2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on

Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – November/December 2005

Yosemite @ $7.38 An Hour: Seasonal Work in the National Parks

Our scribe-turned-pizzaman labors in the land of granite and pulls back the curtain on the seasonal-employment fantasy.

by: Larry Gallagher

For summer employees, then, Yosemite Valley is a wilderness, just not in the way you might expect. It's a wilderness of human distraction you must negotiate to have a meaningful time. There is no map. You have to learn the landscape on your own, wending through Sucky Job Flats and out of El Canon de los Lowlifes before you find the path to Lake Satisfaction or maybe Mt. Redemption.

There are people who successfully negotiate this wilderness. Take Graham and Cody. When I track them down at the rafting stand one morning, they're prepping the inflatables--hosing down rafts in the warm sun, checking for leaks, and making sure none of their peers is water-soluble. They're dressed in shorts and T-shirts and sandals. I ask Graham if they have to wear uniforms once the season begins. "This is my uniform," he says with a coprophagous grin.

Graham and Cody will spend their summer launching tourists into the Merced, and collecting rafts and rafters at the take-out. On their days off they head to the Wawona golf course, and at least once a summer they string together a 3- or 4-day backpacking trip.

I met Cody and Graham through their college pal Dan, who had sat behind me on the bus in from Merced. He just graduated from the University of Vermont, and is hoping to get a rafting-stand job. A few days after arriving, I stop into Human Resources to get a better grasp on the job scene. It seems the union's system weighs seniority and conduct, then doles out the prime gigs accordingly. The upshot is that the chances of a newbie scoring a job leading horse-packing trips or staffing the High Sierra camps are slim to none.

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -


Star Star Star Star Star
Jan 12, 2014

Thanks for sharing your experience.I enjoyed it. :)


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

What brand boots?
Posted On: Aug 29, 2014
Submitted By: HuntersHikes
Hiking on rocks
Posted On: Aug 29, 2014
Submitted By: Silock

View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions