Teton Village vacates after end of ski season

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JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) - Standing in the middle of Teton Village after the lifts stop running, it’s easy to think you’ve entered some kind of post-apocalyptic world.

There is no one in sight. The huge parking lot is almost empty. Where there were once long lift lines, only slushy, dirty snow remains. Lift line turnstiles are draped in plastic covers.

A trashcan holds three broken ski poles and one forlorn glove. Soap and paper towel dispensers in the public bathrooms are empty. Melting snow unearths a season’s worth of litter and cigarette butts. Tables and chairs are stacked on each other in Nick Wilson’s Cowboy Cafe.

“Closed” signs adorn the doors of just about every building in the village. Many send messages of gratitude to customers. “Thank you and we look forward to seeing you next season,” reads the sign on the door of Hotel Terra.

“Thank you for another great season,” says one at the Spur restaurant. “Thanks for an awesome season,” says one at Pepi’s. “See you on the hill.”

Residents of Teton Village get to watch the annual metamorphosis firsthand. It’s a welcome change for some.

“It changes really quickly, and it’s kind of refreshing,” said Les Gibson, a 10-year resident of the village. “This morning there was one truck and one trailer in the upper parking lot, and that is a pretty nice change. We’re used to the crowds and we know that it’s a large attraction and a party, and then when it’s finally over, it’s really great for it to go quiet.”

Ah, the quiet.

“The noise is probably the hardest thing to get used to” each November, Gibson said, “and now, it’s deafeningly quiet.”

Several stores use the weeks after resort closure to restock and rearrange inventory. Peering into Pepi’s or Jackson Hole Sports, you can see piles of merchandise strewn around the floor in a seemingly random fashion.

The main activity at the village is construction of a new residential and retail building just south of the Aerial Tram. While crews have been working on construction throughout the winter, work has kicked into high gear this month.

One of the very few businesses open is the Teton Village Market, and the construction is the only reason, general manager Kevin Anderson said. This is the first year the store has stayed open through the offseason.

“Because of the construction that’s going on, that’s keeping us alive,” Anderson said. “We just reduced hours to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. so these (construction workers) come here for their 10 o’clock break, their noon lunch and the beer on the way home.”

“I’ve got a sales number I try to hit every day,” Anderson said, “and if I hit that number, I stay open, and if I don’t hit that number, I close the doors.”

It’s not just businesses at the village that experience a drop-off after the mountain closes. Nearby, on Highway 390, the Q Roadhouse & Brewing Co. sees a dip in business too, said manager Park Dunn-Morrison. Despite the loss of business from skiers, the restaurant manages to stay afloat during these weeks, mostly because of local customers.

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