Local rental cars booked almost until end of year

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— Plenty of cars sit in the lot at Hertz Rent A Car near Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

There's just one problem -- not one is available, Hertz employee Judy Hockett said.

A similar situation exists at other local car rental agencies, but the shortage is nothing out of the ordinary, rental agents said.

"It is typical for this time of year," said Kay Wiltsong, an agency operator at Avis Rent A Car, where there are no vehicles available for Christmas week.

The heavy bookings have less to do with the recent snow than they do with the holiday tourist season, Wiltsong said.

"(Customers) shut us down before the snow came," she said. "It's the latecomers that typically will pay more or are not going to get a vehicle."

Some agencies reported a few vehicles available for rental next week. However, four-wheel drives are all but nonexistent on the rental market.

"I sold out of four-wheel drives three weeks ago," Steamboat Motors manager Tom Kleman said. His full-service car dealership also rents vehicles.

Economy Car Rental employee Joe Folds said he doesn't pity vacationers who wait until the last minute to make reservations.

"They've got to think ahead," Folds said. "Cars are pretty well booked up through the end of the year."

Hertz, like other agencies, attempts to secure additional vehicles by calling other Hertz locations, but availability is often limited elsewhere, too, Hockett said.

Colorado winters mean good business, Hockett said.

"As long as it keeps snowing, we'll be good," she said.

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