Beer tourists beware of Gorges State Park

On the evening of  July 4, I parked at the visitor center of Gorges State Park to refill water bottles. A park ranger pulled up behind me, and asked if I had any alcohol. At first I said “no,” but when he persisted, I fessed up to a six-pack of canned Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale in my cooler along with burgers and corn on the cob. He then treated me like a common criminal, calling for backup from another ranger, demanding that I place the beer on his truck, berating me for lying and searching my daypack for “drugs and guns.” When I lost my temper and shook the contents of my pack out on the back seat of my car, he barked to put my left hand on the top of the car while he grabbed my right arm and pushed it against my back. He then got my ID and called it in while I was made to stand with both hands on the hood of my car. The rangers then poured out the beer, and mercifully let me go with a warning instead of a $200 citation.

As I told the ranger, in my many years of camping in North Carolina state parks, it’s never been a problem to discreetly enjoy a couple of beers with my burgers or hot dogs. I have never been so humiliated by any state or national park ranger, who are usually wonderful public servants.

Joe Stelpflug
Raleigh

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5 thoughts on “Beer tourists beware of Gorges State Park

  1. Unaffiliated Voter

    find out their names and expose them for firing… federal employees tend to have pompous attitudes these
    days under the evil Regime …

  2. Erika Nelson

    In late May, a group of my (middle-aged, professional, easy-going) friends and I had an experience similar to Mr. Stelpflug’s. After discovering that members of our group had cans of beer with them, one of the Gorges State Park officers, whom I am apparently not allowed to name for fear of bringing problems related to libel to MountainX, shoved my 61 year old friend up against a picnic table, holding his hand on his gun and screaming at my friend, who did nothing whatsoever to warrant that treatment. This officer seemed hyper-vigilant and overly aggressive and he told me that he saw every camper as a potential criminal, and while gesturing to a sliced tomato and knife on my picnic table, he said that he saw every knife as potentially deadly. We will never go back to Gorges State Park, nor recommend it to anyone because of this officer’s scary and aggressive behavior toward us.

    • jstelpflug

      Thanks for your comment, and sorry for your scary experience. Nooobody expects a gestapo interrogation from friendly Ranger Rick.

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