This year the National Park Service (NPS) celebrates 100 years of trails, forests, and wilderness. I love exploring national parks, and immersing myself in the history and nature that accompanies them!
Two summers ago I spend a season living in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). It was a summer filled with hiking, new friends, and lots of memories. If you’re thinking of what to do with your next summer before school, consider working in a national park!
Though I technically did not work directly for the NPS, the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, CO, is surrounded by RMNP by 3 sides and works with the park in many ways.
I started my job at YMCA of the Rockies in May of 2014. Before I left for the summer I didn’t know a single soul in Colorado! Heading to a new place without knowing anyone was daunting ,but it was also one of the best decisions I ever made. Aside from meeting new people from all over the United States, I met and befriended people from all over the world! My first roommates were a lively bunch by way of the Philippines. We spent many nights staying up and sharing stories of culture with those whose lives seemed so different. After spending a few weeks together it was obvious that it didn’t matter where we were from, we all could appreciate our own experiences and enjoy each others company during our time in the Rockies.
Living in a national park also means that the park is your playground! Some of the best hikes could be right outside your front door. Aside from hiking, camping and national park guided tours are also a perk of living and working at a national park. One of my friends even kept a map highlighting all of the hikes she had made, and tallying up all of the miles completed by the end of the summer. National parks in the U.S. are visited by millions of people each year, but tourists usually stay for a few days or weeks at a time. Working in a national park for a season give you several months of exploring every corner of the park. By the end of the summer you’ll be calling the park home!
Even today, memories of living in RMNP linger. From swinging between Aspen trees in my hammock, inhaling the fresh scent of wildflowers, and looking out among the vast mountain range that is the Rocky Mountains. I remember thinking that life doesn’t get much sweeter than watching the sunrise from the top of a mountain top and I have yet to prove that idea wrong.
The best part about working at a national park is the diverse national park across the country that offer seasonal work. From working in administration, as a ranger or even in hospitality, the NPS offers a variety of jobs! Learn more about NPS jobs here.
So what are you waiting for? Could living in a national park be the next story in your adventure?