Magnificent Seven Yellowstone Park AU

Premise: The Seven (and some of their friends) live and work in various capacities in the Mammoth Hot Springs area of Yellowstone National Park.

The Setting: Yellowstone was the United States' first national park and has a diverse and rich variety of wildlife, habitats and ecosystems. It has been called "the Serengeti of the United States" because of the variety and visibility of wildlife. It also has the majority of the world's geysers, along with other geothermal features including hot springs, mudpots, fumaroles and so on. The park covers 3,472 square miles or 8,987 square km and is home to a staggering variety of animals, including several endangered and threatened species. In 2006, more than 2,800,000 people visited the park, the majority between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend.

The official National Park Service site on Yellowstone (a mine of information, photographs, maps, videos, photo tours, etc.) is here.

The park's headquarters is located in the Mammoth Hot Springs area and the road across the north of the park from Gardiner, MT to Cooke City, MD is the only road that is kept plowed and passable to automobile traffic year round. Mammoth Hot Springs visitor services, such as the Grill, the Dining Room and the Hotel are also open year round. Information on the Mammoth Hot Springs area, including maps, interactive tours, what you can see on the road from Mammoth to Norris and Tower/Roosevelt (the next major junctions on the park's Grand Loop Road), and so on, is here.

Mammoth aerial view
Annotated aerial photograph of the buildings around Mammoth Hot Springs.
Click for a full size version.

The Seven: The Seven work out of the Ranger Station (in the Albright Visitor Center) in the Mammoth Hot Springs area. A little bit of information on the kinds of duties Park Rangers perform can be found here and here.


Chris Larabee: US Park Ranger. Primary duties: management of the Ranger Station, formerly Law Enforcement. Chris has just gotten promoted from a field position to head of this station and finds his new managerial duties somewhat restrictive. He finds opportunities to go out into the field more often than others in his position do.

Backstory: He has been at Yellowstone and with the Park Service for three years, since the death of his wife and son in an arson at their home while Chris and Buck were at a law enforcement conference out of town. Prior to moving to Wyoming, he was an FBI agent based in Phoenix, Arizona and prior to that he did a stint in the Navy as an MP.

Other Information: He lives in an isolated house just outside the park in Gardiner, Montana (about a 20 minute drive from the Ranger Station). There would be housing available to him in the Park, but he likes to have the physical and psychological distance from work that a short commute allows. His personal vehicle is a Ford Expedition, black, though in the park he generally drives government vehicles.


Vin Tanner: US Park Ranger. Primary duties: backcountry. Vin monitors use of the backcountry campsites (hikers are required to use the designated backcountry campsites and use of the Yellowstone backcountry is regulated), watches for illegal activities in the more remote areas of the northwest corner of the park, helps with search and rescue as needed, assists in wildlife and ecosystem research. He travels by foot and on horseback, depending on where he's going and may be away from the Ranger Station for a week or more at a time. He spends a few days or a week back at the Ranger Station completing paperwork and helping visitors, before going out to the backwoods again. In the winter, he does less backcountry work, and more wildlife research, travelling on snowshoes and skis, gathering information for various research projects.

Backstory: Vin was born in Texas, though his mother was a full-blooded Shoshone from the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. He was orphaned at age five when his mother died. After floating through various foster homes and orphanages for a few years, Vin was taken in by his grandfather, a Shoshone Elder, when he was still quite and lived on the reservation. His grandfather taught him his backwoods and tracking skills but actively discouraged him from reading and writing, and even speaking, in English. His language skills, as a result, are weak and mostly self-taught. He put his tracking skills to use as a bounty hunter, and then for the US Marshals until he'd had too much of standing around in court rooms and went into the Park Service.

Other Information: During the summer months, Vin spends a lot of his time in the backcountry. When he's at the Ranger Station he has a small camper at the Mammoth campground. It has no power or water hookup, so he uses the toilets and showers provided by the campground. This campsite is provided for him by the park. He has an old Ford pickup truck he keeps at the campground, though he doesn't drive it much more than necessary to keep the battery charged. Most of the time he walks to where he's going, drives one of the government vehicles, or, in summer, rides his classic Harley. When the weather turns too cold for him to stay in his unheated trailer, he reluctantly moves into an apartment in the park for the winter, camping out with a sleeping bag and sitting on the floor rather than purchasing any furniture. Despite his frugal, even minimalist, lifestyle in other ways, he's always got the latest and best hiking gear.


Buck Wilmington: US Park Ranger. Primary duties: Law enforcement and visitor contact. Buck is fully capable and trained in law enforcement and can handle himself and others in a crisis. However, he likes best walking the trails around Mammoth Hot Springs assisting visitors, answering questions, and making sure that park rules and policies are being followed. He also spends some time working at the North Entrance gate, checking passes and collecting fees, and telephone numbers.

Backstory: Buck and Chris have been friends for upwards of ten years, since they were in the Navy together. He knew Chris before he met Sarah Connelly, was best man at their wedding and was there with Chris when he got the news of their deaths. He worked for the Park Service in a law enforcement position at the Grand Canyon while Chris was in Flagstaff and when two positions came available in Yellowstone, he convinced Chris to apply, hoping that a change of scenery might help Chris out of his black rages and depression following the deaths of his family. Buck's mother worked in one of Nevada's legendary, and legal, brothels and he was raised by all the women who worked there.

Other Information: Buck lives in park housing in Mammoth. Because of his age and seniority with the Park Service, the house provided for him is a medium-sized two bedroom. He keeps it clean and nice looking, the better to entertain the ladies in. He drives a GMC Pickup truck.


Nathan Jackson: US Park Ranger. Primary duties: Visitor contact, with special training in emergency medicine. Nathan is a Ranger, not one of the doctors and EMTs working at the clinic, though he is often first on the scene when there's a medical emergency. He is especially good with historical programs, and leads tours of Fort Yellowstone several times a day.

Backstory: Nathan's parents were civil rights activists and often spent long stretches of time in jail, during which Nathan lived with various family members. He wanted to go into medical school, but the money just wasn't available, so he went into the Park Service and took every CPR, First Aid, Wilderness Medicine, Emergency Medicine training he could get, finally taking night courses and a leave of absence to get certified as an EMT.

Other Information: Nathan's wife/girlfriend/fiancé Rain works at the medical clinic next door to the Albright Visitor Center. He lives in park housing in Mammoth. He drives a Subaru Outback.


Ezra Standish: Yellowstone Park Foundation Fundraiser. Ezra is not an employee of the National Park Service, he is an employee of an associated non-profit the Yellowstone Park Foundation (more information about this organization is here. He organizes fundraising events of all types ranging from $1000-a plate dinners to nature walks. Anything he can think of that someone will pay to participate in. He also organizes events around the country where Rangers speak to the public about the wonders of Yellowstone. He is a liaison between the Yellowstone Park Foundation and the management of the park, and is friends with the regular denizens of the Mammoth Hot Springs Ranger Station. He has frequently tapped Chris, Buck, Nathan and Josiah to speak at fundraisers and has been trying to get Vin to share some of his experiences with no success.

Backstory: Ezra was raised partly by his mother, a genteel con-artist, and partly by a variety of relatives (when she was working a con that wouldn't permit of having a small child in the vicinity). His main attraction to his job with the Yellowstone Park Foundation is the opportunity to schmooze and socialize with the very wealthy. There is some speculation that he might be running some side scams or cons alongside his work for the Foundation, but since the books always come up completely clean in audits, and he pulls in money very well, no one has yet questioned him about it.

Other Information: Ezra lives most of the time in Gardiner, MT, in a very well appointed, mid-sized home. He also has an expensive cabin in Jackson, WY and an apartment in New York City, both of which he uses for entertaining potential donors. As such he deducts the costs of maintaining those residences from his income tax. He drives a Mercedes SUV.


Josiah Sanchez: Park Volunteer. Josiah volunteers at the park, probably putting in more than full time hours in doing so. He is an expert in the wildlife in the park, and leads a variety of wildlife nature walks for all ages. He can talk for hours about the animals in the park, everything from the most recent scientific papers to Indian legends from a variety of tribes. He works at the Visitor's Center, on the trails, leading nature walks, giving talks on the wildlife, whatever needs to be done. He takes a special interest in maintaining the chapel at Mammoth and can often be seen working there, pulling weeds, painting or doing odd jobs.

Backstory: Josiah's life path has been long and complicated and he's had a huge variety of different jobs. He was studying to be a priest, but never took final vows, then set out to study the world's religions. He has traveled widely in the US and learned from teachers and elders of many different Native tribes.

Other Information: Josiah lives and works on Nettie Welles' small ranch outside of Gardiner, Montana. He doesn't take much in pay, but he does odd jobs for her in exchange for room and board. He drives a weather-beaten old Jeep.


JD Dunne: Park Intern/Park Ranger. Primary Duties: As an intern, JD gets dumped with grunt jobs, picking up trash, collecting fees at the North Gate, repairing damaged trails and roads. As a genius with computers and radios, he gets less of that than the other interns and spends more time working with the computer systems, maintaining the network, updating software, etc. The park's computers are new, and the park stays online via the National Park Service's internet gateway which sometimes works at lightning speed, and sometimes doesn't work at all. He also helps to maintain and massage the radio system and spends some of his time just manning the radios and monitoring radio traffic.

Backstory: JD grew up in Boston and chose to go into the Park Service after his mother's death. Not that he has any great love of the great outdoors, precisely, he just wanted to find a place where his technological skills would be especially needed. He has been a ham radio operator since he was a kid. He's a whiz at developing new systems, software and approaches with computers and radio equipment, so many of his inventions are implemented at Mammoth as test runs before being installed elsewhere in the park.

Other information: As an intern, JD would live in a dormitory provided for summer employees. When he becomes a year-round employee, he will move into Buck's spare room.

View of Park Housing at Mammoth

Their Friends:
Orin Travis: Is the Park Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park. The Park Headquarters is next door to the Mammoth Ranger Station, so he has more contact and more knowledge of the men and women who work in that station.

Mary Travis: His daughter in law, works writing publications for the park, from the quarterly newspaper, to website text, to the self-guiding trail brochures available at many of the sites.

Casey Welles: Works in the Mammoth Dining Room and Grill as a waitress, pre-cook, hostess. She's been doing it for a couple of years, so she can work in almost any position in the restaurant as needed. She also attends classes at Montana State University in Bozeman, MT, an hour or so north of Gardiner. She's getting a degree in hospitality and hotel management and hopes to someday start a lodge or hotel on Nettie's ranch.

Inez Recillos: Manages the Mammoth Dining Room and Grill and is Casey's boss.

Mrs. Potter: Manages the Yellowstone Association Bookstore in Mammoth.

This AU was created by Farad, Sassyinkpen, and Sara and is open for anyone to contribute to. If you feel inspired to write about the boys in this universe, please consider yourself invited to do so.

Disclaimer and Note: Please note that while we have attempted to be as accurate as possible in placing our AU in the real Yellowstone National Park, there are places where reality has been sacrificed to make the AU more satisfying. These places are rare, and we hope that they do not glare. Just know that we are aware they exist.

Also, we mean no disrespect or disparagement to Yellowstone National Park, the National Park Service, the Yellowstone Park Foundation or any other body mentioned in these stories.