Thinking of Summer

thinking-of-summerThis week I have sent in five applications to various National Park concessionaires as temperatures start climbing into the 90’s and humidity levels inside the RV hit 70%. June 8th and the end of the renaissance festival is coming up fast.

I’m positively giddy. You see, to me working these kinds of jobs hardly feels like work, last year I had a good time at the Badlands Β and met some really great people. So it’s kind of like playing bingo or scratching off a lottery ticket, waiting to see which jaw-droppingly beautiful location gets back to me first. Except even better, because my chances are markedly increased compared to playing the lottery, and I don’t need to pay to enter.

Right now I’ve put in for two companies in the Grand Canyon, two at Yellowstone, and one at the Grand Tetons. I couldn’t tell you which I’d prefer at this point, they’re all neat in their own way.

Last year I sent in applications to three companies each in a different park and did interviews and was offered a job at all of them. I’ll be curious to see what the ratio looks like this time since I’m applying later. One would think most jobs would already be taken, but I remember at Cedar Pass we had several people not turn up or leave early. Either way it’ll be good information to have.

What about you, where are you headed this summer? The most tragic part of this whole process is that I must choose one park and there are so many great places to visit, so lets hear them!

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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. Jodee Gravel on May 25, 2014 at 10:27 am

    I hope the toughest thing will be having to choose between three offers. Of the three I’ve only been to the Tetons in early June. Weather was ideal with no crowds in the park. Jacksonhole was crazy busy on the weekend and veeeery expensive (still loved it). All are incredible places and for me I’d decide based on the type of work :-). This is our last summer in the S&B so our “plans” are centered around downsizing our stuff :-(.
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..Poetry, Stow-Away Kitten, Afternoon Rain and Cake Pie – A Memorable Birthday IndeedMy Profile

    • Becky on May 26, 2014 at 9:37 pm

      Hee, I hope so too Jodee. I’ve heard Tetons isn’t as crowded compared to the other two and I worked with a couple in the Badlands last summer who’d worked at the Tetons before and loved it, hence why I applied.

      I hope your downsizing goes smoothly! I remember being at that point in the process, it probably seems really daunting right now but if you just work at it a little at a time you’ll get through it. Take care and hope to hear from you on the road soon!

  2. Bob Wells on May 24, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    If you are looking for a summer job right away, I know of a great one right now near the Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming. He needs three people right away and they can be singles or marrieds. He pays $9 an hour for every hour worked and you get a free site. One of them is for a fry cook.

    Scott, one of my blog readers, very generously offered to let Judy and I stay at the campground (Teton Range Resort he manages for free. It’s located literally 2 miles from the East entrance to the Grand Teton NP and you will have a view of the Tetons from your campsite! And it’s only 32 miles to Yellowstone NP. I couldn’t turn that down and so we’ve been here for a few days and it is a wonderful campground! Heart

    Scott is as nice a guy as you will ever hope to meet and I think he will be a great boss for somebody. He started out as a campground host and worked his way up so he treats people like he wants to be treated. For more info contact Scott at:

    • Becky on May 26, 2014 at 9:35 pm

      Thanks Bob for the lead! Sadly I’m not free until June 18-19th, my contract here at the festival goes two more weekends then I need to get a little work done in Texas before taking my next job. I’ll e-mail Scott anyhow though, it doesn’t hurt. I hope you’re having fun out there! Hopefully we’ll get the chance to meet someday.

  3. Ron on May 24, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    I would pick the Grand Tetons if you have the choice. Stunningly beautiful & much less crowded. Close to Yellowstone for day trips on days off. Not HOT like the Grand Canyon.
    Let us know of your offers & good luck. Ron

    • Becky on May 26, 2014 at 9:32 pm

      Yep I’ll let you all know, take care too Ron. πŸ™‚

  4. Reine on May 24, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Good Luck on your summer employment. The only problem I see with Grand Canyon or Yellowstone is that they are more popular and well known parks so there may be more folks applying to them. But then they have more visitors so probably need more workers so it probably balances out.

    One comment we heard from the ranger when we were at Grand Canyon was that it was the only place he had worked where you often needed the Air Conditioning during the day and the Heater at night.As long as the campground for workers has hookups, I wouldn’t worry about the heat.

    • Becky on May 26, 2014 at 9:31 pm

      Yep Reine the campground has electric so that wouldn’t be an issue, late spring and early fall in the Badlands was like that too, comes from being a more desert-y environment I think. Thanks!

  5. Roger on May 24, 2014 at 9:23 am

    Hi Becky,

    As you know I am working at Sequoia National Park, it is really cool up here at 7500Ft.. If your interested I am working for Delaware North Companies and they may still be hiring. it is about 1.5 hours from Fresno Ca.and it is usually at least 20 degrees cooler up here than in Fresno.


    • Becky on May 26, 2014 at 9:29 pm

      I’ll keep that in mind Roger! I interviewed with DNC last summer for Yellowstone and they seemed like decent people, the pay just wasn’t as good as the Badlands, hehe. We’ll see.

  6. Curious by Nature on May 24, 2014 at 9:11 am

    Yellowstone is gorgeous, teeming with wildlife, hot springs, and unique geology. We took our grandson there a few years ago, and had a great time!

    Must be great to be so excited about working. A new job is always an adventure, and a challenge, you get to do this multiple times a year!

    • Becky on May 26, 2014 at 9:27 pm

      It’s been nearly 16 years since I’ve seen Yellowstone but I do remember it being magnificent, even at 14 years old. I’m glad you and your grandson had a good time there. πŸ™‚

      Yes it is! Working a “real” job was never this fun, forget about the lower pay, it’s totally worth it for the greater degree of happiness. I’m a professional adventurer. πŸ˜‰

  7. Furry Gnome on May 24, 2014 at 8:47 am

    My travelling is a little different. Our canoeing group collapsed, so a friend and I decided to have our own paddles – once a week we aim to get out all summer. So far we’ve been out three times. The plan is working!

    • Becky on May 26, 2014 at 9:25 pm

      Oooh that sounds like fun Gnome! That’s what a lot of my trips were like when I worked a steady job, planned weekends out… it’s still a very viable way to enjoy the summer and can be a lot cheaper than taking an actual vacation since day trips don’t require paying for a hotel or RV spot. Enjoy!

  8. Jim@HiTek on May 24, 2014 at 8:00 am

    If I were doing what you’re doing, I’d check how hot it is during the summer at each location and choose the coolest and least crowded offer. GC is super hot in summer and gets millions of visitor that time of year…

    Maybe see if Lake Tahoe has something for you. Also gets summer hot, but not so bad. And crowds are thinner. Also has a renaissance fair each June I think. Just a suggestion.

    • Becky on May 26, 2014 at 9:23 pm

      Hee, thanks Jim but I’m willing to put up with heat for a gorgeous location. I spent my first summer in Cas in South Carolina, which is hot and humid. The Badlands is classified as a semi-arid prairie and had a fair bit of dry hot weather. Since I have well-functioning A/C it doesn’t bother me so much, I can always be comfortable in Cas. As for the crowds, well, if the place wasn’t crowded I wouldn’t be able to get 40 hours a week for a seasonal position. Less crowded places like Lake Tahoe don’t take seasonal RVers so much, but thanks for the thought!

  9. marshall A on May 23, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    Were taking a short trip to Carlsbad NM to see the caverns in early June. Still planning out the rest of the summer.

    Good luck in your search for a summer position.

    • Becky on May 26, 2014 at 9:18 pm

      Oooh, I’ve heard great things about that place marshall. Enjoy and thanks!

  10. Mike Goad on May 23, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    We’re just now starting to plan our travels. Our hope is to head up towards Montana and then come back to Arkansas by way of Wisconsin (so we can see out grandkids — and their parents, of course πŸ˜‰ ).

    Our tentative route will take us up through Oklahoma and Kansas into western Nebraska and then South Dakota. We’ll almost certainly make it back to visit Badlands and Custer State Park. We haven’t been to Wind Cave National Park, but would like to try to camp there. Based on your recommendation, we’ll try to make it to Jewell Cave National Monument.

    We’re thinking after the Black Hills of heading over to Devils Tower, Wyoming and then to Cooke City, Montana, just outside Yellowstone. We want to do the Beartooth Highway drive again. We did it in 2007, but were staying in Billings, which ended up making it a very long and tiring day. We haven’t done any planning past Cooke City.

    I think if I were to work in any of the parks you mentioned, I would prefer either Yellowstone or the Tetons. We’ve been to the Grand Canyon twice and probably won’t make a special effort to go back again. I have no idea how many times we have been to Yellowstone and the Tetons. We lived about 200 miles away in Idaho for about 4 years. Our exploring seemed to draw us more to the Yellowstone and Teton area than anywhere else. And we’ve been back numerous times since. This summer would make the third time since I retired in early 2007.

    Best of luck at getting a position for the summer. I hope you have an enjoyable experience if you get it.
    Mike Goad recently posted..Ben Long EarMy Profile

    • Becky on May 26, 2014 at 9:14 pm

      Sounds like a fun summer Mike, enjoy! I’ll be flying to Wisconsin next week to visit my parents in between festival weekends.

      I hope you enjoy western SD as much as I did, the Badlands and Custer State Park are only an hour and a half apart and yet they’re so different geographically, it’s a neat contrast. And yes I did like both caves, again they’re distinctly different for being so close to each other.

      I’ve been to Yellowstone once as a teenager. I enjoyed it but the trip was rushed, I’d like to spend more time out that way. If it doesn’t happen this summer perhaps the next.

      Take care.

  11. Rob on May 23, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    I’m at Adventureland in Iowa, my second season here, it’s fun. Good luck with your job hunt.
    The Grand Canyon would be great!

    If nothing works out Adventureland is still looking.
    Rob recently posted..Lifestyle choicesMy Profile

    • Becky on May 26, 2014 at 9:10 pm

      I knew a few people at Amazon who also worked Adventureland. I’ll keep it in mind Rob.

      Grand Canyon would be great… but then so would the other places. So many neat places to see in this country.

  12. Pleinguy on May 23, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    Well, I’ll be in the Glacier, Yellowstone and Tetons area sometime this summer. Let me know where you end up; maybe I can stop by.
    Pleinguy recently posted..Pipe SpringsMy Profile

    • Becky on May 26, 2014 at 9:08 pm

      Sounds good Plein! Whichever place I end up I’ll be announcing it as soon as I know of course. With luck our paths will cross one of these months. πŸ™‚

  13. Kim on May 23, 2014 at 9:19 pm


    Good luck with the lottery! Like you, I feel like I’ve already won.

    BTW, I’m situated at the same latitude as you and the sweltering heat signals it’s time to go-go-go.

    Perhaps we will cross paths once more. I’ll also be passing through Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons in the early Fall after spending the summer in the Pacific Northwest.

    Ain’t we lucky?
    Kim recently posted..Road Trip PrepMy Profile

    • Becky on May 26, 2014 at 9:07 pm

      We are so lucky Kim! Enjoy your trip, it sounds like it’ll be a lot of fun. Festival this weekend was upper 80’s all three days, phew! Almost time…

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