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Yellowstone and hiking: server assistant or laundry worker?

I just received an offer from Xanterra to work either as a laundry worker or server assistant. I don't know the exact location of the later job, but the former is in Gardiner. So my two questions are:

  1. Is Gardiner good for hiking? Experiencing the backcountry is the main reason I've applied. Has anyone lived/worked there and hiked in his/her spare time? Are there opportunities to get deeper into Yellowstone by bus, do an overnight hike etc.? Any comments would be greatly appreciated.
  2. What working as a server assistant or laundry worker is like? Server assistant seems to be easier physically, but perhaps more demanding mentally - especially for a more focused and introverted guy like me. Is the work schedule suitable for hiking at all (irregular working hours and shifts?). Again, I would be highly grateful for every comment.

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Server assistant will have both day and evening shifts and often split shifts, depending on location. Not great for hiking, but much better $$$ than laundry (especially if you get promoed to server). Laundry is more likely to be more stable shift-wise. Since you don't know where the server shift is, I can't vouch for the hiking. Some areas are better than others.

Gardiner is outside of Yellowstone itself; It is where the main offices are. Cool town and some decent hiking, but a car can get you to many good spots.  

laundy u be working only one shift  i used to work in laundry in 05  u live what they call an bunkhouse  2 to an room  or maybe more plus u have to cook your own food which could be an upside  unless they change it to two  shift   as far as hiking goes i dont know for sure 

if your gonna live at the bunkhouse and want to do some backcountry hiking. A car is pretty much required. There's buses that go from the motorpool at Gardiner into the park on a regular basis. But getting back could be the problem..they don't always run exactly to schedule, which if you made previous plans for a pick up you may end up waiting for possible several hours. The other option is hitching a ride. yep, hitchhiking is legal in the park and done pretty regularly.(carrying a sign that says park employee helps a lot for rides).

the bunk house is pretty ok. Yea you cook your own meals. There's usualy pans, etc in the room from previous people. Things seem a little more suttle there too. not as many screaming 18/20 year olds living away from home for the first time.  Your still on park property, so the rangers still rule.

There's some great trails around Gardiner, and my favorites are in the north part of the park.. Lamar/speciman ridge areas are awesome.

The server assist. job has a lot of turnover early in the year. but if you hang in, there's a good chance of serving later in the season.. more $$!!

Have fun, enjoy your summer. I'm missing ystone . I'll be back!! eventually.......

Having worked Xanterra for the last year and a half, have no misconceptions about being a server assistant.  It's WORK.  Physical, physical work.  You spend the day caring big trays of dirty dishes, and are always moving.  OK, not the day, but during the meal period itself.  The rest is vacuuming, clean-up, that kind of thing.  It's not mentally tough, at least once you get the routine down, but that's from a guy who loves the pace of a busy dining room.

All the server assistants I know had plenty of ability to plan hikes and such.  Most places will give you a schedule a week ahead of time, and if you want a specific day, management can usually make that your day off, or there are plenty of other staff to trade shifts with.

The money is far and away better...........  half again to double what you'd make in laundry, after you add in the tips.


I worked at YNP two summers ago at the Lake Hotel. I personally think you would experience backcountry more at a location outside of Gardiner since it is an entrance location, it is not deep into the park. I did a lot of hiking and backpacking in the park around the lake area, as well as canyon area and in the south part of the park/into the Tetons. I didn't go out there with a car but had no problem finding someone with one who was willing to go camping or hiking etc. 

Also, I never worked as a server assistant but I think you would make better money as one, you will get tipped out by a server etc. As for a server asst. schedule you could be up early for breakfast/lunch shift or you could end up working a breakfast/dinner shift. Also when I was there they tried to get you two days off in a row, which gives you the opportunity to get out in the backcountry. 

Thank you kindly for your replies! I eventually had to accept the laundry position. Therefore, no additional information on working as a server assistant is needed, but any comments on hiking around and from Gardiner as well as laundry work still will be appreciated.

your close to electric. i havent hiked it myself but have heard good about the area.

Like I said b4, the lamar area has miles and miles of trails and critters to watch.. The thing to do is, go to the back country office at Mammoth to get your back country permit (reqired anyways). Talk to the people there, the ranger assistants, etc. they are a lot of hiking fools ( i say that in a good way) and know a lot about the trails and areas in the northern part of the park. There's no one better to ask than them.. their job is to know the trails and they are more than happy to share the info on them with you..  have a beer at the goose for me....yep! I'm still missing yellowstone..maybe I'll vacation there this year..


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