The World is Riley’s Oyster

SCA Alum Riley Hays hiking in Denali National Park

What do Tinker Air Force Base, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, and Delaware State Parks have in common? Each place encouraged and empowered Riley Hays in discovering her passion to inspire people to love parks and the great outdoors, and started her own love of Visitor Interpretation at parks! Riley Hays is a three-time SCA alum serving with us in different internships between 2012-2014.

The world is Riley Hays’ oyster and if you ask us she’s already cracked it open to find the pearl – following her passions across the expanse of Denali National Park during the summer season and traveling the world in the winter months. We recently had the chance to interview Riley to learn more about her work at Denali National Park, her upcoming travels, and how she found herself in the role of professional nomad.

How did your SCA service inspire you to follow this path?

I served three internships between 2012-2014 in three very different locations: Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska, and Delaware State Parks in Delaware. I knew I wanted to work outdoors. My SCA internships let me try different things, fall in love with so many natural places, AND introduced me to park interpretation which is my favorite part of working at a National Park.

SCA Alum Riley Hays

That’s awesome. Did you have a favorite internship?
I really did love them all, but Wrangell-St. Elias brought me to Alaska. I fell in love with the 49th state and knew this was a place I wanted to be. Alaska is the definition of breathtaking and I want to take in every square mile of this state as I can – it’s endlessly exciting! There is so much to learn from, wonder about, and love here in Alaska. I met amazing people, too. I’m still really close friends with folks I met while I was there.

What is it like for you to work for the National Park Service?
I work at Denali National Park as a seasonal ranger in the summer months here in Alaska. It’s my favorite National Park site and I love that I get to show it off to new visitors. It’s the perfect park. You can visit one section and be around other visitors or go off the main road and experience the serene solitude of the park with no one around! Denali is one of the last untouched places – it’s amazing to call this beautiful place my “office”.

Every day is different and I get to help people visiting Denali experience the best of Alaska. I love sharing that with folks. And I’ve gotten to experience some pretty cool things in the off season.

SCA Alum and Seasonal Ranger at Denali National Park, Riley Hays

What’s the coolest thing you’ve done recently?
I volunteered for the Iditarod this past March – it was fantastic! I got to know a phenomenal group of folks volunteering, became familiar with the native Alaskans in the village of Shaktoolik, and got to meet almost every single musher who came through my checkpoint. I detailed my volunteer experience on my blog, Riley Roves. If you want to read more about Riley’s Iditarod experience check out her full blog here >>

You’ve been to all 50 states, 20 different countries, and 3 continents – where’s next?
I just bought a one way ticket to Copenhagen. I’m going to explore Denmarkand then make my way over to Scotland and hopefully hike the West Highland Way with another SCA Alum!


We’ll keep an eye on your blog to read all about your adventures, Riley. Thanks for all you do!

Are you an SCA Alum with your own story to share? Tell us! We love to hear from our alumni!