A big cat made Maverik one of the hottest wildlife watching spots in Jackson Hole.
A mountain lion hanging out across the street on High School Butte enthralled wildlife observers whether she was hiding in the trees or venturing lower to check out a carcass.
Perfectly positioned for safe human viewing, the gas station and convenience store at the corner of South Highway 89 and South Park Loop Road had to cope with a congested parking lot but has made the most of it.
“We’re handing out some coupons for people to get a free cookie with food out of the warmer, hot dogs,” store director Chris Harrison said Thursday.
On Thursday snow was falling hard and visibility was low for the people standing along South Park Loop Road with spotting scopes, binoculars and cameras trained on where the big cat was hanging around.
“I can’t believe they’re still standing out there,” Harrison said during a quick break from shoveling.
There were only a few customers in the store, but between weather and wildlife, some sales had increased.
“A lot of coffee and hot chocolate,” Harrison said.
Some wildlife watchers were parking across the street in the Movieworks lot and crossing the highway to join the crowd.
The Maverik parking lot looked near to full Thursday but didn’t have the hurly-burly atmosphere of the day before, when people were pulling in and jumping out of their cars to get a look at the mountain lion.
“They were blocking each other and blocking the pumps,” Harrison said of the Jan. 8 scene. “We had people at the pumps with scopes. Cars were parked four deep and blocking the entrance.
“We had the police department out here directing traffic.”
He wasn’t complaining.
“It was all right,” he said. “We got through it.”
And he had a chance get a look at the mountain lion. It wasn’t as large as some he’s seen but was still a wondrous sight.
“It was pretty awesome,” he said.