Last year, I threw most of my things into a couple bags and set out on a journey to the other side of the country to work in Yellowstone National Park. And, 3 days ago, I made my way back for round 2.
I am so happy to be here! As I write this, I am sitting in my dorm room looking out of my window at a geyser that is about to go off.
Living in Yellowstone National Park is very much like the summer camps that you went to as a child in 3 main ways:
-You are constantly around the same people all day. Every day. You work, play, and live with the same people, and it is very conducive for building strong relationships.
-You have no real responsibilities. Yes, you have to go to your job. You are WORKING in the park, however, everyone is very laid back, and the work environment is not like anything else that you’ve ever experienced.
-And you do fun, stupid, wild, and amazing stuff all the time. The park is so full of adventure and excitement that you could come for 10 years and not do everything that is out there.
Just with a bit more money, and a bit more freedom.
You have one of the most beautiful places in the world at your feet, and you get to explore it with 100 other crazy people just like you.
Here is how to most properly utilize your time in the park
#1 Make friends
This might seem obvious, but it is very important. Everyone you meet working here is going to be a lot like you in some ways, and a lot different in others. But everyone seems to be very good at becoming close friends fast. As soon as you get to your location, just start introducing yourself to everyone immediately, and getting personal fast. Make plans to eat or hike together in the very first conversation that you ever have with people. It might seem weird, but, trust me, you are going to be very happy that you did it.
#2 Leave your room
Again, an obvious suggestion, but an important one, nonetheless. The park is too big to fully see in a lifetime, and you’re only going to be there for a few months, so you need to make the most of your time. Even just walking to the employee dining room, the employee pub, or the local trail makes your time there so much more valuable. This is an experience that you will remember for the rest of your life, so you need to make sure you remember more than just a crappy dorm.
#3 Keep an open mind
Coming out to Yellowstone is a wonderful thing, but for some people it can be very hard. If you are afraid of a lot of things, uncomfortable with yourself, or have preconceived notions about others, then you need to leave all of that in your hometown before you arrive here. People are going to surprise you. You are going to learn a lot about yourself. And you are going to do things that you never thought you would do. Let it happen. Don’t stop yourself from experiencing everything because you were a little afraid, nervous, uncomfortable, or judgmental.
#4 Have fun and don’t die
There are a million and one things to do while in the park. You aren’t going to be able to do every possible thing. Decide what you want to do, what you like, what excites you, and find people to do that with. Everyone will be pulling you in different directions, but just do what is going to make you happy. But don’t forget to push the envelope and do things that you normally wouldn’t sometimes, because that is what it is all about. Also, make sure to stay safe while in the park. There are a lot of things that, if not planned for/handled/approached properly, can get you killed. Listen to the rangers always. Carry bear spray always. Hike in groups always. And use common sense always.
It takes a little time to get used to. And I admit it is easier for me because I already love adventure, and I didn’t have a great deal of responsibilities at home.
But doing this last year changed my life, and this summer is going to be amazing as well. I highly recommend giving it a try to anyone and everyone looking for something more.
I hope that you use these tips if you ever find yourself in the park, and, if you do, contact me, I would love to meet up with you if I’m still here 🙂
Drew – the kind nomad
ps If you know someone that is currently off on an adventure or is soon departing, and you think this info would benefit them, then share it on his/her timeline 😉