So, You Want Work in Yellowstone National Park? Here’s What to Expect
Thousands of seasonal workers spend the summer employed in Yellowstone National Park and can anticipate everything from answering “odd” questions to feeling geysers rumble and sitting in a bear jam to counting twinkling stars in a pitch black sky. I was once one of those employees and if you’re interested in working in America’s first national park, do it! It will change your life. Following are a few tips on what to expect during a summer working in Yellowstone.
Summer Employment in Yellowstone National Park: Where to Work
Not everyone finds summer employment with the Yellowstone National Park Service but workers ranging from college students to retirees will find employment with one of three major park management companies.
- Yellowstone General Stores (www.visityellowstonepark.com)–Operates stores throughout the national park and managed by DNC Parks & Resorts.
- Yellowstone National Park Lodges (www.yellowstonejobs.com) – Manages all lodging and activities throughout the park plus gift shops, restaurants and a handful of camping sites. The country’s largest national park concessionner, Xanterra Park & Resorts, manages these operations.
- Yellowstone Park Service Stations (www.ypss.com) – Runs fuel pumps, repair shops and convenience stores.
Summer Employment in Yellowstone National Park: What to Expect on the Job
Following is a short-list of what to expect when working in Yellowstone National Park for a park management company.
Time Off – Whether making beds at Canyon Lodge or behind the grill at Old Faithful Inn anticipate long hours of hard work and possible six-day workweeks. Maximize time off by working an early shift before the weekend and a late shift upon returning. Take advantage of nearby trails to hike before or after work.
Avoiding Crowds – Yellowstone’s tourist areas are congested but hike 50 yards down a trail and the crowds thin. Deeper into a trail equates to fewer people.
Dumb Questions – Remember, there are no such things as dumb questions only dumb answers. Expect off-the-wall questions as, “When do the deer turn into elk?” and “Where do you keep the animals at night?” Depending on the question just smile and politely explain the national park setting and answer each question as though it was the first time hearing it.
Summer Employment in Yellowstone National Park: Time to Explore
Getting Around – Plan on at least 45 minutes when driving point to point even if it the distance is only 20 miles. Bear jams – the act of excited park visitors stopping in the middle of the road to see a bear – can slow traffic. Plus, speed limits are reduced along vista points and roads can be narrow and hilly. Use extreme caution when traveling at night and stay alert for elk, bison and other animals in the road. For those without cars it is easy to make friends with those who have autos to get around within and outside of the park.
Hot Stuff – There are more than 10,000 thermal features in the park. Old Faithful is one of more than 300 geysers but take time to explore thermal features at Mammoth Hot Springs, Norris Geyser Basin and West Thumb. Lone Star Geyser at the Old Faithful area is a great hike, check for with the ranger station for eruption times.
It is illegal to soak in hot springs however the Boiling River between Mammoth and Gardiner is legal because a hot spring blends with the Gardner River. While walking through thermal areas always stay on boardwalks and known trails to avoid breaking through the earth’s thin crust into a thermal feature which can be fatal.
Wander – Cody, Wyo.; Red Lodge, Mont.; Jackson Hole, Wyo.; and West Yellowstone, Mont.; are all nifty towns to visit but if only making one trip outside the park make it Eino’s Tavern in West Yellowstone for the “grill your own burgers and steak,” lazy atmosphere and incredible view of Hebgen Lake. (8955 Gallatin Road, Tel: 406-646-9344)
Summer Employment in Yellowstone National Park: An Unforgettable Experience
Create Memorable Experiences – See a geyser eruption during a full moon, find a quiet spot in Mammoth during September and listen to bugling elk, hike to the top of Mt. Washburn and fish for cutthroat trout in the Yellowstone Lake. Savor every minute while living and working in Yellowstone National Park. People save money for years to vacation in the world’s first national park and only a few have an opportunity to call it home.