In 2009 I decided I’d work in Northwestern Wyoming. I chose Grand Teton National Park as my destination. There are several concessionaires up there, but I opted for Grand Teton Lodge Company (GTLC) because I had worked for my supervisor when I was at The Grand Canyon in 2007. The lodge is the largest employer here, but they have competition from others throughout the area.
I had come close to working up here a few years ago, but decided to go back to Bryce Canyon since there were some things that needed to get done that I had not had time to do the year before. The same might be said about my season here. It is a short season (five months) that goes by very rapidly. So, in 2012 I returned. Sometimes there is just not enough days in a year to do everything you want to do.
The employee lodging at GTLC is similar to the other places I have been. If you choose to live in the dorms, it is a shared housing situation. There are three employee housing areas and you will be assigned to one of them based on where you will be working (Jackson Lake Lodge, Colter Bay Village, or Jenny Lake). The RV park is located at Colter By and is one of the nicer ones I’ve seen or experienced in a National Park setting. I found that many RVers come back for at least one or two more seasons before moving on. There are quite a few people here that come back year after year. It seems that they like living and working here. It is a short season and allows them the opportunity to spend their winters in warmer weather–like on a beach in Mexico.
There are many opportunities inside and outside the park boundaries for off-roading and hiking. The photo opportunities are abundant. The wildlife here is varied and runs the gamut from a small chipmunk to a large Grizzly Bear. While living and playing at the Tetons you will have the opportunity to see elk, moose, deer, bears (black and grizzly), cougars, squirrels, chipmunks, whistle pigs (you get to figure that one out for yourself)–in short there is wildlife of so many varieties here that in order to see them all (if you can) you will be forced to spend a large amount of time out and about (isn’t that what it’s all about?).
The trails here are varied and run the gamut from moderate to extremely challenging. Nothing like hiking into and out of the Grand Canyon, though. However, if you are into mountain climbing, this is a must destination for you. It’s some of the best in the world. There are some challenges here and great scenery once you get out and away from the masses. One employee that seems to return each year hikes 800+ miles in the season. That’s a lot of walking during a five month period. I didn’t even come close to that number, but I did find time to enjoy some of the trails and roads in the surrounding National Forest.
The off-roading here is not too bad once you get away from the park boundaries. I had been led to believe that there were some great roads here, but I was a bit disappointed. I think my judgment was clouded because of my experiences in Utah. However, there are some good roads that will take you away from all the tourists. They may not be as challenging as what Utah has to offer, but they are fun.
Whether you choose to spend a summer at Grand Teton National Park or not, just know that the opportunities for a good time exist. If you don’t like one employer, there are a few more in the area. The length of the season is just about right to get a taste of what is there. You may have to return to catch some of the missed opportunities because of the weather (I did). Yes, there is weather here. The season begins and ends with snow and in between you will have thunderstorms, rain, hot and cold weather, and maybe even a day or two of white stuff falling from the sky in August.
You need to visit at least once in your lifetime. You may not wish to live and work here season after season as so many do, but at least one summer should be a part of your National Park experience.