Highway towns hope reopening will jumpstart business

Posted at 11:29 AM, May 12, 2020

At the junction of US 285 and US 50--halfway between Denver and Durango in Colorado--sits the Crossroads of the Rockies: Poncha Springs. It's a small highway town with about 700 residents.

"You’ve got the river going along a lot of the way, where people can stop off, relax, enjoy and see the water, for fishing. You can see white water rafting happening," said Teresa Dunlap, who has owned the Poncha Lodge for the past eight years.

This time of the year, business is usually starting back up, but she says the phone hasn't been ringing as much as it usually would be. Reservations aren't being made.

"The beginning of April, things were starting to happen, to slow down," said Dunlap. "I think it was the second week when Chaffee County shut down all the hotels. It was kind of a strange, eerie feeling."

She has just one employee that helps at the lodge during the summer, but she’s had to lay off employees at the two restaurants she has on property, the Hunger Trailer and the Hunger Shack.

"We’ll be glad to, when things start getting busy again, either bring back some employees or rehire some employees or hire some new employees," said Dunlap

Both restaurants have remained open, because they have a walk-up window. While May isn’t typically busy, things ramp up Memorial Day weekend. But Dunlap doesn’t know if that’s going to be the case in just a few weeks.

"I’m not sure what to expect for the summer, as far as business. We are not opening up the county hotels until June 1. There’s no way of knowing exactly if there will be a trickle of people that come in or if we will be overwhelmed with people. It’s hard to say," said Dunlap. "I want to look forward, I don’t want to look back. We can’t recoup the business that we’ve lost, and so, I don’t want to dwell on that. I want to keep a positive attitude and keep looking forward."