I actually saw the job posting on a college bulletin board in the spring of 1988 and thought it sounded like a great adventure.
I was finishing my sophomore year in college and was looking for the “not so usual” summer job. I had lived briefly in Montana in grade school and knew how beautiful it was there.
I talked a friend into applying with me, but she eventually backed out and I decided to go anyway.
That summer was incredible!
Waking up across the road from St. Mary’s Lake, hiking and camping all over the Montana and Canadian Rockies, campfire nights with other National Park employees from all over the US, and exploring the other lodges made for a very exciting and carefree summer!
I worked at the Rising Sun Motor Inn in housekeeping. We spent the better part of the day cleaning cabins and rooms and spent two days/week hiking and camping.
We hiked all over Glacier National Park and saw incredible scenery, walked where very few people walked and saw wildlife that very few people get to see. W
e saw big horn sheep, mountain goats, bears, eagles, marmots, moose and deer in their natural habitat.
Often after our work day was done, employees would meet at the lake by a bon fire and share stories and build friendships.
We also took boat tours on St. Mary’s lake or rode one of the red tour buses to another lodge to hang out with other employees. One of our favorite things to do was trade rooms with the Waterton Park employees in Canada.
My favorite memory was an all day hike to Gunsight Lake where we camped over night. A grizzly bear had traversed our path about six miles into the hike, but we proceeded anyway. Little did we know that would be the least of our worries!
We spent the night scaring the mountain goats away. A whole family of them seemed to be intent on chewing holes in the tent. This was just one of many, many adventures.
I’d recommend a National Park summer job to anyone who’s looking for an adventure.
Comment from Perry
I had a similar experience this past summer with a Mountain Goat family on the Gunsight Lake Trail.
My girlfriend and I were climbing over Ellen Wilson Pass and a family of Mountain Goats stopped us. They were very aggressive and we had to maneuver around them, which was quite frightening to do because it was such a steep drop off.
Anyway, we made it safe and sound, but those mountain goats can be dangerous!!
Thanks for sharing!
Working at Glacier Park Lodge – Summer 1980
It was the summer between my Jr. and Sr. yr of college.
I asked my dad if I was nuts to go to Montana alone–a nearly 20 year old female? He said no, I had to do what I had to do, so I headed from Pittsburgh to GPL on Amtrak on May 17,1980.
My summer adventure started early on May 18th when the train came to a halt and we were told that Mt. St. Helen’s had erupted and the train could go no further.
We were in Mynot, ND train station and it seemed like we were there a long time before we boarded buses and continued. Every 3 hrs, we stopped for a snack where one of the our busmates would go and buy a case a beer for our bus.
Needless to say, the bus ride was long but lively. When we landed at East Glacier train station at 1:00 AM, it was me and two other workers. The ash was so thick that we didn’t know the lodge was right across the street, so we slept on the floor!
Everyone who worked that summer will remember that the ash fell for a week or so and the water in our faucets came out gray and gritty for at least a month. I had friends who got eye infections. That was back before bottled water was popular. We had no choice but to put up with the grit.
My job was as a reservation clerk…our team was about ten of us. I was from PA, there was one from UT, one from HI, One from IA, one from MN, one from NYC, and then there was a married woman from MT, and the returning leaders–Mimi, Marty, and Randi. We were on the phone all day, every day, but it was fun because we talked to every park hotel every day. The advantage was that whenever we ventured out on our days off, we always had some friends to visit and to share stories and fun.
I wanted to see as much of the park as I could, so I would venture out every chance I got, with whoever else had a day off too.
I saw my first bear and moose when I hiked near Lake MacDonald Lodge, I had lunch with the ground squirrels on numerous hikes at Many Glacier. (we put 6 girls in a single employees room with 1 twin bed–cost $10.)
I ended up staying in the boys dorm (one of my friends gave up his room for the night)at Prince of Wales Hotel because I got stranded and had no place to stay. I woke up with a Big horn sheep braying outside my window in the morning.
I hiked on the railroad tracks by GPL and saw a place where the bears came to snack on corn mash from a train wreck 10 years before.
I saw at least 6 bears in 3-4 family groups in one spot. It was fun, they seemed to get drunk on the corn mash.
Other favorite memories include sleeping on the golf course…How smart is that in an open range state? But I found out why it’s called Big Sky country! Best food was the homemade sweet rolls at the dinner in East Glacier.
Biggest shock was the number of bats that lived in the laundry area. The reservation girls hung out with the gardners. They were handsome and nice. Also, met the most interested guy named Griz who used to be a Hell’s Angle. It snowed on my birthday–May 25th which was the first snow that the clerk from HI had seen.
I left at the end of the summer on the train with the girl from MN. I cried for a couple of hours when she got off and I realized that my adventure was really over.
I got Glacier fever every summer for at least the next 5 or six years but never made it back. I alway wished that I would have kept the addresses of the wonderful reservations team, but I didn’t. Of course this was back in the day before the internet or facebook was ever imagined.
That summer changed my life and gave me confidence to pursue new jobs and adventures.
Glacier Park Lodge Job in 1980s – East Glacier Montana
Glacier Park Lodge, East Glacier MT…
Summer time 1980 and 1981. Wow, things were certainly free and easy being surrounded by all that natural beauty.
Great times were had…
I would encourage everybody to work in Glacier National Park for a summer and enjoy a place as special as this.
Comment From K Miller
I spent the summer working and hiking in Glacier National Park. All these years later it holds a special place in life filled with wonderful memories!
My memories of working at Glacier National Park
Thomas J Pidgeon
I have so many favorite memories from working at Glacier National Park back in the 80s.
Here’s one of my favorites:
Hiking with one of the many friends I made there, a Jammer driver.
We were hiking towards the evening, and it was raining a little bit, and I heard this noise, like grass ruffling.
“It sounded like a moose,” I said.
“I’ll bet that was a bear,” said my friend. I turned around, always wanting to see a bear up close, and we seen the prettiest brown bear, it was almost blonde. It was really cool.
Another favorite memory:
Hiking with my friend Larry from Utah we saw Jack Nicholson, as he was motorcycle touring.
Jack was one of his favorite actors, and he had asked me, “What do you think, should we get his autograph?”
I said he probably came here to be left alone, let’s not attract attention.
Jack then smiled at us and Larry said he was sure that was him, smiling almost as if he were saying thanks for not attracting attention.
If it wasn’t Jack Nicholson, then it was definitely his twin!
All the many friends I made there, from Russia, Chechnya, Germany, Africa, people from all over the States and the world.
Hiking Avalanche Trail, so, so, beautiful.
It has been awhile since I have worked there, but I want to go back.
It was a wonderful time in my life.
Comment from Tim
Tom did you work there in the summer of 1988? And you were a boxer? I think I remember you. I served in the employee cafeteria, if that was you.
My Summers Working at Many Glacier Hotel
Well, I am 43 years old now. I always hated it when people would say “that was the best time of my life,” because…really. Why put the best time in your life behind you?
But I have to say that the 3 summers I spent working at Many Glacier Hotel/Swiftcurrent were for sure the HAPPIEST times of my life…SO FAR.
I hiked over 200 miles one summer. It is breathtaking scenery.
You never get enough of it–ever.
I was studying religion as an undergraduate at the time, and I had experiences outdoors that changed the way I looked at God, the Church, and life in general. It sort of gave me a new focus to my life.
By the end of the summer I felt more sure of what I wanted in my life and of how I wanted to live. It was definitely an experience that molded my life.
Also, I have never been so in shape and in harmony with my own body, before or since.
Also, I have never been around such a variety of people as my fellow workers, for better or for worse, before or since.
But don’t get the idea that it is Paradise. People are there, and bears, and Paradise…well…it doesn’t really exist here.
But there are bits of it in the natural world around Many Glacier, and I’d say go expecting the regular world with all its flaws…and a little bit of the “Best You’d Ever Experienced” tossed along with it.
As long as you hit the trails.