So, You Want to Work at Flat Creek?
It’s that time of year again—when thousands of tourists descend upon Jackson, ready to enjoy the nature, culture, food, and everything else the area has to offer. Who’s on hand to wash their laundry, give them directions, and otherwise make sure their stay in Jackson is a pleasant one? Every year, Flat Creek Inn brings in an eager group of hires (mostly college-age young adults) to handle all of our guests’ needs. We talked to Quinn Kunz, a former Flat Creek employee and eternal Flat Creek friend, to get to scoop on what it’s like to work here.
What does a day as a summer Flat Creek employee look like?
Being a summer employee in Jackson has some major perks. If I’m housekeeping, I usually wake up around 7:00 a.m., get ready, and I’m down in the lobby at 8:00 a.m. ready to work. We’re given a list of rooms to clean and we get at it. Housekeeping is nice because you can put earbuds in and go into a flow state. We usually finish up around 4 and once you clock out it’s about making the most out of the rest of the day. I like to go for a run or mountain bike ride as soon as I can. Usually, a group of employees will go swimming in one of the lakes in Grand Teton or something. For those working the night shift at the convenience store or front desk, the morning is when the recreation happens, and they’re at work around 2 and work till midnight.
What were your duties?
My duties were a mix of working housekeeping, convenience store, and front desk. I enjoy them all for different reasons. For instance, housekeeping is nice because you can sort of turn your mind off and listen to music or a podcast the whole day. The front desk and C-store are cool because you meet so many new people! For desk, duties entail checking people in, delivering any items the guests need, and booking people’s stays. The C-store isn’t glamorous—the job requires constant attention to cleaning machines, ringing people up, and organizing things—but it’s great though because you can meet all kinds of people from everywhere in the world.
Where do you live? What are the accommodations like?
Life at Flat Creek is cool because you live in an apartment on the second floor of the convenience store/lobby. When it’s time for work, you simply walk down a flight of stairs and begin your day. There’s an apartment for the guys and an apartment for the girls. Most summer employees are young college-age students who bring their friends to work with them, so the atmosphere is fun. The irony of the whole situation, though, is that if you’re spending time in the apartment, you’re doing the summer wrong. You’re living in Jackson Hole, and there are too many fun things to do here to be inside all the time. The employee housing works exactly as the guest housing does—it’s a comfortable means to enjoy the endless outdoor opportunities Jackson has to offer.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part of the job is definitely all of the people I interact with. Both the guests and my coworkers are so fun to get to know. I love meeting people from all walks of life, from different countries, and knowing the locals on a personal level. There are regulars who come in every day to fuel up on gas and our hot chocolate before work and we chat, getting to know each other a little more throughout the summer. I still talk to a few people I met at the gas station.
How do you like to spend your days off?
I definitely make the most of my days off; they’re not as relaxing as they probably should be because we go pretty hard. Flat Creek is in a pretty good location where you can get to trails around Jackson without driving, so sometimes I’ll take my bike and make a big loop around Cache Creek to Hoback. Or sometimes a group will go into the park and look for bears or swim in the lakes or go to hot springs. There’s honestly way too much to do in one summer, which is why I’m coming back this summer.
One of my favorite experiences was when my friends and I decided to go camping on a whim after work. We brought some blankets and pulled up to a road that usually has free spaces to camp but tonight it was all full. It was about midnight when we arrived at the perfect spot at the very end of the road. We thought it was very serendipitous that this random spot was free and had a fun campfire and watched stars. The night turned out to be much colder than we anticipated and two of the four of us found themselves sleeping upright in my 1998 Toyota Tacoma, and me and the other guy huddled by the ashes of the fire, covered in soot and dew. When the sun rose in the morning we were surprised to see a group of mildly amused hikers stepping around us to access the trailhead we were sleeping on. It definitely wasn’t a real camping spot and, while I don’t recommend sleeping anywhere that isn’t approved by the forest service, this memory will live on as a legendary (and sleepless) night.
Least favorite part of the job?
My least favorite part of the job is probably either cleaning bathrooms (it’s a tough gamble trying to estimate when people will walk in and want to pay for something while you’re the middle of cleaning) or when you occasionally must handle stressful situations at the front desk when there are five guests who need something and only one of you. All in all, it’s still worth it.
What advice do you have for anyone who wants to work there?
If somebody wanted advice about working at Flat Creek or anywhere in Jackson, I would tell them to do it and to take the advice that a previous employee gave me—that is, that the apartment is for sleeping and eating. The rest of your time after work should be spent in Jackson or the parks, packing in as much adventure as you can. If you do that, you’ll have a great summer.
Favorite national park? Bucket list?
My favorite national park is Grand Teton National Park. I think it’s really underrated in terms of the world-class trails and beauty it has. If we’re talking favorite park of all time, I think Denali was really cool, the wildlife is incredible and we managed to make it on a clear day to get a view of the mountain. My bucket list park is Gates of the Arctic. It looks really remote and rugged, which is appealing to me.