Work at National Parks Across US

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It can be really tough trying to save enough money to travel for awhile, let alone getting paid to travel. I don’t know why this isn’t a bigger deal amongst travelers or maybe it is and I missed it? Anyways, I know all about it know and want to share a perfect way for you to make money while you’re on the road OR get paid to travel even if you aren’t in a van at all. Saving up for a converted van can be quite the long- term task and sometimes itching to get out in nature is just too overwhelming. So why not get paid to be out in nature, be housed in the process, and use that to help save up for the van! And the best part, it’s SEASONAL! This means you can work in one park for 2-3 months and then bounce to the next one across the United States to see what else you can explore.

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HOW IT WORKS

National Parks are constantly looking for seasonal people to fill certain roles such as housekeeping, gift shop employees, link cooks. They even need positions like management for the hotels and lodges, bartenders at the restaurants, and guides for various tours. Most of the positions don’t even require experience because they really are short- staffed due to being in such “tourist” type locations surrounded by nothing but miles of nature. So you can try your hand at something brand new while exploring the park and nearby areas on your days off.

WHAT COMES WITH IT

Housing

If you are planning to do this while traveling in your van, the parks will often give you a site at one of their campgrounds. This means you get to stay right in the park where most people are paying hefty fees to visit just for a couple days. Different parks handle this in various ways so some may be completely free while others deduct a very small fee from your paycheck for the campsite.

Let’s say you’re ready to get outdoors now and won’t have a van with you which means you need somewhere to stay. Most of the parks offer housing! Yes, they will allow you to stay in employee housing or some even give you a shared room in a lodge. These will almost certainly be deducted from your paycheck but you’re getting somewhere to live and it’s super inexpensive compared to renting a place in the area. Plus you’re being paid (depending on what you apply for) full- time so the overall deduction will still leave you plenty of money for spending and saving. Also, they encourage couples to do it as well! If you want travel with your partner, you can often find positions at the same park and end up getting the housing together to split the cost.

Food

Not only will a lot of these jobs offer you housing, but you can even sign up for meals! They provide meal plans if you’re interested or you can just stick to the housing or whatever best suits what you need. The food deduction is also very low and just comes directly from your paycheck so you aren’t having to worry about getting paid and then giving some back for the meals.

Getting Paid

Obviously all of the jobs available will pay differently as they require completely different skills and personality types. I have seen a lot of housekeeping positions offer full- time employment for $12-$14 an hour, while some management positions are around $20 an hour or salary. Guides spending their days outside usually make about $12 an hour plus all the tips from their guests. Bartenders are typically paid a lower hourly rate but make all the tips from busy tourist rushes at the restaurant. Have you seen some of these restaurants during prime tourist season? Holy crap, so many people. You’ll have to look up the different jobs and of course, negotiate to some degree with the employer to figure out what is fair for you to get paid.

HOW TO GET STARTED

Go to CoolWorks.com and find the tab “Find a Job”. Then go down to National Parks and see all the different parks looking for people to hire. They will list the job titles, usually the pay, any experience necessary, and the tasks that will be expected of you. There is always a contact email and phone number for you to directly apply and introduce yourself to the employer and you can get started from there! Make sure you ask questions like if the position is seasonal or not (most of them will say before applying but if not, ask) or if they offer the housing and food discussed above. 

I also want to mention that I am not at all affiliated or sponsored by this company or website. While visiting Grand Canyon National Park, I met an amazing couple that travels the country by working for different parks during different seasons using CoolWorks. They shared all about this website and spoke very highly of it. We spoke in length and they shared so much info on how it all works which led me to do research on my own. I simply thought it was a great opportunity to share with anyone wanting to travel!

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FINAL NOTES

I hope this helps if you are looking for a job that will allow you to travel whether you are in a van or not! It’s a great way to get paid and keep moving around after a few months at a beautiful National Park. Working 30-40 hours a week will offer you enough money to pay the bills and leave you plenty of time to explore outdoors or build a business on the side if you are wanting to do that as well. That couple I mentioned before from the Grand Canyon also shared with me that the interview process is often over the phone or a quick video chat. So their experience has been pretty seamless and they have loved working through CoolWorks. Let me know if you try it out and how your process goes! 

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