Working in a National Park

WorkingNP

There are several ways to go about finding employment in our nation’s parks. For many years I went through a website that specializes in jobs in parks and resorts across the U.S. (Coolworks). I still visit this site to see what is available out there. There is no way of knowing when a position comes along that might interest me in a place I’d like to visit, unless I keep tabs on such things. This is a great way to find employment in an area you’d like to visit for a while. Most of the jobs require a commitment to a certain length of time (i.e. 90 days, full season, etc.), however you will find that this length of time goes very quickly.

I’ve worked for four different concessionaires, but there are many, many more across the nation. Some of these are large businesses such as Xanterra Parks & Resorts, Aramark, Delaware North, and Forever Resorts. Others are small operations that have just one or two properties. I’m fortunate in that I do not need to care about the size of the organization, or opportunities they afford, but mostly the area where the park is located, and where I’ll be spending a few months of my life. I’m not much into winter sports so my efforts are concentrated towards those areas that offer great spring/summer/fall experiences.

I’ve also worked for the National Park Service. It is a bit more difficult to find employment with this agency, but it can be accomplished if you are persistent. Their positions are listed at USAJobs.gov. If this is what you’d like to do, I suggest you fill out a profile and upload your resume. Then keep checking back as often as you can. Be open about what possibilities might exist. You may not get hired exactly where you want to be, but once you get your foot in the door you have more of an opportunity to become employed at your dream park.

Most national parks are open year round, but the lodges, retail shops, and restaurants are only open during the spring, summer, and early fall months. Seasons will range from 4 to 9 months depending on the latitude where the park is located (northern parks offer shorter seasons). There are a few operations that are best visited during the winter months, like Death Valley, CA and Big Bend National Park, TX, and are good places to spend the winter if you are into summer activities. But, if you enjoy winter sports, then working for a ski resort is the way to go. Aspen, Vail, Lake Tahoe, and Park City are some prime areas to look for winter work. Vail Resorts offers some great opportunities for those of you who enjoy spending time on the slopes. Anyway you look at it, you can enjoy the amenities in the area (skiing, hiking, off-roading, etc.) on your days off and not dig into your savings to do so. I see it as a great way to finance a vacation. My vacation has gone on a little longer than most, though.

If you find a park or resort where you want to visit and work, you can always do a Google search on it, but that search will most likely take you to the website for that location and not necessarily the site where you can find employment. Keep looking, or make a phone call to the lodge to find out how to go about working there. A great place to start is with the National Park Service website. To find the park you are interested in use the first two letters of the first two words in the park’s name, i.e. Big Bend=bibe, Grand Canyon=grca, Bryce Canyon=brca, Zion=zion, etc. Just go to their website at www.nps.gov and add the abbreviation for the park you are looking for after a forward slash (www.nps.gov/grca) or you can find the park by accessing their “Find a Park” tab.

My final comment is, “Enjoy life.” Take it like you find it. Enjoy it to its fullest and give thanks that you have that opportunity. Enjoy what you find and find only enjoyment. If life is not to your liking where you are, either change your outlook or change your environment.

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