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The man behind ‘Kenny’s Lunchtime Walks’ in Yosemite National Park

With just one step into his office, a detective – or plain-clothed civilian – wouldn’t have a hard time figuring out a thing or two about Kenny Karst.
Sports and photography – or a combination of the two – dominate the landscape in the office of Karst, an kennykarstheadshot-4555931integrated marketing manager for Delaware North in Yosemite National Park by day and freelance sports photographer by weekend.
The park has become a fitting home for Karst, who also spends his non-working weekday hours capturing images of Yosemite’s splendor.
“I shoot the [San Francisco] Giants, [San Francisco] 49ers and Stanford,” Karst said of his sports photography. “But I have shot landscapes of Yosemite for decades – long before I came here for work in 2003. Yosemite’s always been a real passion of mine; this park is in my blood.”
Like many people in the park, Karst finds himself continuously amazed at the surrounding beauty. And so he began posting on his Facebook page a series of images that he captured during his lunch breaks.
He couldn’t keep his passion project a secret from his officemates for long, though.
“I had been taking some pictures and posting them on my personal Facebook page while I was taking a kennylunchtimewalkcomp-1884089lunch-walk, and my colleagues here in the marketing department heard about it,” Karst said. “We decided to do ‘Kenny’s Lunchtime Walk’ on the Yosemite Facebook page and Instagram account. And immediately it started getting thousands of hits for each image that was being posted.”
Communications Coordinator Michelle Hansen, who handles a majority of the content on Delaware North’s Yosemite-specific social channels (including, is certainly among those who agree with Karst’s assessment.
“Given his passion for photography, ‘Kenny’s Lunchtime Walk’ was immediately well-received on our social accounts,” Hansen said. 
In fact, the series became so popular that Hansen and Karst even launched a contest in which the winner could join Karst on one of his walks. The "Lunch in Yosemite with Kenny Contest" included free lodging at Yosemite Lodge at the Falls and lunch at The Ahwahnee followed with a walk with Kenny.
“Last summer, we did a contest to have lunch with Kenny and walk with Kenny,” Karst said. “We had a winner from the San Francisco Bay Area come out with her son, and we took a walk over by The Ahwahnee and Merced River, and then had lunch in The Ahwahnee Dining Room. That was a great way to not only generate more interest in our social accounts but also to truly connect with our guests and those who are following us.”
But for Karst, the lunchtime walk is more than business. At its core, it’s a mix of business and pleasure – including a time in which he spends a bit of quality time with his daughter.
“And another thing that’s interesting is on Tuesdays, my daughter, Renee Santiago, who lives and works for us here in the park in the human resources department, takes a walk with me. She is married to Eddie Santiago, who also lives and works here in the park. So for a number of reasons, it’s become one of my most favorite things to do – and it’s even become a small part of my job.”
A snapshot of Karst’s office
The walls of Karst’s office are adorned with a picture of Fenway Park in Boston, with media credentials hanging on the left side of the frame. The credentials include covering the San Francisco 49ers, Stanford football, the 2014 Rose Bowl, the Pac-12 Championship Game (2013 and 2014), the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics.
Hanging from the floor lamp – right of the Fenway Park photo – is Karst’s photographer’s bib from the 2014 Rose Bowl.
On the rear wall is original art of the Yosemite National Park terrain map.
Below the round clock is one of his proudest pieces: House Resolution 1474, which was read on the floorkennykarstofficepanorama-3190030 of the 110th Congress on Sept. 29, 2008 – a proclamation written by Karst regarding the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. The proclamation honored the historic feat of the original climbing team.
Below the Dodgers pennant – his favorite baseball team – are two padded luxury seats from Dodger Stadium that were removed during the renovation of the lower box seats.
From lunchtime walks to weekend adventures in California’s sports venues, Kenny Karst is at home in Yosemite.