Wrangling the Rockies

Caroline TreadwillDo you love horses? Do you want to sharpen your people skills? Have you ever wanted to live in Colorado? Consider shaping up that dusty cowboy hat and becoming a wrangler for the summer! It’s a fast-paced hands-on opportunity that will surely spice up your resume. This last summer I worked as a wrangler in Estes Park, Colorado, and it was an experience not to be forgotten.

“What does it even mean to be a wrangler?” you may ask. Imagine leading a group of guests, on horseback through Rocky Mountain National Park. With groups consisting of typically two to eight people, your job is to educate the public on the wonders of the Rockies while providing an interactive equine experience. You will master your public speaking skills, become a whiz at the local flora and fauna, and learn first aid and CPR. Working outdoors all day long, you get to soak in the scenery as the Continental Divide is practically in your backyard.

While this experience may seem incredible, it is not one for the faint of heart. Workdays are long, typically lasting between twelve and thirteen hours with one day off a week. And while housing is provided, conditions consist of a “rustic cabin” that is akin to a shack in the woods. Wranglers must be accustomed to “roughing it” and sharing the kitchen with Cinderella’s closest friends (mice). If you are a hardy individual who can overcome such obstacles, the work can be highly lucrative. However, the majority of compensation is collected in tips as the salary breaks down to approximately $2/hr.  

The RockiesIf you can overlook the shortcomings, there is a lot that can be gained from being a wrangler. Workers gain an immense amount of hands-on horse experience as barn chores include haying and graining between fifty and seventy horses during peak season. Wranglers can also look forward to living in Estes Park, one of Colorado’s premier tourist destinations. With activities like hiking, kayaking, and exploring the Rocky Mountain National Park, there is never a dull day. 

Want more information? Below are a couple of links for the horseback company I worked for, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Estes Park. As I only have my own experience, I would recommend further research into other companies that operate in the area.



The author of this blog, Caroline Treadwell, is a senior at Iowa State University double majoring in Animal Science and Biology