Skiers and snowboarders have another option for getting to Mt. Bachelor starting this week. Visit Central Oregon announced this week the advent of Navigate Oregon, a luxury shuttle-bus service that will take people from Sunriver to Mt. Bachelor, as well as from Bend to Mt. Bachelor.
The shuttle service will begin Saturday, March 20 and run every day during Oregon's spring break week, through Sunday, March 28. After that, the service will be available only Saturdays and Sundays from April 3 through Memorial Day for the Sunriver service, with the Bend route possibly extending longer, into the Labor Day weekend, according to Visit Central Oregon. As the service gets going, organizers will monitor the demand for the service and determine how long the program will run.
- Courtesy Visit Central Oregon
- The new shuttle service will offer routes from Bend and Sunriver to Mt. Bachelor, with the idea of easing the pain of some of the parking restrictions established this year due to COVID-19.
Visit Central Oregon was awarded $40,000 in matching funds through Travel Oregon's Destination Ready investment program to run the service as a pilot program. The Destination Ready program encourages applicants to apply for "shovel-ready" projects that help boost tourism.
Parking at Mt. Bachelor has been a sticking point for many locals and travelers alike this ski season, with the resort requiring all drivers to reserve a free parking pass to park at the mountain. With limited numbers of parking passes available, that has left some people—unaware of the parking restrictions—without a convenient way to access the mountain. Organizers hope the addition of another shuttle service will help ease that concern.
"As a pilot program, Navigate Oregon will serve dual purpose," reads a press release from Visit Central Oregon. "Industry partners will have a high-quality transportation resource to refer destination visitors who are not aware of required parking reservations at Mt. Bachelor, one of many new COVID measures to manage volume at the resort. Additionally the Destination Ready callout presented a timely opportunity to gain valuable insight from riders through surveying and other foundational data for the future of privately subsidized transportation programs in the region. Previously, Visit Central Oregon has received feedback from international and domestic ski group trip planners that Central Oregon has a difficult time competing with other destinations that offer convenient shuttle transportation."
Pickup and drop off locations in Sunriver include the Sunriver Homeowners Aquatic Recreation Center, aka SHARC. In Bend, people can get on the shuttle at Riverhouse on the Deschutes or the Best Western Peppertree Inn. The service is $15 one way or $30 round trip. The buses include free wi-fi, on-board entertainment and a restroom on the bus. While each bus technically seats 56 people, max capacity will be capped at 35 passengers to allow for more distancing aboard the buses. Reservations are first-come, first-serve and are available at navigateoregon.com, and the buses will run in loops four times a day.