Nevada Park Ranger Training and Degree Requirements

State park rangers in Nevada work for the Parks Division of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. In addition to one national park, there are 24 state parks in Nevada that require hundreds of full-time, part-time and seasonal rangers.

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Great Basin is Nevada’s only national park; however, there are dozens of state parks and recreation areas staffed by state park rangers, all of which see some 3.3 million visitors a year. Some of the most popular Nevada State Parks are:

  • Lake Tahoe – The northeast shores of the 21-mile-long lake contain six management units (sub-parks) totaling 14,301 acres
  •  Valley of Fire – located 55 miles from Las Vegas
  • Mormon Station State Historic Park – in the town of Genoa
  • Dayton State Park – Dayton NV
  • Cathedral Gorge – located in central eastern Nevada

Requirements to Become a Park Ranger in Nevada

Meeting the Requirements – The following requirements must be met in order to become a full-time park ranger at Nevada state parks:

  • Four-year college degree in a natural resource or recreation-related field
  • Good physical condition
  • Knowledge of Nevada flora and fauna
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • No criminal record
  • Valid Nevada driver’s license
  • Able to pass a thorough background investigation
  • Pass test for POST certification (Standard Peace Officer Test)

Seasonal Employment Requirements – Nevada state parks employ many seasonal workers. Requirements that must be met for the job of Seasonal Park Ranger Technician I are:

  • High school diploma or its equivalent
  • One year experience in a park, zoo, museum or interpretive visitor center OR
  • Acceptable combination of education and experience
  • Good physical condition
  • Able to pass background investigation
  • Excellent consumer service skills

A job as a seasonal park ranger is a wonderful stepping-stone for college students who hope for a future full-time park ranger career either at the state or federal level. Nevada is home to four public four-year colleges/universities, two public two-year colleges, four private four-year postsecondary schools, five four-year for-profit schools and two for-profit two-year colleges. A bachelor or master’s degree in an appropriate field is the ticket to getting a good job and rising to a supervisory level.

Duties and Responsibilities of a Park Ranger in Nevada

Duties and responsibilities of full-time park rangers in Nevada include:

  • Enforcement of state and park laws/regulations
  • Development, coordination and presentation of interpretive programs
  • Natural resource management
  • Emergency medical service
  • Preparation of reports
  • Collection and interpretation of park statistics
  • Assistance to park visitors
  • Coordination of park maintenance
  • Coordination of seasonal employee training programs
  • Supervision of seasonal rangers and volunteers

Duties and responsibilities of seasonal park rangers include:

  • Maintenance of  park grounds/facilities
  • Custodial duties
  • Grounds inspection
  • Collection of park fees
  • Presentation of educational programs
  • Operation of visitor center
  • Dissemination of information regarding park rules
  • Park patrols to spot and report violations
  • Emergency medical assistance
  • Help train volunteers
  • Assist visitors as needed

Seasonal rangers might be assigned to work full-time in the entry booth collecting fees/distributing park maps OR assisting with the aquatic invasive species program. Seasonal rangers work for various periods of time like three months over the summer; however, they never work more than nine months of the year.

How to Apply for a Park Ranger Job in Nevada

Open jobs with the Nevada Department of Natural Resources are posted by the Division of Human Resources Management (DHR). Applications for full-time park ranger positions are only accepted for open positions. However, applications for seasonal park rangers are accepted year round and applicants are called when there are vacancies.

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A list of available jobs, job descriptions, details about the application process and online applications are found at the DHR website. Hardcopies can be obtained by calling the employment office at 775-684-0150.

Persons whose applications are accepted will be called for a personal interview, written examination, physical examination, psychological evaluation and background investigation.

Park rangers in Nevada earn an average annual salary of approximately $25,000 and park ranger supervisors earn $59,000. Seasonal park rangers earn $13.36 an hour.

Nevada Park Ranger Salaries

The average starting park ranger salary in Nevada is $42,574.32, which is representative of the three rank levels among park rangers in Nevada. Nevada State Parks is a division within the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and is the entity which employs park rangers. Some of the most well-known parks in the state include Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, and Valley of Fire State Park, which is the oldest and largest park in the state.

There are three levels of rank among park rangers in Nevada, and this is their salary structure by rank:

Park Ranger 1 – Commissioned

  • Annual Salary: $38,523.60

Park Ranger 2 – Commissioned

  • Annual Salary: $43,639.20

Park Ranger 3 – Commissioned

  • Annual Salary: $45,560.16

Park Interpreter

  • Annual Salary: $45,560.16

There are also are managerial jobs within the parks system:

Park Supervisor 1 – Commissioned

  • Annual Salary: $45,560.16

Park Supervisor 2 – Commissioned

  • Annual Salary: $47,606.40

Park Supervisor 3 – Commissioned

  • Annual Salary: $49,694.40

Further salary data provided by the U.S. Department of Labor is seen here. These are entry-level salary figures pertaining to the many roles of park rangers:

Recreation Workers Salaries in Nevada

Area name
Annual mean wage
Las Vegas-Paradise NV
Reno-Sparks NV
Western Central Nevada nonmetropolitan area
Other Nevada nonmetropolitan area

Tour Guides and Escorts Salaries in Nevada

Area name
Annual mean wage
Las Vegas-Paradise NV

Recreational Protective Service Workers Salaries in Nevada

Area name
Annual mean wage
Las Vegas-Paradise NV
Reno-Sparks NV
Western Central Nevada nonmetropolitan area
Other Nevada nonmetropolitan area

Cave Lake State Park

Cave Lake State Park is located at an elevation of 7,000 feet roughly 8 miles south of Ely, Nevada. The popular 4,500-acre park contains a 32-acre reservoir of sparkling blue water adjacent to Humboldt National Forest. All Nevada state parks are under the jurisdiction of the state Department of Conservation’s Division of State Parks.

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Every January Cave Lake State Park is the site of the White Pine Fire and Ice Show, which features ice and snow sculptures as well as fireworks. According to the American Business Association, Destination magazine listed this event as one of America’s “Top Ten Tourism Events.”  During the summer Cave Lake is the scene of more fireworks as well as canoe, kayak – and the hilarious – bathtub and rubber ducky races.

Facilities and Activities at Cave Lake State Park in Nevada

Cave Lake State Park is open year round. It has two campgrounds with showers and flush toilets as well as an RV dump station. Of special interest is the rental of a “yurt,” – a raised Mongolian-style round tent with a wood lattice frame and plywood floor. Sleeping in a yurt gives a whole new meaning to the camping experience! The Cave Lake facility also has developed trails, picnic areas and various park ranger programs.

Summer activities at Cave Lake Park include:

  • Swimming
  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Catching crawdads
  • Hiking
  • Bird watching (eagles, hawks, vultures, water fowl, songbirds)
  • Riding motorized recreational vehicles (on special trails)
  • Wildlife photography (elk, mule deer, bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, snakes)

Winter activities include:

  • Ice skating
  • Ice fishing
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Snowshoeing
  • Sledding
  • Snowmobiling (on special trails)

Cave Lake is a paradise for anglers. Fishing can be done from shore or a boat. Not only is the lake stocked with rainbow trout but it also contains a variety of other eatable fish such as German Brown Fish which are native to Cave Lake. Two spectacular German Brown Fish were caught by lucky anglers during the summer of 2013 – one weighed 14 pounds and the other weighed 15 pounds and was 30 inches long!

The park’s developed hiking trails include an easy three-mile round trip, two moderately strenuous five- and four-mile hikes and a strenuous 4.5-mile (one-way) jaunt. Winter and summer motorized recreational vehicles are restricted to special areas.

Job Duties and Responsibilities of Park Rangers at Cave Lake State Park

Law enforcement park rangers are responsible for

  • Protecting visitors
  • Protecting wildlife and natural resources
  • Enforcing state and park laws/regulations
  • Maintaining order
  • Patrolling trails
  • Ensuring that anglers have valid fishing licenses and trout stamps
  • Providing assistance in the event of an accident
  • Providing emergency medical attention
  • Assisting local police and firefighters when needed

The duties of interpretive park rangers include:

  • Assisting visitors/campers
  • Distributing maps/giving directions
  • Explaining park rules
  • Protecting natural resources
  • Participating in park operations
  • Assisting injured animals
  • Presenting/nature and other talks/programs
  • Patrolling the park
  • Giving CPR and other medical assistance

Great Basin National Park

The 77,180-acre Great Basin National Park is located 290 miles north of Las Vegas near the Utah border. Situated in the high desert at the base of 13,063-foot Wheeler Peak, the park is noted for the Lehman Caves and its groves of ancient bristlecone pine trees that grow on glacial moraines.

According to the National Parks Conservation Society, Glacier Basin Park is currently in need of expanding its staff of park rangers. Rangers at Great Basin National Park work in one of the following five areas:

  1. Park management
  2. Interpretation
  3. Resource and visitor protection
  4. Resource management
  5. Maintenance

The park hired a cultural resource manager in 2003 and, according to a report by the National Park Conservation Society, more rangers are needed to give interpretive talks/program and to patrol the backcountry. There is also a demand for rangers who are specialists in history, archaeology, ethnography, cultural landscapes and speleology. Plans are in the works to establish a comprehensive cave management program to protect and conserve the park’s 45 wild caves.

A Look at Great Basin National Park in Nevada

Established in 1986, Great Basin is one of our newest national parks; however, the bristlecone pines that cover much of its area are one of the world’s oldest tree species, some of them as old as Egyptian pyramids built 4,000 to 4,500 years ago. The park averages between 69,000 and 90,000 visitors a year, with the lowest attendance in the winter months. The park currently employs 60 park rangers, 30 year round and 30 on a seasonal basis. There is no entry fee.

Activities and attractions include:

  • Campsites, both developed and primitive sites in the back country
  • Lehman Caves
  • 12 hiking trails, from wheelchair-accessible nature walks to strenuous trails only for experienced hikers
  • Ranger guided interpretive hikes
  • Orientation tours of the park
  • Two visitor centers with ecological, natural and cultural exhibits as well as theaters for ranger interpretive talks
  • Fishing for trout in Baker Lake
  •  Archaeological site with rock art dating from the Paleo-Indian period
  • Lexington Arch – The six-story-high arch is one of the largest limestone arches in the western United States

Lehman Caves are the park’s most popular attraction.  Located at an elevation of 6,825 feet, the marble caves feature stalactites, stalagmites, helicites, flowstone, “popcorn” and 300 rare shield formations, including “parachute shields.” There are daily tours led by rangers who explain the history, ecology and geology of the caves. The 60-minute “Lodge Room” tour covers 0.4 miles while the 90-minute “Grand Palace” tour involves a 0.6-mile walk with narrow halls and stairs. There is also a short tour for persons in wheelchairs. The rangers who lead these tours are speleology experts.

Because of its elevation, low humidity, minimal light pollution and remote location 250 miles from the nearest large city, the Great Basin has one of the last dark skies in America. The night sky is showered with stars and it is possible to see the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy with the naked eye. Park rangers provide regular astronomy programs with a furnished telescope. There is also an annual astronomy festival held over a weekend in September.

Valley of Fire State Park

Valley of Fire, dedicated in 1935, is Nevada’s oldest and largest state park. Located 50 miles northeast of La Vegas, the name of the 42,000-acre park comes from its unique red sandstone formations. The park is also famous for its petrified wood and 3,000-year-old Indian petroglyphs.

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The unusual sandstone formations were formed from shifting sand dunes, erosion and earthquakes during the age of the dinosaurs, roughly 150 million years ago.  The area was later occupied by the Basket Maker people and Anasazi Pueblo Indians.  Valley of Fire is now under the jurisdiction of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Division of State Parks, which is responsible for hiring park rangers.

Park Ranger Job Duties at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada

The park sits at an elevation of 2,000 to 2,500 feet. The high desert climate is moderate in the winter, with high temperatures of 75 degrees Fahrenheit and hot in the summer (highs can reach 120 degrees) with cooler evenings. The cacti and other desert plants put on a spectacular show of colorful blooms during the spring. Animals who call the Valley of Fire home include lizards, snakes, kit foxes, coyotes, jackrabbits, skunks and squirrels. The “Nevada Scenic Byway” runs from one end of the park to the other. Facilities and popular activities include:

  • Full-service campsites (year round)
  • Shaded picnic/barbecue areas
  • Hiking trails
  • Visitor center with interpretive displays and trails maps
  • Nature studies/presentations
  • Abundant photography opportunities

Law enforcement park rangers are primarily responsible for protecting visitors and natural resources, maintaining order, enforcing state and park laws/regulations and assisting local firefighters and police when needed.

Duties of non-law enforcement (interpretive) park rangers include:

  • Perform visitor services
  • Protect natural resources
  • Participate in park operations/management
  • Assist injured animals
  • Give nature presentations/programs/campfire talks
  • Give guided tours
  • Patrol trails

Valley of Fire Goes to Hollywood

Valley of Fire State Park’s magnificent scenery has served as a backdrop for many movies and TV shows. Part of the movie set from the 1966 classic, “The Professionals,” starring Burt Lancaster and Lee Marvin, has been left at the park for visitors to enjoy. A list of a few of the dozens of movies at least partially filmed there includes:

  • Transformers (2007)
  • Casino (1995)
  • Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
  • Con Air (1997)
  • Total Recall (1990)
  • Star Trek: Generations (1994)

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