author Jean Luttrell was able to bring the history of this place and this man to the reader in a wonderful page turning experiČence.

Riffey grew up in Mancos, Colorado, attended college at Old Fort Lewis, at that time located near Hesperus, (now in Durango.) During college, he held various jobs, but in the midst of the Depression years, jobs were hard to come by, yet he eventually earned a degree in Forestry in 1937.

By 1942, the tall lanky lad was given the job of ranger at Tuweep, on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. In those early years, his duties were conČfined to the management of grazing permits of homesteaders in the Tuweep Valley of the National Monument. It was at this time, during an area cattle round up, that the author, at the age of ten, first met the ranger who would be a part of her family's life for the next four decades.

Over the years, Riffey's duties evolved and changed from a few dozen tourists a year looking for the Toroweap Overlook, where one could view the fabulous Lava Falls, to a small but steady flow of tourists flocking to experience the unbelievable scenery of Tuweep. Through it all, John Riffey remained the last "old-time" ranger, covering the beautiful remote area of Tuweep at the north end of the Grand Canyon.