Last year I got into working seasonally around the US in, or near, national parks. I didn’t even know it was a thing until someone I used to work with went to Yellowstone for a summer. I didn’t really know what I was doing when I started looking, but my system worked out pretty well. So, I decided to share with you how to find jobs working seasonally around the US at national parks. This can work for anyone in the US or out of it, but the application process may be a little different since you would need a J1 visa if you live abroad. Anyways, here we go. This is what I did and it worked out well.
Decide where you want to go
This is either really easy or, well, it’s just easy. You either already know where you want to go or you’re open to pretty much anywhere. Maybe you want to be in the southwest, maybe the east coast, maybe California. I know I wanted to be west, and was hoping for Southern Utah. I applied all over Montana, Wyoming, and Utah and a few places in Arizona I think and one on the east coast. There are jobs pretty much all over.
Figure out what kind of job you want
Serving. Retail. Housekeeping. Front desk. Tour guide. Hiking guide. You get the idea. I applied for mostly retail things the first time and ended up doing front desk at a hotel, which I’m glad I ended up doing. The second time around (for winter) I was more adventurous. I applied for bartender, baker, server, host, and front desk again. I ended up doing front desk. There’s always the chance you can change what you do when you get there. I’ve helped with housekeeping and had a brief stint as a host as well. Don’t be afraid to apply for things you have no experience in either. You never know what will work out. Also be open to other positions if they are offered to you during the interview.
Go to Cool Works
This was my first stop. It will probably be yours. too, if you just Google National Park jobs. It’s basically like craigslist, but more official, for seasonal jobs around the US. You can search by season, state, and park. It’s an awesome place to start and look around. They usually list number of employees, peak season, and if they have employee housing available. It can help narrow down where you want to go, too, if you just browse it for a while.
Search for resorts in or around parks
After looking at Cool Works, I would just Google resorts near Bryce Canyon or resorts near Yellowstone or glamping in Montana. That kind of thing. Then I would check TripAdvisor or Agoda to see what there was. It was a lot of looking for applications on some not so great websites, but it was easy enough to find a lot of places to apply. Some parks don’t have accommodation in them, so check the towns right outside of them instead.
Apply to everything
This is pretty self-explanatory. I probably applied to 30 different places with different companies. One thing to note, most park concessions (hotels and shops in the parks) are run by three main companies: Aramark, Xanterra, and Delaware North. I only have experience with one, but it was easy to move between properties, so keep that in mind and check out which ones they all run to see if there’s anything you’d want to do in the winter with them. It’s always a possibility.
The lesson? Apply to as much as you can and don’t give up. There are jobs year round, but more options in the summer. At least more variety of locations. Plus, it’s not too late for this summer, so start applying and see some cool stuff!
Have you worked seasonally anywhere? How did you get into it? Where did you work?