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Calder Kraince: Chilling in Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park – Grant Village

 During the summer and fall of 2023, I completed an amazing co-op working as a Guest Services Associate at the Grant Village Lodge in Yellowstone National Park. Located amidst the pristine wilderness of the first national park in the US, the lodge provided not only a great experience of nature but also an interesting working environment. With responsibilities ranging from front desk operations and guest communications to coordinating with housekeeping and maintenance staff, being a GSA enabled me to strengthen my interpersonal skills, develop problem-solving techniques, and gain insights into the hospitality industry. Meanwhile, the surrounding natural beauty offered constant inspiration and reminded me of the importance of environmental sustainability. This immersive co-op experience was not just a seasonal job, it was a powerful learning experience and an opportunity to make friends with people from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Old Faithful Geyser Basin

 Old Faithful Geyser Basin is one of the best known landmarks within Yellowstone National Park. Although somewhat overrated as an attraction, it is an interesting geothermal feature that draws crowds, particularly in the warm months of summer and early fall. Tourists from around the globe come to witness Old Faithful’s regular eruptions, which occur approximately every 60-90 minutes. However, it’s not just the punctuality of Old Faithful that captures one’s attention while in the area. It’s also the many strange thermal features within the Old Faithful basin and the strong smell of sulphur eminating from every hole in the ground. As you walk along the boardwalks above the features your ears are bombarded with a hisses, roars, and splashes from other geysers and thermal features. Old Faithful is packed with tourists throughout the busy season until the begining of fall, when a noticeable calm descends upon the area. The tourist crowds thin, the animal life becomes more visible, and you can finally begin to drive without being stuck behind a line of cars moving at 15 mph. By mid September the weather had begun to turn and we even received a series of heavy snowfalls leaving snow on the ground and ice on the boardwalks. This was a stark reminded for us all why Grant Village closes in early October before the brutal Yellowstone winter sets in.

Grand Prismatic & Angel Falls

One of my favorite natural wonders at Yellowstone is the Grand Prismatic Spring, with all its colors radiating in a natural pool. During the summer months, the hot spring is encircled by layers of microbial mats, transitioning from red and orange to green and blue moving toward the water’s center. The colors are at their most vibrant under the noonday sun, when the contrast between the steam eminating from the spring, and the algal mats are most striking. Not far from this geothermal site is Angel Falls, a lesser-known but equally attractive feature of the park. Set in rocky terrain, its a bit of a hike to get there, but the falls offer a quieter experience in comparison to the bustling boardwalk of the Grand Prismatic. In addition, the hike takes you to an overlook of the Grand Prismatic which is in my opinion, more striking then being right there next to it because you can observe the full range of color. Together, the Grand Prismatic Spring and Angel Falls showcase some of the natural diversity of Yellowstone, which is often described as a special place where fire and water coexist.

Grand Tetons Trip

A co-op based in Yellowstone National Park would not have been complete without a trip to the nearby Grand Teton Mountains. Just a couple of hours’ drive from Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons offer an entirely different landscape as well as their own set of challenges. In my opinion the Tetons have a much more rugged, less traveled, and less regulated feel. With the friends I made on the job in Yellowstone, I took several trips to the tetons to boulder, enjoy the natural hot springs, and cliff jump. The Tetons offer several months of fine weather in the summer making it near-perfect for hiking. Their rugged peaks also provide a great place to capture photographs of iconic Rocky Mountain imagery. 


Cody, Wyoming Trip

Living in Yellowstone National Park offers a wonderful opportunity to commune with nature; however, its remoteness can sometimes create a longing for civilization. A weekend trip to Cody, Wyoming, served as a perfect non-wilderness getaway. Situated about a four-hour drive from Grant Village, Cody offers a journey not just in distance but also through time–back to a place where you can get a feeling for the Old West. Unfortunitaly, the weekend we visited was the week after the last cody rodeo occured. Nevertheless, we were able to visit the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, which is a must for those interested in the complex history of settler colonialism and the American “frontier.” The museum is named for Buffalo Bill Cody, the town’s founder and a legendary showman who greatly influenced ideas about the West through his Wild West Show. The museum offers insights into the era’s mythology but also tries to juxtapose these against the realities of the era at a time when Native American lands were stolen and their populations decimated. I focused on the natural history section and an exhibition on antique guns. Strolling through the historic downtown area, with its period architecture, we got a feeling for the place and an awarness of its complex history. We also took the opportunity to gain hands-on experience by visiting a local firing range to practice target shooting, a skill deeply ingrained in the culture of the West. A weekend in Cody served as a fun divsersion from Yellowstone’s wild expanse, although it is clearly set up primarily for tourists.



Jackson Hole, Wyoming Trip

One weekend my friends and I took advantage of our day off and headed to the fun but expensive town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Just a short ride from the rugged peaks of the Tetons, this town offers a blend of outdoor adventure and commercial appeal very much reminding me of Sedona, Arizona. Our first stop was the Jackson Hole Fish Hatchery, a fascinating facility that helps visitors understand the local aquatic ecosystem. Seeing the cutthroat trout up close and learning about the hatchery’s conservation efforts was both educational and fulfilling. Afterwards, we decided to indulge a bit and explore the resturants in the area. After spending $23 on a bowl of mac and cheese we wandered around town going into thrift stores and art gallerys. That night we slept crammed into the back of my friends subaru in a church parking lot under the streat lamps.



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