My journey into seasonal life began in the summer of 2019. I was approaching my senior year of college as a Creative Writing major at the University of Iowa, and after just spending the previous summer studying abroad in Ireland, I was seeking another adventure to fuel my creative spirit. I spent my 2019 spring break kayaking and backpacking through the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in southern Utah with a school trip, and that was when I knew for sure that I needed to explore more of the outdoors and the western US. This was my first time ever even camping, let alone backpack-kayaking! It was so far out of my comfort zone, but being out of my comfort zone was what inspired me the most in my art (writing and photography). It was scary, but I was ready for my next leap of faith.
I found the CoolWorks website and was in awe of all of the possibilities. I didn’t even know seasonal work was really a thing at the time, but it sounded perfect for a temporary job in between college years. I accepted an offer to be a baker in Grand Teton National Park for the summer. I had never been to Wyoming before, but all of the pictures I saw online of the Tetons was enough to convince me that that was where I needed to be. I even convinced one of my friends from school to come out to the Tetons with me!
My parents drove out to the park with me, and on our first day entering the park, a MASSIVE elk was just hanging out eating grass next to the park entrance booth. Further down the road, we got caught in our first ever “bear jam” as the famous Grizzly 399 and her cubs crossed the highway. Snow still sat thickly on top of the Tetons. Being originally from Long Island, New York, I was so uncomfortable, but in the very best way possible. The next few months were filled with some of the greatest adventures: spotting wildlife I had never seen in person before, hiking the hardest trails I had ever been on, kayaking, camping, climbing mountains, and exploring both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.
I loved working in the Tetons so much that western Wyoming was all I could think about during my senior year back at Iowa. I decided to return to the Tetons the following summer after graduation, but the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the lodge I was supposed to work at. I was heartbroken at the thought of not returning to my favorite place. Fortunately, another property within the same company decided to open and called to offer me a position working at their campground. I jumped at the opportunity, and by the time I had my virtual graduation and moved my stuff out of my apartment in Iowa City, I was moving back to the Tetons.
My seasonal job experience so far has included two summer jobs with Grand Teton Lodge Company in Grand Teton National Park, one winter job with Deer Valley in Park City, Utah, and a current summer job with Pursuit in Glacier National Park. I met my current boyfriend during my second summer in the Tetons, and since then we have been traveling around and exploring the country together. For someone from a small suburb on the east coast who didn’t really know what she wanted to do with her life, seasonal work gave me the chance to explore different jobs and gain new skills without the constant pressure of “needing” to figure out a clear and defined path. I am so thankful for my seasonal experiences, my family supporting my not-so-normal decisions, the friends I’ve made along the way, the confidence in myself (especially in the outdoors) that I’ve gained, and having the best travel partner I could ask for. 💜