Backcountry Headhunter

A little company lets people live big
A little company lets people live big

Via Cool Works, you can find seasonal jobs like improving public lands in the Chattanooga, Tennessee, region with the Southeast Youth Corps. | Photo courtesy of Southeast Youth Corps

Patty Ceglio, calling from her home office in Wyoming, is explaining how she helps people find work away from the urban bustle when a police siren ricochets through downtown San Francisco, drowning her out. She laughs off the intrusion on Sierra's end, given that it has underscored her company's raison d'etre.

Ceglio is the director of operations at Cool Works, a job-search website that helps find employment for people who want to hike or ski or snowshoe to work. She's part of a seven-person team that publishes listings of mostly seasonal gigs at adventure destinations like national parks, resorts, and camps. Now in its 19th year, Cool Works draws about 1 million page views per month, with openings at national parks getting the most hits. 

The National Park Service does its own hiring, though, so Cool Works doesn't recruit rangers. "These are more the guest-service, hospitality end of things," Ceglio says.

But guest services can extend beyond schlepping bags and making beds: You can become a naturalist tour guide on the Olympic Peninsula, a gondola operator in the Colorado Rockies, a helicopter crew member on Alaskan glaciers, or a bartender in the Florida Keys. 

Even if you're cleaning cabins in Yellowstone, Ceglio points out, "at the end of the day, you can go hiking and say, 'It doesn't get any better than this.'"

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