Home to perhaps the most famous wildlife park in the world, Wyoming also boasts over two dozen other state parks and historic sites which are often overlooked by tourists flocking to Yellowstone National Park. Park rangers working in Wyoming are in charge of making sure visitors to these natural areas are safe and following all the rules for the protection of themselves and the wildlife habitats found there. Employed by Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails, park rangers fulfill several important duties:
- Enforcement of park rules, regulations, as well as state laws and statutes
- Investigation of crimes and accidents that have occurred on territory managed by Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails
- Provide high-profile security patrols in parks, dams and power plants
- Provide public assistance and information
Candidates who would like to become a park ranger in Wyoming are advised to begin planning for this career path early, while also having a firm grasp of the minimum and preferred hiring standards.
Becoming a Park Ranger with Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails
Education and Experience – The most significant requirement for park ranger jobs in Wyoming is a bachelor’s degree. This should typically be in a field related to law enforcement, such as:
- Criminal Justice
- Law Enforcement
- Crime Scene Investigation
Applicants who do not have a bachelor’s degree can substitute for this by having three to five years of work experience in a field related to security with progressively increasing responsibility. In any case, all applicants should have up to two years of work experience in a security-related field.
- Strayer University - Bachelors of Science Degree in Criminal Justice
- Michigan State University - Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice
- Saint Joseph's University - Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice
- Penn Foster - Online Wildlife and Forestry Conservation Career Diploma
Having a qualifying degree also opens up doors for federal employment in Wyoming’s national parks.
Besides education, applicants will also need to meet a few other minimum park ranger requirements:
- Be a US citizen
- Be a high school graduate or equivalent
- Not have been convicted of a crime punishable by a jail or prison sentence
- Have a good moral character
- Possess a valid driver’s license
Applying to Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails – Applications can be made online through the park ranger job announcement. If there are current vacancies these will be posted on the Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails employment and volunteer opportunities webpage. If there are not any current vacancies, candidates can also request to be notified when park ranger jobs become available.
Applicants who are selected to continue with the hiring process will need to make themselves stand out during a personal interview, and have their good moral character confirmed in an in-depth background investigation.
Before beginning training, park rangers will also need to complete:
- Medical examination
- Psychological evaluations
- Physical fitness test:
- One minute of sit-ups
- One minute of push-ups
- 12-minute walk/run
- Obtain a 70% or better score on a test covering basic:
- Reading Comprehension
Wyoming Park Ranger Training – Certification as a law enforcement officer must be obtained within one year of employment, and candidates also have the option of attending the state’s law enforcement training academy without agency sponsorship prior to employment. Training at the academy takes place in Douglas.
In order to become a certified peace officer park rangers will receive 542 hours of instruction covering:
- Wyoming criminal law
- Patrol procedures
- Traffic control
- Enforcement procedures and techniques
- Firearms training
- Fitness, health, and safety
After they graduate and become certified peace officers, more specific park ranger training will commence that includes:
- Wilderness first aid and CPR
- Wildland rescue and survival
- High-angle technical rescue
- Water rescue
- Habitat restoration
- Animal rescue, capture, and release
Park Ranger Jobs in Wyoming with the National Parks Service
Federal park ranger jobs are also an option to consider in Wyoming. These are through the National Parks Service and are completely different than park ranger positions at the state-level. These rangers specialize and work in a variety of areas.
Federal park rangers play a similar role as their state colleagues, but are centered on managing federal territories such as:
- Yellowstone National Park
- Grand Teton National Park
- Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
- Devils Tower National Monument
- Fossil Butte National Monument
Applications for these positions can be made through the USA Jobs website, and the minimum qualifications for these include:
- Being a US citizen
- Having a valid driver’s license
- Having a bachelor degree in a field related to the park ranger’s specialization. This can be substituted for with either:
- A year of specialized work experience
- A combination of work experience and education
Federal park rangers who specialize in law enforcement may also need to obtain additional training before hire through a Seasonal Law Enforcement Training Program (SLETP).
The Law Enforcement Duties of Wyoming’s Park Rangers
Although park rangers in Wyoming are specially trained to handle wildlife and wilderness situations, their law enforcement training comes in handy all too often.
Grand Teton National Park rangers recently made a breakthrough in a two-year-old case involving the assault of a bar patron by a previously unidentified man, who threw a glass in the victim’s face. Park rangers investigating the case noticed the trademark mountain ranges on a suspect’s social media posting, which placed him near the scene of the crime around the time the crime took place. Rangers had information that the man would be working in the park that summer, and when they confirmed he had arrived placed him under arrest. Upon searching the man, park rangers also found he possessed illegal drugs.
The necessity of law enforcement training for park rangers was also recently demonstrated near Glendo Reservoir when a park ranger responded alongside a Platte County Sheriff Deputy to a report of a drunk driver. Once the suspect’s vehicle was pulled over he refused to exit and instead lead the deputy and park ranger on a chase. The suspect eventually ran into a house before being subdued, and the responding park ranger ended his shift in a hospital where he was treated for gunshot wounds, and was expected to make a full recovery.
Wyoming Park Ranger Salaries
There are a total of 7 national parks throughout Wyoming, but Yellowstone National Park is by far the most well known. Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites & Trails employs the state’s park rangers.
According to the State of Wyoming A&I Human Resources Division, the minimum annual park ranger salary in Wyoming is $46,332. There is a lot of potential for financial growth, however, as the maximum salary for park rangers is about 15% more at $54,504. The starting salary for a park ranger supervisor is $50,244 with a maximum allowable salary of $59,100. Of course, there are additional parks careers with Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites & Trails which park rangers might be interested in. Some of these include:
Assistant Park Superintendent
- Minimum: $46,332
- Maximum: $54,504
Park Superintendent I
- Minimum: $50,244
- Maximum: $59,100
Park Superintendent II
- Minimum: $54,828
- Maximum: $64,500
Parks Regional Manager/Parks Trails Manager
- Minimum: $66,132
- Maximum: $77,796
Parks Operations Manager
- Minimum: $74,124
- Maximum: $87,204
The tables below demonstrate additional salary information in regard to park rangers and the different professional roles they are often assigned:
Recreation Workers Salaries in Wyoming
Tour Guides and Escorts Salaries in Wyoming
Recreational Protective Service Workers Salaries in Wyoming
Grand Teton National Park
Park rangers working with the National Park Service (NPS) in Grand Teton National Park face many challenges. Not least among these is ensuring the park’s 2.6 million annual visitors have a safe and enlightening experience at the 310,000-acre park, which is part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. NPS park rangers at Grand Teton are also responsible for managing the John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway, which connects the national park to Yellowstone, as well as Jackson Hole National Monument.
On top of visitor and park facility management, rangers are also tasked with ensuring the human impact on the local ecosystems is minimized as much as possible. This involves taking surveys and being knowledgeable of a range of wildlife phenomena. Grand Teton park ranger duties include:
- Fire management
- Managing wolf re-introduction
- Search and rescue
- Campsite and facility management
- Water and air quality monitoring
Recent Park Ranger Operations at Grand Teton National Park
From law enforcement to wolf surveys, Grand Teton park rangers do it all. There are enough unique challenges at this location that every park ranger will be able to discover his or her natural strengths.
Recent ranger activities have included:
- Ranger-led hikes covering a few miles over a few hours. These hikes take place across the park, and rangers recount the park’s 11,000-year history of human habitation, folklore tales, and interesting scientific facts.
- Ranger map chat activities which take place over a raised topographical map, most recently in the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center. Rangers explain to curious onlookers details about the forces of nature that have shaped what is today Grand Teton National Park over millennia.
- Three back country skiers were recently rescued by park rangers. The incident happened after the trio became lost near Granite Canyon just as a major winter storm was moving through the area. After surviving the night in a self-made snow cave, the three skiers were rescued by four park rangers, and all involved were fortunate to have avoided any avalanches. Rangers warn that people venturing into back country areas may not be rescued because the dangers posed to the rescue parties is often too great, as was almost the instance in this case.
- Park rangers were recently dispatched to a location near the Jackson Lake Lodge after receiving reports of an assault. Rangers arrested one suspect and provided first aid to a victim, who was then transported by ambulance to a local hospital.
Hot Springs State Park
Last year nearly two million people came to soak themselves at Hot Springs State Park, an increase of over 50 percent from the previous year’s average. Although it offers no camping options and is relatively small when compared with other state parks at just over 1,000 acres, Hot Springs is by far the most popular place of its kind in Wyoming. Tourists from across the world stop in for a rejuvenating soak along their way from Yellowstone to Bighorn National Forest. Located along the Bighorn River in the city of Thermopolis, the park offers a free bath area, which is kept at 103 degrees and is open year round.
Employed by Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails, park rangers are responsible for maintaining operations and visitor safety at Hot Springs State Park. They also play a vital role in managing the state’s primary bison herd, which also calls the park its home.
Park Ranger Job Duties at Hot Springs State Park
Hot Springs State Park attracts not only tourists but also the elderly and sick, who come to rejuvenate themselves in the parks therapeutic waters. The park has taken special steps to accommodate these visitors, which include over six miles of wheelchair accessible trails with comfort stations along the way plus an accessible fishing pier. Park rangers go out of their way to ensure these guests feel at home and are safe.
Fishing, boat rentals, and picnic areas are also all included in the park, and rangers patrol these areas to ensure everyone is staying safe and abiding by park rules and regulations. Park rangers also pay particularly close attention to visitors when the bison heard is near. Often the temptation to feed these wild animals or to get too close for a picture is irresistible for certain tourists, who need an authority figure to remind them that these actions are dangerous both for humans and the bison. And every year rangers must deal with the occasional visitor who thinks it would be a good idea to pet the bison.
When they are not enjoying the park’s flower garden or naturally created calcium carbonate statue, rangers may also be requested to patrol the Legend Rock Petroglyph Site, about a 20-minute drive to the north of the park. This site contains hundreds of rock drawings made by people who inhabited the land before the founding of Thermopolis, and is both a state and national historic site. It is one of the best examples of its kind of rock art throughout the world.
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone hires 3,500 seasonal employees each summer to accommodate the nearly 3.5 million tourists that visit each year. About 800 of these temporary positions are filled with the National Park Service (NPS), the agency responsible for the protection of Yellowstone’s natural treasures and wildlife. This 3,468-square-mile park is famous for such iconic natural wonders as Old Faithful and is the site of what is believed to be the second largest volcanic eruption in Earth’s history.
Perhaps the most famous national park in the world, Yellowstone attracts people from around the globe who come to see its many unique features. Managing and providing interpretive programs around these unique features is a monumental task for the park’s dedicated rangers. From species introduction and protection to ecosystem management related to geysers, hot springs, and lake systems, park rangers at Yellowstone work to keep the park pristine and safe.
Working as a Ranger at Yellowstone National Park
Park rangers will work in an environment that includes tourists who have never been in the wilderness, and especially not in one that contains wolves, bears, buffalo, and boiling geysers. Visitors from all walks of life come to experience the natural wonders of Yellowstone, and every day park rangers offer their protective and educational services to facilitate this.
There is no typical day for a park ranger stationed in Yellowstone. One day may be spent explaining the park’s unique geology, while the next may require a search and rescue mission for an injured hiker. No matter their area of specialization, park rangers at Yellowstone should be ready for anything.
Some of their recent activity has included:
- Park rangers who were part of Yellowstone’s emergency rescue response team were alerted to the possibility of a downed aircraft within the park after a two-passenger light airplane failed to arrive at its destination. A search-and-rescue team was able to locate an emergency beacon at the site of the crash, where rangers also discovered the two passengers with minor injuries. Because of the quick rescue, the aviators were expected to make a full recovery and did not succumb to the elements.
- With millions of tourists every year and thousands of concession workers, Yellowstone has also developed a market for drug dealers. Law enforcement rangers recently arrested a significant supplier of these illegal substances who was dealing to both park employees and visitors.
- Yellowstone rangers were recently tasked with investigating a fatal grizzly bear attack, which they determined was in response to a hiker unwittingly straying into the territory of a mother bear’s cubs. Rangers concluded that because it was an act of defense and the bear was not a menace and would not be culled.