NPS veteran returning home as superintendent of Bighorn Canyon and parks group

Mike Tranel, a 33-year veteran of the National Park Service, has been named superintendent of Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area and group superintendent of the eastern Montana-Wyoming Group of parks by NPS Intermountain Region Director Sue Masica.

Mike Tranel

Tranel, who grew up on Wyoming and Montana ranches not far from Big Horn Canyon, will directly oversee the two-state recreation area and supervise the superintendents of three historically significant NPS units in the region: Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in Montana and Devils Tower National Monument and Fort Laramie National Historic Site in Wyoming.

He has served for the past seven years as superintendent of Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in Skagway, Alaska. He will transfer to Bighorn Canyon in late May.

“Mike’s experience as a park superintendent and his deep local roots equip him well to manage Bighorn Canyon and help administer our other nearby parks,” Masica said. “His enthusiasm, commitment to the NPS mission and ability to build partnerships will benefit the parks, their communities and stakeholders.”

Tranel has worked for NPS parks in Alaska for the past 25 years. He recently served as acting associate director in the Alaska Region Office. He served previously as acting superintendent at Jewel Cave National Monument in South Dakota and Cape Lookout National Seashore in North Carolina. He also has worked in Denali National Park & Preserve, Timpanogos Cave National Monument in Utah, Gulf Islands National Seashore and Ocmulgee National Monument in Georgia, where he started in the NPS in 1985 as a park interpreter.

“I’ve been fascinated by the stories behind these four parks ever since elementary school, when I got to explore Wyoming and Montana historic sites with my family,” Tranel said. “I look forward to exploring them in depth as I work with their talented staffs and devoted partners to protect and share these special places with the American people.”

Tranel grew up one of 10 siblings near Big Horn, Wyo., and Ashland and Broadview, Mont. His first visit to a national park was a second-grade class trip to Little Bighorn.

Tranel attended St. Labre School in Ashland, graduated from Billings Central High School and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Iowa, respectively.

He returns to Wyoming and Montana with his wife, Mary Tidlow, and their daughters Abigail and Olivia. Tidlow also works for the Park Service as an architect in the NPS Park Facilities Management Division. Tranel’s daughter Kelsey, who grew up in Denali, lives and works with her husband in Anchorage, Alaska.