Working at Cedar Pass Lodge in the Badlands

working-at-cedar-pass-lodge-badlands1It’s now been three weeks since I started working for Forever Resorts, the concession company that currently holds the contract for Cedar Pass Lodge (CPL). Last fall when I was working at Amazon I did a little review a few weeks into the season to give first impressions about what it was like, and now it’s about time to do it for here.

Like with many of these concierge places that operate within the National Parks, there are several work paths that employees can be hired for. I work in the Retail department, which at CPL means you’re running a register, stocking and managing inventory, or otherwise assisting customers who come into the gift shop. There are three “departments” within the gift shop, and each has it’s own counter and register, although merchandise may be rung up at any of the three or even at the reservation desk.

working-at-cedar-pass-lodge-badlands2My primary department has been Jewelry, which is nearest the entrance to the store and gets the busiest. There are many glass cases and counters showing off merchandise underneath them, if you work here you’ll be spending a fair bit of time pulling things out of the cases for customers to look at. The other two departments are Gifts, and Souvenirs. Souvenirs has no cases for customers to look into and we haven’t had that register open so far this year since it hasn’t gotten busy.

working-at-cedar-pass-lodge-badlands3Working retail at a tourist destination has been pretty different than working other retail jobs, in a good way. It’s simpler for one. There’s no complicated ordering or hold processes to learn, and no looking up if merchandise currently out of stock might be in a neighboring store, no installation or disposal fees to juggle. There is what there is as far as the goods go, and if the customer wants it, they’ll buy it during that one stop because soon enough they’ll be moving on. CPL does offer the option to ship your purchases to the lower 48 states, which takes a bit of time but is nothing like helping a customer fill out a store credit card application or anything like that.

There’s also a difference in the attitude of the people who walk in. They’re on vacation, leaving all the worries of their real lives behind and usually they’re in a really good mood. Which means that they’re easier to please, less likely to argue over prices, and just generally more pleasant.

working-at-cedar-pass-lodge-badlands4Besides retail, there are four other basic departments. You could work at the reservation desk, which handles rentals of the cabins located behind the lodge (they’re less than a year old, really nice looking), or rooms at the Badlands Inn located just a mile down the road on the other side of the park entrance. The maintenance crew works to keep the cabins, Lodge, Inn, and employee housing running smoothly. Housekeeping cleans the cabins, Inn, and Lodge, and then the restaurant built into the Lodge has positions for cooks, dishwashers, servers, and a hostess.


Of course, a lot of what makes a work camping experience good or bad is the people you’re working with and for. Like at Amazon, there are some workers here who despise the management, or can’t get along with their coworkers, but like at Amazon I’ve managed just fine. I focus on the positive, stay away from the drama and rumor mill, do what I’m able, and let the little annoying stuff go – we’re just seasonal workers after all, there’s no need to get bent out of shape when in five months it’ll be done and over with. A word of advice: If you ever find yourself in a work camping position that doesn’t agree with you, then don’t whine and complain about it, get the heck out of there! Your house has wheels, just go find another place where you can be happy.

working-at-cedar-pass-lodge-badlands6I will say though, there is one particular drawback that I think people have a right to complain about here, Circle 10 still isn’t ready. Circle 10 Campground is going to be entirely employee housing this year, those folks who aren’t RVers are going to be staying there in the old cabins that use to be CPL’s rental cabins until they got the new ones in. But there have been complications.

The cabins were literally picked up from behind CPL, loaded on a truck, and moved 9 miles to the campground. Several of them needed repairs since they’re older to begin with, and moving them to the new location took it’s toll on them as well. Plus apparently the water pipes hadn’t been drained properly over the winter, so a lot of the plumbing at the campground needed to be redone. We were suppose to have a pool at the campground too, it was advertised as a perk of the job but Forever Resorts bought it second hand from another company that didn’t take care of it right, and in it’s current state it violates several health codes or something, and cannot be used. It seems unlikely that it’ll get fixed up before the end of this season.

working-at-cedar-pass-lodge-badlands7Right now us RVing employees are still at the guest campground right next to CPL (with no water or sewer hookups remember) or parked behind the Badlands Inn, which has full hookups but gets really muddy when it rains. The employees without RVs are staying in the Inn, but very soon the company is going to need those rooms for guests as we get busier. It’ll be interesting to see what they do.

Overall though, I’m enjoying myself here. The view from the jewelry counter is fantastic, I have a great natural jungle gym within walking distance to explore after my shift is done, and I’ve met a lot of like minded people to hang out with. Just two more weeks until Memorial Day weekend when things really kick off, it’ll be interesting.

working-at-cedar-pass-lodge-badlands8* * *

These are some random photos I’ve taken recently, they’re pretty self explanatory. The sunset one was taken last week from my campsite, I have a even better sunset one taken more recently to share with you all later. Those black dots in the sky in the panoramic one are birds. The picture of the scenic badlands overlook with two piles of bighorn sheep poop in the foreground is for a certain duck I know who’s have a rough time of late, you’re in my thoughts.

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At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.


  1. Kim and Jerry Portelli on May 16, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    Your feelings are similar to ours, working for Xanterra at Madison Campground, here in Yellowstone. I wouldn’t be too happy about your site however. We get to live in the campground and my commute to work is only 200 yards, so that is a bonus :). I hope you continue to enjoy your summer! Take care…

    • Becky on May 17, 2013 at 9:42 am

      Glad to hear that you’re focusing on the positives and having a good time!

      Least while I’m at the temporary spot in the guest campground I can walk to work too, well, long as it isn’t raining. 😉 You guys take care too.

  2. Pleinguy on May 14, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    Good report on the realities of seasonal work. You are such a good writer, I always enjoy your take on things. Your perspective and attitude about the situation makes all the difference. Why not enjoy the experience despite the challenges? You’ll do fine I’m sure.
    Pleinguy recently posted..Forest CampMy Profile

    • Becky on May 15, 2013 at 12:15 pm

      Thanks Plein, I try my best to give the full picture of things, good and bad. I personally am enjoying myself here.

  3. MarciaGB on May 14, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Hang in there – it will all get sorted out – somehow 🙂

    • Becky on May 15, 2013 at 12:14 pm

      Haha, it really isn’t that bad Marcia. I just try to give an unbiased opinion but people always seem to run with what I say in another direction. I’m saying CPL isn’t a bad place to work, it’s just not perfect.

  4. Todd on May 14, 2013 at 9:19 am

    I’ve been to the Badlands in the past. Interesting landscape. You’ll do fine with the way you look at things. I always found that when I had a part time or seasonal job I had a different, more positive attitude than the full-timers. It seems like employers have a hard time living up to their promises. Like the “buyer beware” it’s :employees beware”.

    • Becky on May 15, 2013 at 12:13 pm

      Yeah. And I think a lot of times people come into jobs like this thinking it’ll all be fun and games, it’s partly the employers fault because they get people interested by advertising that. Then the employees start and they realize Hey, this is still work. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but for some of them it does. CPL is really a pretty neat place to work, as long as you understand that while you’re on the clock you will be working, and like any jobs it’ll have it’s pluses and minuses.

  5. Dragon on May 13, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    It looks like its almost impossible to take a bad picture in the Badlands! Thanks for sharing!

    • Becky on May 15, 2013 at 12:09 pm

      You’re welcome. 🙂

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