Ever dreamed of life on the open range? With mountain snows melting, now is the time to apply for summer jobs on ranches. Ranches hire a whole host of staff members for their busy summer seasons to help guests have the Western experience of their dreams.
While they do hire “wranglers” to work with horses, most ranches hire a wide variety of other staff members as well, including guides to take guests on hikes and boat trips, housekeeping staff, cooks, children’s program directors, maintenance workers, servers, dishwashers and more.
Curious about how to land one of these cool summer jobs? Here’s what you need to know.
What It’s Like to Work on a Ranch
Working on a ranch often means living in a fairly remote and isolated environment. If you love waking up to Rocky Mountain sunrises and spending your days with a tight crew of co-workers, you’ll probably love the ranch life.
Many ranches offer shared housing, which may include sharing bedrooms and bathrooms with co-workers. You should bring a personal vehicle, as most ranches are pretty far from public transit routes, and you’ll likely want to explore the surrounding areas during your time off.
Keep in mind that ranch work weeks are typically long, and oftentimes without a set schedule. The work will usually involve a team effort and you will be expected to try your hand at a number of different positions throughout your work week, filling in wherever your help is needed. Be sure to ask questions about housing, typical duties and work schedules before accepting a position.
The ranch lifestyle isn’t for everyone. But if you’re a flexible team player and hard worker who wants a memorable summer experience, ranch life just might be for you. Below are a few ranches still looking to hire for this summer season.
Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch
Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch is hiring ranch hands to maintain the ranch as well as people to fill a number of other positions, including cooking, baking and running the children’s program. If you work at this ranch, you’ll pretty much do whatever needs to be done, including mopping, sweeping and other cleaning duties.
During your first year as an employee, you’ll typically make $1,450 per month. Low-cost room and board options are available, and the ranch offers end-of-season bonuses if you complete your full contract.
The ranch is on 900 acres and set near the Sawtooth and White Cloud Mountains. In your off time, you can have access to a number of perks, including hot springs, fishing, paddle-boats, hiking, biking, horseback rides and whitewater rafting trips.
Want to apply? Here’s where to find more information.
Montana’s Firehole Ranch is hiring for their summer season, which begins in late May and runs through the end of September. They’re looking for staff members who can commit to the entire season, and they’re currently hiring office helpers, servers and wranglers.
This ranch is located on 640 acres on Hebgen Lake, just 18 miles from Yellowstone National Park. It focuses on fly-fishing and serves upscale clientele. To be a good candidate, you should be well-rounded, knowledgeable, eager to pick up whatever job needs to be done and comfortable working in a remote environment.
Want to be a wrangler? You must be able to care for up to eight horses, take guests on private horseback rides, and perform maintenance on the pasture, fences and corrals. You’ll be expected to pick up other duties when need be, including maintenance and housekeeping tasks.
The ranch provides dormitory-style accommodations (most with single rooms) and three meals a day in addition to a salary. Here’s where to find more information on the positions and how to apply.
Absaroka Mountain Lodge
Nestled on the eastern edge of Yellowstone National Park, Absaroka Mountain Lodge offers high mountain scenery and a taste of the ranch life. Cody, Wyoming is 39 miles away; be sure to bring your own vehicle.
This ranch is looking for cabin cleaners and restaurant servers, in addition to wranglers who have extensive horse experience. You’ll be expected to pitch in and perform a number of different jobs with a positive attitude. The ranch season is from mid-May until late September, and you’ll need to arrive by the end of the May and stay until late August, though they prefer that you’re available for the full season.
The ranch provides gender-segregated bunkhouses where you’ll share bedrooms with one or two other staff members. You’ll eat “off the menu,” and earn salary and tips in addition to room and board. Plus, you’ll earn an end-of-season bonus after completing your full contract. Here’s where you’ll find complete application instructions.
Your Turn: Would you want to work on a ranch?
Kristen Pope is a freelance writer and editor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.