My experience working and living in National Parks

I don’t have all the money in the world to travel, actually I have no money to travel. So, I got a job in the National Parks to sustain myself so I can work, still make money, and see what I’ve always wanted to see. There are a couple ways to go about working in the National Parks. There is of course, working for the NPS which in most cases, is a better paying job. They pay pretty well so you can explore the park and bring home some money at the end of the season. But, these jobs can also be hard to obtain and you have to apply through USA jobs, where you are competing with thousands of other applicants.

Another way to go about it is to work for one of the concessionaires in the parks. They provide lodging, food, and you still get a paycheck. You can work in restaurants, stores, campgrounds, laundry facilities, etc. They hire a mass amount of people every season with a large diversity in jobs. They may not pay as much as if you were to work for NPS, but it will allow you to see the park, and still make some money. It also depends on where you work. When I was working in Denali National Park in Alaska, the minimum they paid me for the lowest paying job was $16.00 an hour and that was eight years ago in 2008. This year, in 2017, I worked in Grand Teton National Park, and I was making minimum wage which was just over $8.00 per hour. It all depends where you work, what you do, and the state you work in.

Travel was just something I always wanted to do, but it was really hard for me to save up enough money to do so. So instead of not traveling because of insufficient funds, I instead incorporated work within my travels. This has allowed me to see so much. Working in a park places you there for at least a few months, which means you have enough time to pretty much explore the entire park and experience some seasonal changes. If you are there for the whole season, you see spring, maybe even the end of winter depending on where you are, of course all summer, and depending on which park you are in, fall as well.

Most people only spend a few days to a week at just one park so this really gives you the opportunity to get to know the park you are living in, and also the nearby areas. When I worked in Alaska, I explored Anchorage, Fairbanks, and the small towns in between. Also when I worked in Grand Teton National Park, this park gave me access to Yellowstone, Cody, Wyoming, the Wind River range which has mountains taller than the Tetons, and the state of Idaho was within an hour’s drive.

When you work in a Park, whether it is for the NPS or for a concessionaire, you can live out of an RV in the campground in most places, or you can live in the lodging they provide–which is what most of the workers do.

I very much enjoyed my experiences working and living in National Parks. I got to really explore the areas I was in, met cool people, made some money, and there I was; traveling, even on limited funds.

I have a video below on Grand Teton National Park. I think it’s one of my most favorite videos I have ever made!!!

Thank you so much for reading and I hope this inspired you to travel!!!!



About the Author:

Hi, I'm Shelly! A traveler, hiker and an outdoor enthusiast. My dream my whole life was to travel, so I stopped dreaming and started doing. I quit my job and I am currently doing whatever it takes to keep going. I'll pick up jobs along the way and do what it takes to keep being a full-time traveler! I can prove that you don't need to come from money or anywhere special to live your dream. You just have to have the power of your own life to finally say YES!

One Comment

  1. Tina Nguyen September 15, 2017 at 9:40 pm - Reply

    What a great life you have! Thanks for the great article.

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