Heavy early snow creates optimism for winter tourism
ISLAND PARK, Idaho (KIFI) - With already 32 inches of snow in the area, Island Park is gearing up for a busy winter tourism season. The heavy snow fall in the area has some saying the snowfall is nearing what the area saw in the beginning of the year.
"This time last year, I think we only had a skiff of snow on the ground. Nothing like what we're seeing right now. We have snow levels that I haven't seen in the last five years. I've been here for about five years and so it's pretty incredible," Sawtelle Mountain Resort general manager Richard Turpin said.
He adds the heavy snow has already generated high demand for snowmobile rentals a service the resort provides.
"We are seeing a lot of people bringing up their own sleds and a lot of demand, a lot of people calling in and wanting to get out on those rentals. It's super exciting. Like I said, it's just just a good sign. I think that that that we're in for a good winter."
Island Park Chamber of Commerce executive director Colleen Rinehart says that high demand is not just with the resort.
"Several of them (other businesses) are reporting that their December so far beats December last year and going past their goals."
The early snow has created a large sense of optimism for the winter season, especially after the tourism industry in the area was hit by many turning away from visiting Island Park.
"Between the iSland Park Chamber members, as well as the Yellowstone Teton Territories members. Very optimistic, overcoming what we may have lost because of the flooding in Yellowstone. Maybe not, but it won't be for lack of trying," Rinehart said.
"Hopefully it'll just to me it's a sign that maybe, we're looking at a good strong year here at the resort and up in Island Park period. Coming off the tail end of the flood last year, it really did hurt the economy up here. Could have been worse, of course, and we're grateful it wasn't. But that's behind us now. And we're just looking forward to great things."
Island Park is currently planning many events that will take place after the start of the new year. In the mean time the Snowmobile trails are groomed and ready for visitors to carve their path in the mountains. The Island Park Chamber of Commerce also maps of the trails that will allow visitors to preview the trails they may want to take.