Hosting at State parks

We have met a lot of folks who ask us about hosting, what is it, how does it work and where can I find jobs. I will primarily focus on hosting at state parks and other governmental agencies rather than the private sector.

We have been hosting off and on since our first hosting job in 2004 at Valley Of the Rogue State Park near Grants Pass Oregon. We did 6 weeks there, volunteering in their tent campground. Since then we have volunteered mostly in Oregon State Parks. Last year we volunteered in Idaho for the U.S. Forest Service, near Island Park.

We enjoy the visitor centers, Welcome centers, historic places, lighthouses and our current hosting, which we just completed, 

Whale watching! 

We volunteered at Depoe Bay Whale Watching Center, assisting our visitors in spotting whales

What is hosting? Hosting in State Parks, which we prefer, is volunteering a certain amount of your time in exchange for your rv spot and the amenities that go along with it. Most have electric, water and sewer, however there are hosting positions that do not have those amenities, so read the position descriptions of the positions carefully. The number of hours required can vary from 20 hours per week per person for a couple to 30 hours per week for a single (Oregon SP) but this can vary depending on the hosting positions. There are campground hosting, maintenance hosting, interpretive hosting, day use hosting and other positions that vary from state to state and federal and other governmental agencies. So be sure to read the position descriptions carefully to find the one that suits you. Most park and recreation agencies as well as states have some type of volunteer program. Most require a month as a minimum. We like to do a maximum of 2 months before moving on.

How do I find hosting jobs? First determine the area and type of hosting you would like to do, then go to that states web site ( Oregon State Parks) look for a link to their volunteer page. Go there and read about how to become a volunteer host and how to apply. Some, not all state web sites list positions available and when they are needed. Oregon does. For Federal and other agencies you can visit . Most Federal agencies post their hosting positions here, some states do as well.

Okay I found where I want to be, What now? Begin by filling out the application, if they have one. Most states require you to send that to their main office, where they will match you up with a hosting position. If there is a particular park you want to host at, give them a call and talk to the Host Coordinator for the park or the Park Superintendent or Manager, they can tell you what positions are open and when. Let them know you are interested and ask what you need to do to become a host at their park. (Some parks are very popular and will be hard to get started hosting.) I like contacting the park and if in the area visiting the park and do a face to face with the host coordinator or manager. By visiting the park you can see what it is all about, check out the host rv sites(are they big enough for your rig, cell phone and satellite reception etc), what is the weather like, is your hosting spot in main campground or another location. If you see a host, talk to them about the park and the particular hosting they are doing. Unable to visit first? Google the park, see reviews, use google earth to look at the park. (look at park brochure to see the host sites) Be sure when talking with park personnel, ask for details about the position. Hours, where is rv site located, days off, is there laundry available and anything that you are concerned about.

When is the best time to Apply? Early! I like to have my positions confirmed by October for the next season. Most parks like to get this done by then as well, then they do not have to worry about having the positions filled and can go about their other duties. Oh! Expect not to receive timely responses to your texts, or emails! Most host coordinators have other duties as well and sometimes your emails get lost in the shuffle. Keep your options open. The position you want may be filled, but another may be offered to you and may be a good opportunity to get started at that park. If nothing is available ask to be put on a list to be notified if a position opens. I got a call from an Idaho State Park about hosting for this season, but I had already committed. I asked can I be considered for next season? They agreed and I will follow up by visiting the park on my way back to Tucson. 

Misc!  We are asked why do you host?Where else can I go and stay in a beautiful area and not have to cough up big bucks to stay all summer, that only costs me a few hours of my time? My career was working in Illinois State Parks. First as a Superintendent of a complex and then as a Regional Manager. So it is in my “blood”! We enjoy helping the parks as many of them are not funded or staffed well and many programs would be put aside if they did not have volunteers to help. We also enjoy talking with folks! We meet many interesting people and sometimes we meet the grandchildren of folks we knew in our home town! (Just happened a few days ago) I have several links to web sites in the left column that you can follow for more info. 

Have questions? Email me at and we will be more than happy to try and answer your questions or ask in the comment section.

Today we are leaving to go to our next assignment at Honeyman State Park in Florence Oregon. So if in the area stop by and say hello!


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *