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What It’s Like To Live And Work In A National Park

Do you love national parks? Ever wish you could live in one? Well, you can! There are thousands of people who work and live in a national park and we can tell you from experience that it is an amazing opportunity.  Read below to learn more about all of the perks.

Quiet time in the park during the off-season

Believe it or not, there are times of the year when some of the most popular national parks aren’t busy. Or at least not as busy as they are most of the time.

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Quiet mornings in a national park

When working at a park, you may be asked to start or end your season during one of these down times, and if you’re lucky you might even be asked to start or end when parts of the park aren’t even open to the public yet. During this special time you get to experience these magical places when they are peaceful, empty, and typically this also means the wildlife is more active.

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Meeting like-minded people

Most of the people who work and live in a national park are (surprise, surprise!) outdoor lovers. So if you are a national park and wilderness lover then you are likely to find like-minded people as your neighbors and co-workers. This means living and working in a community of people who enjoy and appreciate nature as well as having people to hike with and share a campfire with.

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Backpacking with co-workers/friends

Many national parks also have activities geared towards these interests. This can be hiking clubs, dodgeball leagues, and even affordable organized overnight trips to surrounding areas.

Getting the inside scoop

This one ties into the previous point because a lot of the people you will meet working in a national park are people who have been returning to the park for years.

This means that they know a lot of park secrets! And not only do they know the best places to hike, view wildlife, see wildflowers, and camp within the park, typically their knowledge applies to areas surrounding the park as well.

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A co-worker not only told us about this canoe-in campsite but also let us use his canoe to get there!

We’ve been told about some amazing camping right outside the park and given detailed maps to find it that we would have never found on our own.

Waking up and working in some of the most beautiful places on Earth

This one is pretty straightforward, but for many is enough of a reason in itself to work in a national park. Many people’s dream vacations involve getting to sleep a couple days in their favorite national park.

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My bike commute to work in at Yellowstone Lake Hotel

And for some parks, being able to do that takes a lot of advanced planning and then you are still limited in the time you’re allowed to spend camping inside the park.

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A view from my morning commute

When working there you get to wake up and breath in the nature and wilderness every morning, and then maybe ride your bike or walk to your job which probably involves an epic view of a beautiful mountain, valley, or lake!

Getting to slow down in a national park

This goes along with the previous point as the more time you get to spend in a national park, the more you’re able to slow down and really take it all in.

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We would hang out for hours in beautiful spots while visitors would pop in for a couple minutes and have to be on their way

When visiting a park for a day or even a week, you can get wrapped up in wanting to see and do everything. It’s hard to just slow down and take it all in.

Believe me when I tell you that spending a couple months or more in a national park compared to a day or a week gives you a completely different feel for that park.

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We got to see this iconic geyser multiple times and one time at night with hardly anyone around

Being in the parks for an extended amount of time means that you can return to your favorite spots and hike your favorite hikes over and over again. And if your work season is a little longer, you might even get to see these spots and hikes in snow, with wildflowers blooming and leaves falling.

See more wildlife

Seeing wildlife in their natural habitat is one of the ultimate experiences in many national parks. Many people visit the parks for a couple days and are lucky if they catch a glimpse of the amazing wildlife within the park.

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We got to see this momma bear and cub the first year the cub was born and again the following year when the cub was 2!

When you work in a national park, not only does your extended time there mean you have a better chance of seeing wildlife, you also typically get alerted by your neighbor or co-worker if something has been spotted and when is the best time to see it.

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We were told about this beautiful elk and where he liked to hang out, so we were always on the lookout in that area

And many times, you don’t have to go anywhere as the wildlife will come right to your RV site!

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We often had bison and elk grazing right outside our RV

Seasonal work

Many of the national park jobs are seasonal, meaning that you can work for 3 or 6 months and then have the rest of the year off to travel or maybe get another seasonal job at a different park. And once you’ve worked a season if you’ve done a good job, you’ll typically have a spot to come back and work the next season.

Perks

Many of the national parks offer perks to their employees. Some of these might include a discount at the gift shop, discounted use of rental equipment, discounted use of facilities, and sometimes even discounts on activities or parks in the surrounding area. For us, these aren’t a huge selling point, but it’s nice to have and can really improve your overall ability to enjoy the park.

Epic family experience of a lifetime

If you have kids, your experience working and living in a national park will be unique, memorable, and life-changing. Your kids will be immersed in their surroundings and learn from first-hand experience about the geology and wildlife of the park.

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One of our many epic hikes

Our kids got to throw snowballs in the summer after hiking to the top of a mountain and watch bison grazing right outside our RV window. They still consider Yellowstone, the park we worked and lived in for multiple seasons, their second home.

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Our kids got really good at hiking in Yellowstone

Whether it’s for one season or many, living and working in a national park will be an experience you will never forget.

If you are interested in working at a national park, Coolworks.com is a great place to find open positions and you can even use the filter to specify jobs with RV spots.

We lived and worked several seasons in Yellowstone National Park. Want to learn more about some of the secrets and tips we discovered while there!? Read about it here.

Entrance fees to national parks are increasing this year (another great reason to work in one!). Read about it here.


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