What: Seasonal jobs in Yellowstone National Park

Expected pay: starts at $9.50 per hour, plus overtime and perks

Husl$core: $$$

Commissions & fees: NA

Where: Jobs available to applicants anywhere, but will be performed in Yellowstone National Park, which is located in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho

Requirements: vary by position

Review: It’s rare for SideHusl’s editors to become so enamored by a job opportunity that they contemplate pitching everything to apply, but the seasonal work in Yellowstone National Park was that tempting. Of course, that was before we read through all the seasonal worker reviews, which complained about having to work tons of overtime and the sketchy housing, which is why this opportunity gets just an average Husl$core.

The jobs themselves are pretty standard. You could work as part of the kitchen staff, cleaning or laundry crew, or work as a receptionist or desk clerk at any one of nine lodging facilities, restaurants or campgrounds operated by Xanterra Travel, one of Yellowstone’s primary concessionaires. Xanterra wants you to work at least 40 hours a week and will pay overtime at time-and-a-half, if you exceed the 40 hours (which is likely during the summer’s peak season). Your pay is set by position and experience. However, it’s never less than the $9.50 per hour starting pay. There’s also an end-of-the-season bonus that can amount to as much as $1,000.

The resort also offers a laundry-list of perks, such as subsidized housing and food, asking for less than $100 per month for a dorm-style room and roughly $325 per month for three cafeteria meals per day. These are not luxurious accomodations nor is the food gourmet. But if you don’t mind roughing it, you get to partake in park activities, such as horseback riding or taking a boat on the lake, during your free time for free. (Other park visitors pay hundreds of dollars for the same activities.) You also get low-cost medical care ($16 per two-week pay period) for a plan that pays everything but a $15 deductible.

Jobs generally start in April and end in October. The job requirements are things like “have a positive attitude” — i.e. these don’t generally require anything but life skills, such as the ability to carry a plate or make a bed. Xanterra says it will favor those who can work through the entire season, which is one of the reasons why the company courts active retirees.

Incidentally, Xanterra operates concessions in other national parks, too. So, if you like the opportunity but want to see another park, you may be able to take your next seasonal job in Zion National, the Grand Canyon or Mount Rushmore.

If this kind of work appeals to you, also check out CoolWorks and SeasonWorkers

What their workers say: (from Glassdoor)

I really enjoy living in a National Park, and working for a private concessionaire is the only way to do it besides NPS. Xanterra is also quite generous with promotions as long as you work hard and stick around, so it’s a great way to build your resume. But this company does not pay well, and most people that work here also have to pay for dorm-style housing and a cafeteria meal plan. HR plays favorites, and a lot of problems go unaddressed because of this. Partying and underage drinking happens way too frequently. Dealing with tourists all the time can also become exhausting during the busy season. 

The best part about working for Xanterra is the location – Yellowstone! But the hours are unpredictable and you may only get one day off a week. Not much time to enjoy where you live.

Great opportunities to grow in the hospitality industry due to cross training. Stay there long enough or even for a short time and the community becomes your family. Proximity to large cities Los Angeles and Las Vegas and San Diego as well as multiple outdoor recreational sites and parks including Sedona, Zion, Lake Powell, North Rim etc. Discounts at local restaurants as well as heavily discounted employee meals. A great company for work/life balance. You can work a lot in the summer and have plenty of time off in the winter. Great place to work and save money whether you’re permanent, seasonal, or International Student. On the other hand, the Internet service provided by centurylink is pretty bad. Paying over $60 a month for 2004 internet speeds is no fun. Housing is also pretty bad, especially for year round employees. Small cramped dorm rooms. Apartments available to management and occasionally hourly employees. People that have been there for years can be a bit cynical which rubs off on others.

Beautiful scenery, quiet lifestyle and a great place to escape from the real world. And horrible living conditions, food options and slave wages.

Opportunities to live in amazing places, meet amazing people (both your coworkers from all over the world and guests from all over the world), and gain professional hospitality experience. There are lots of opportunities for growth for those who put the effort and drive in and there’s an entire department dedicated to providing development opportunities. The experiences (both professionally and personally) and friendships that take place can be life-changing. It’s not uncommon to help guests who are having a “once-in-a-lifetime trip”, and you get to be a part of that experience for them. But living and working in such a remote location with limited housing makes it hard to be over-staffed so you definitely work hard! Though, I feel like this just solidifies my work ethic and usually those who succeed greatest are those who don’t like to be bored or stand around, they enjoy being busy and picking up a multitude of responsibilities.

You get to live in a national park and meet people from around the world. When all the international people and the college students leave, they make you work 12 hour days, making beds and washing dishes. If you don’t have a car there is no way to explore the park, because there’s no transportation within it.

The seasonal position offers a wonderful experience in one of the most beautiful places in the world. You’ll be surrounded by people who all share a common interest/mentality and there are many ways you can grow from this experience. That said, the job is exhausting. They had me washing dishes for 12 hour shifts when I first got out there and it was back-breaking work. I cried a bit, almost left. But then I got moved to the employee dining room serving food/washing considerably less dishes. My shifts started mostly at 4:30 in the morning but I grew to like it as it meant I could get out around 2 and spend the rest of my day chillin in the great outdoors. My advice is to apply as a server or a gift shop worker or as a painter or apply to work at the campground.

1. I worked for almost 3 weeks at Xanterra this summer. I was not allowed to take a day off the entire time I was with the company. Seriously. Then, after working 2+ weeks straight (an average of 7.5 hours per day), I got very ill and when I had to take a sick day, my manager flipped out and ridiculed me about it.2. Hard work is not acknowledged by your superiors. My female managers (who were quite young) actually flirted with my male coworkers while working and then would be abrupt, if not rude, to the remaining employees, all of whom are female too.
3. Management is extremely poor, mainly because even the managers quit all the time. While I was there, 2 different members of upper management quit with no notice.
4. Schedules are not assigned until the day prior to it taking effect and management frequently changes the schedules the night before. AKA, you might think you have Tuesday off, but Monday night, management is likely to change that and get angry if you don’t show up (this happened to a friend of mine in the housekeeping department)
5. Employees literally quit all the time. Within the first 3 weeks of the lodge opening, 30-40% of employees quit every single year. The company knows and prepares for it by shuttling in international employees nonstop. They do not care if you complain because they can replace you with a student from Asia or South America without any issue
6. Employee housing is within 50-70 feet of the lodge, meaning you literally live at work. Additionally, there is nowhere to go for employees when you’re off work, except hike. And hiking is lovely, but it is so dangerous out at Yellowstone. While I was there, one of my coworkers went hiking by himself for about an hour and he has been missing for the past 9 days.
7. You pay $100 per week for the dorm and meals at the Employee Dining Room (EDR) and it is deducted from your paycheck, which comes every two weeks. So basically, deduct $200 from each of your expected paychecks. ***** If you are a college student, I promise, this is not worth it. Work closer to home and you will make way more money. I love being away at my university, but three weeks at Xanterra made me miserable and desperate to return home because of the stress and isolation.

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