New shuttle takes skiers to Kirkwood for $5 |

New shuttle takes skiers to Kirkwood for $5

Teya Vitu

A $5 weekend shuttle for tourists started two weekends ago to take people staying at the Carson Valley Inn or at Carson City hotels and motels to Kirkwood Ski Resort.

The shuttle taps into a new ski market for Kirkwood and also works into the Carson City Convention and Visitors’ Bureau’s ambitions to market the capital city’s lodging properties as ski destinations.

“In the past, people have said you can’t market Carson City as a ski destination because it’s too far from the resorts,” said Candy Duncan, the Visitor Bureau’s executive director. “But Reno has been successful at it and they are just as far away.”

Kirkwood is located on California Route 88 about 58 miles from Carson City. This ski resort is on the west side of Carson Pass where the boundaries of Alpine, El Dorado and Amador counties meet.

“I think there’s a real untapped market down there,” said Karen Ryan, Kirkwood’s sales manager. “Carson City is not utilizing the ski market enough. But Carson City is now stepping up to the plate.”

The Visitors’ Bureau targeted this winter to launch efforts to attract the ski crowd to the state capital. Coincidentally, Kirkwood and the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Authority have spoken for a year to set up a shuttle service between between Minden and the ski resort.

“Kirkwood was more willing to negotiate with us (than other resorts,” said Dave Bolick, the chamber’s executive director. “This is a trial run this year. We will consider doing something with Heavenly next year.”

Ryan did not have ridership numbers available but she indicated the shuttle has not carried great numbers of people yet because the service has had little publicity so far. With the low fare of $5 for the round trip, Kirkwood is subsidizing about half the cost of the shuttle service provided by Desperado Tour Co. at Stateline, Ryan said.

The shuttle picks up skiers in Carson City during the 7 a.m. hour and making the last call at the Carson Valley Inn at 8:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays,heading into the mountains. The shuttle leaves Kirkwood at 4:30 p.m. to bring skiers back to the valley.

Shuttle rides are by advanced reservation only. Reservations must be made a day in advance by calling Desperado at (702) 586-9005.

Shuttle riders must be at least age 18 or accompanied by an adult. At this time, the service is geared more to visitors than people living here because of the Kirkwood subsidy, Ryan said.

Kirkwood and Carson City tourism experts have similar views on how a valley city somewhat distant from ski resorts can fit into the ski picture. “There’s a large market where half the family wants to ski and the other half go gambling or play golf,” Ryan said.

Duncan also sees promise in families combing tee times with ski times. The Kirkwood shuttle opens potential doors for Carson City to lodge more skiers, she said.

“What we were missing was transportation,” said Duncan.

She added that Desperado has mentioned the possibility of shuttle service from Carson City to Diamond Peak and North Star next winter if the Kirkwood shuttle proves successful.

“That’s the nice thing about Carson City, we’re as close to the North Shore as to the South Shore,” Duncan said.

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