Ski trains started bringing skiers to North Creek’s Ski Bowl back in 1934 and continued into the early 1940s.
And after about a 70-year hiatus, trains from Saratoga and North Creek Railroad began the process again in 2011, shuttling skiers from Saratoga Springs to a much larger Gore Mountain ski resort.
Well, this year there’s a new twist.
Pullman Rail Journeys is offering skiing and snowboarding train enthusiasts an opportunity to not only ride a train to North Creek, but to stay in lodging cars on the train once they finish their day on the hill.
“We’re trying to create a really unique winter weekend getaway experience. There’s nowhere else in the United States where you can get on board a train, go to your destination and then have all the amenities taken care of and stay on the train,” said Justin Gonyo, general manager of Saratoga and North Creek Railroad.
For as little as $795 per person in a double room, guests can ride from New York City or anywhere along the way and spend two nights in North Creek, with two days of Gore lift passes, two dinners on the train and shuttles to and from the mountain.
Anna Gomez-Domenech, the railroad’s marketing coordinator, said a market study was done and showed the New York City millenials who don’t have cars are the likely consumers of the package.
And Gonyo said the idea was spawned in part by talk among North Creek area leaders and residents of a lack of lodging opportunities in that area.
Work is ongoing on the North Creek train depot, Gonyo said, to transform the former ticket booth in a “lodge-lobby” type area for travelers.
Johnsburg Town Supervisor Ron Vanselow also spoke about the lack of lodging opportunities in town and said he’s hopeful the train succeeds and gets people staying in town. He said recreational visitors now stay in places like Lake George, 30 minutes away, which is fine for county tourism, but not as good for his town.
“This kind of fills the gap in the wintertime. They don’t have to travel that extra half hour to get to Gore,” he said. “They’re not across the street, but pretty close.”
The train will run every weekend starting on Jan. 13 through March 26.
For more information check out www.travelpullman.com/ride/pullman-ski-train.
West Mt. opening postponed
West Mountain in Queensbury has moved its opening day back from Dec. 9 to Dec. 16, but mountain officials plan to throw a big party to kick off the season complete with fireworks while people ski, a bonfire and live music.
Recent natural snow has been washed away by rainy warm weather, but colder snowmaking air is expected to set it toward the end of the weekend, and West Mountain owner Spencer Montgomery said he’ll start snowguns again Saturday.
The party idea, he said, stemmed in part from having to postpone opening day, but also to welcome this season with a bang after a “downer” season last year.
“We’ll have fireworks at 8, while the mountain is still open. We thought that would be a really cool thing to do,” he said Tuesday.
“From a psychological aspect, I thought his might get the momentum going,” Montgomery added. “Something nice for the patrons, given the start date was pushed back a week.”
The event is free and open the public.