Seasonal jobs can offer a few months of work in beautiful places

Horseback rider
Seasonal jobs are notoriously poorly paid, but many include subsidized or free housing and meals, plus activities such as horseback riding.
(Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)

Glimmers of post-pandemic life are beginning to appear as communities begin the long process of reopening. But if your employer or career is still on a pandemic-induced hold, you might want to check out seasonal jobs. These jobs are short-term positions that can involve being a camp counselor or providing support services such as reception, cleaning and cooking.

Seasonal jobs are notoriously poorly paid. However, many of them include subsidized or free housing and meals. Activities such as horseback riding and sailing are often provided free to the staff. And even when the jobs are not particularly fun, the locations can be.

By and large, the jobs are located in oceanfront or lakeside resorts, dude ranches and scenic mountain camps. In other words, they’re in places where you might want to spend your summer. And because the jobs last only a few months, they may be able to keep you busy while you wait for something better.



Of course, like everything else, most seasonal jobs were put on hold during the pandemic and are likely to come back slowly. Yellowstone Jobs, for example, normally starts ramping up in early spring. The site typically hires some 3,500 seasonal workers to staff resorts in Yellowstone National Park. This year, park facilities are slated to remain closed until June 14, so the site has “paused” all hiring.

And the coronavirus isn’t gone. Group living situations raise the odds of infection for anyone, and people who are especially vulnerable should be particularly cautious.

Finding seasonal jobs

Officials at seasonal job platform CoolWorks say that even the places that are actively hiring will probably hire fewer workers this year. That’s because travel and entertainment venues are expecting light crowds because of continuing worries about the coronavirus.

That said, more than 93 employers have posted job openings on CoolWorks since the beginning of May.

With part-time and seasonal job listings in almost every state, CoolWorks provides free access to a wide range of possibilities.

June 6, 2020

Intriguing locations

Some of the top employers posting jobs on CoolWorks this summer include summer camps in Maine, dude ranches in Colorado and salmon hatcheries in Alaska. A half dozen worth considering:


Robin Hood Camp near Bar Harbor, Maine, is looking for 165 staffers, ranging from cooks to camp counselors. Staffers are housed with campers in bunk houses, about 19 total per bunk house. The average age of staff is 22. Pay varies based on position.

Polebridge Mercantile and Bakery in Montana’s Glacier National Park has a variety of openings. Yurt-style shared housing and some meals are provided for a fee of $8 a day.

The French Country Inn in Wisconsin has multiple cooking and baking positions open. Compensation depends on position; housing assistance is provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

C Lazy U dude ranch in Granby, Colo., is looking for cooks, reservations agents and a concierge. Shared housing costs max out at $150 a month. All meals are provided, as is some horseback riding.

YMCA camps in northern Utah are hiring for multiple positions, including kitchen staff, camp counselors and horse “wranglers.” Near Deer Valley, the camps provide housing and meals.

Smiley Creek Lodge in Idaho is looking to fill several positions. The lodge, at the base of the Sawtooth Mountains, provides housing and some meals, plus discounts on other meals.

Positions overseas

SeasonWorkers, which finds overseas work for seasonal workers, has job postings for fruit pickers in Scotland and camp staffers in England. The site lists a variety of other options as well. However, beware. Some of the opportunities on this site are not really jobs. They’re volunteer opportunities and classes that require you to pay for tuition and travel.

If seasonal work appeals to you, also be sure to search the traditional job site Indeed. A quick search for seasonal work on Indeed landed dozens of leads, including one for a summer camp counselor based at Pepperdine University in Malibu and a surf camp instructor in Santa Monica. Indeed’s search engine allows you to narrow your search by both job category and geography.

Kristof is the editor of, an independent site that reviews hundreds of money-making opportunities in the gig economy.