Working at Big Bend

WorkingBIBEI spent November, 2009 until the end of August, 2010 living and working at one of the most beautiful places in the country. This is a park that is classified as a “destination park.” People do not come here accidentally. They have to want to come here and then make an effort to get here. It is 1200 square miles of desert (801,00+ acres) on the border with Mexico. Due to the publicity of all the violence in Northern Mexico many people are hesitant about visiting, much less living, this far south. I felt safer here than I have in 99% of the places I’ve lived in and visited across this nation. For four months I even lived in Castolon. I lived as far south as you could get, and my nearest neighbor was a mile away. I slept comfortably with the doors and windows open, and enjoyed a peaceful life where the songs of the birds woke me each morning.

If you want to work here, there are, at that time, only two ways to do so. You can work for the government (NPS, DEA, BP, ICE) or for Forever Resorts. Not many people live and work there, so getting a job tends to take some time and effort. IMGP1228Getting a job with the government is quite difficult and takes a long time. There are several hoops to jump through, but the position you get can lead to a very good career with good benefits and retirement, if that is what you are looking for. Getting hired with Forever Resorts is much easier. The company is a concessioner for the National Park Service, and they have certain rules and regulations they must follow. But, getting hired does not take a lot of effort. If you have a good employment record and can pass drug screening then you should have nothing to worry about. Like all jobs with concessions, you can expect to work for your paycheck.

The hardest part of living and working at Big Bend is the isolation. If you are a social person that needs to be near large groups of other people, enjoys a varied nightlife, must be close to shopping, Starbucks, McDonalds, etc. then this park is not for you. The closest town (very small) is just outside the west gate (about 25 miles from where you will be living). IMGP1215You will not find much there (a couple of small markets, gas station, a few restaurants, and very few residents). A town of any size is 120 miles away. Keep in mind that this, too, is not a large town. There is a grocery store and some limited areas of shopping–no movie theater and not much of a nightlife. To get to a city of size you can expect to travel 3 1/2+ hours one way. So, just running down to the corner market after work, or going out for pizza and beer on a whim is not something that can be done easily. Anything you do while living there will take planning and effort.

However, if you enjoy a life of peace and solitude where there is abundant fresh air, sun, and hiking, then Big Bend National Park is the place for you. The days are long. At times it seems as though the sun will never set. The nights are warm, while the days are down right hot. The only redeeming quality about the weather is that the humidity is almost non-existent. Go prepared for blazing sun and warm weather. When it does rain it floods, so you can expect to do without electricity from time to time. The winter, surprisingly, gets cold. It snowed four times the winter I was there. I think that is one or two times more than normal. The nights during the winter months are quite cold. It is the desert, you know. So, come prepared. I’d suggest clothing for all kinds of weather. It’s surprising at how varied the climate is.

This is not a place for everyone to live, but a place that everyone should visit. Before you go, though, do a little research. It’s a long ways just to turn around and leave. Give yourself a few days, weeks, months, years to enjoy one of the hidden secrets of the National Park Service.