Current Goal: National Park Summer Job

     A new endeavor has recently risen in my life. It's not an entirely new idea to me, but it seems far more attainable and realistic than before. This new adventure would involve my boyfriend and me working in one of the many national parks in the U.S. for the summer.

A Goal Reborn

Angel's Landing, Zion National Park, 2014
     Before the beginning of my last year of college, I realized that a career that I could truly imagine myself having would be a job as a park ranger. After I graduated with an only slightly related degree in elementary education, I put in applications at national parks. I found these jobs on Some of the listings required training that I didn't have. There were some ranger jobs that I qualified for due to my related coursework from college (mostly my science credits). The issue is that I have no experience working in a setting even close to that of a national park. To no surprise, I never got any calls that year.
     Moving forward to 2016, my boyfriend and I had started planning a grand summer trip for 2017, traveling across the western U.S., through Canada, and to Alaska. The fact soon sank in that even as frugally as we travel, that trip would end up costing an awful lot of money. How do we get the best of our summer while still being able to afford it?

The Compromise

     That is when we began to look at non-National Park Service jobs within national parks. Many national parks have lodges, restaurants, and gifts shops run by concessionaires. These places look for staff to work their summer seasons. Many of them provide room and board to their staff as well for a bit more than $100 per week. The seasons begin anywhere between March and May, it seems, and end in September or October. Some positions available include hotel workers, kitchen workers, bartenders, wait staff, janitors, retail, and whatever else you can think of that would be involved in running a top-notch lodge in a busy park. It seems that many of the staff take trips together in their off days and have various activities to do as well. A couple of these concessionaires are Xanterra and Princess Cruises. If you search for lodges within a park of choice, you should pretty easily be able to find the website and job listings for the summer.

The Process

Bison in Yellowstone National Park, 2014
     The applications are pretty straightforward, with some having the option to include a resume. Many of them also ask if you are applying with someone, which is helpful for my boyfriend and me. The fact that I can't start a job until the beginning of June is a hindrance to my application. So far, we've put in applications for Zion, Bryce Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and a couple spots in Alaska. Yosemite and Bryce Canyon have both e-mailed my boyfriend, and Yellowstone e-mailed us both. The e-mails ask to schedule a phone interview. We had our phone interviews with Yellowstone, and were both offered the job. They weren't the jobs that we had applied for, but something is certainly better than nothing. We were told that they would try to keep us in the same location within the park. It's good to know that they would keep that in mind.

Moving Forward

     Our plan is to wait and see if we get offers from other parks before making a final decision. Even if I'm bussing tables at the lodge, I'd like to think that this will help me make some necessary connections and learn about how I can get a job with the National Park Service in the future. This would also be a good opportunity for us to spend quality time with nature in and around some of the most beautiful locations in the United States.

If looking for a national park summer job of your own, consider the following factors:

  • Potential job positions
  • Pay rate
  • Availability and cost of housing
  • Proximity to towns/other parks/attractions
  • Social requirements on and off the job (housing is often in dorms)
  • Interest in what the park itself has to offer
Stay tuned to the blog and my Twitter for updates about the job situation!


  1. So cool! Did you guys try the Great Smoky Mountain National Park?


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