Affordable, accessible, year-round fun at Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area

Friday, March 1, 2019

The snow is dumping at Bogus Basin this month, and it’s all anyone can talk about. Boise Metro is a 75-year-old school ski town without the fur collars and valet parking, although the coffee houses compare with any Portland’ish experience. A great bonus for locals is the 3,000 ft height difference between the valley and Bogus Basin skiing 16 miles up the hill, which means very little driveway shoveling and rare “snow day” closures. Life goes on at work; but for chairlifts and turns, we head up the mountain. You would be challenged anywhere on the globe to find a more accessible mountain recreation experience located next to real jobs and real people in a vibrant city.

- Clark Krause, Boise Valley Economic Partnership Director & Bogus Basin Board Member

Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area nestled back in the foothills, is just a 30-minute drive, and 16.5 miles from downtown Boise. It is run by a non-profit; their motto is “Non Profit, All Good” and locals would certainly agree. The best part is Bogus doesn’t feel like or act like an expensive exclusive ski resort. In fact, people that work and play at Bogus Basin would probably use the words “inclusive ski resort” to describe it, a place which strives to give access to all. Prices are more affordable than most other ski areas, starting at $329 for an adult early season lift pass. Compare that to national and Pacific North West ski resorts that can average easily $750 a year and you can see why Boiseans are getting a good deal.

Bogus Basin’s mission is “to provide accessible, affordable and fun year-round mountain recreation and education.” As a result, there are a number of incentives and programs to provide reduced-cost or free access to the mountain. There are multiple community outreach programs and the non-profit’s hope is that “every child in the Treasure Valley can have the opportunity to come up to the mountain to experience skiing or snowboarding in the winter, or the beautiful trail system in the summer, at least once.”

With discounted passes available for new residents (within 100 miles of the mountain), college students, young adults, and 5th and 6th graders who live in Idaho, there are plenty of opportunities for residents who haven’t skied or snowboarded before.

This past year, Bogus Basin fund-raising allowed the area to add snow-making, and ensure an early December season opening with snow coverage on the most accessible slopes used for lessons, beginners & intermediate skiers and riders.

Bogus Basin is a mid-sized ski mountain, with 11 lifts, 3 of which are high-speed quads. There are 91 runs, and some great off-piste skiing for experts. There is a great balance of easy, medium and difficult terrain, meaning its fun to go up and visit with a group of mixed ability skiers and boarders. Families love Bogus; the Mouse House provides lessons for all ages from pre-schooler up, and there is a weekend daycare option. Lessons and daycare are also more affordable than surrounding resorts, meaning parents can comfortably enjoy some runs together while the kids are having fun. And with one of the most extensive night-skiing operations in the country, Bogus provides great opportunities to squeeze in some skiing or boarding even during the work week. You have the ability to work all day and leave the office at 3:30, have a great two hour sunset/night skiing session and be home by 6:30 for dinner with the kiddos. Try to do that in Denver or Salt Lake City… not possible!

The culture in Boise, however, means you’ll find plenty of working people taking a ‘snow’ day or half day and making the most of first tracks in the morning after a large powder dump while still being able to get back to their office for a lunchtime meeting. You can hardly sit on a lift on the weekend without chatting with a local about the weather forecast for the week and their plans to make the most of it. While cheeky ski days are usually squeezed out of vacation time, some companies even provide for it as part of their benefits. Aspen Capital Management, a financial investment firm, has a Powder Day policy, which has been in place since they first set up in Boise in 2002.

“We love the outdoors and Boise’s access to nature. It’s important to us that employees have the chance to enjoy what the surrounding area has to offer and including a powder day in our benefits is one easy way to achieve that.”

As part of the Boise National Forest, the bike trails around the mountain and down to the foothills and the valley have always been accessible from Bogus year-round. In 2018, Bogus invested over $4 million to develop summer recreation activities and encourage families to come up to Bogus Basin in the summer. Now it’s not just hardy bikers and hikers who head up. There are mountain bike trails, a skills park and bike rentals, so even those learning can give it a try. Bogus has also installed a tubing hill, climbing wall, bungee trampoline and a mineral panning activity, and their jewel is the Glade Runner Mountain Coaster, the only one in Idaho, which provides over 4,000 feet of high-speed fun. The Bogus Creek Plaza, at the base of the lifts and providing access to all the activities, has a patio with the Double R Ranch BBQ smokehouse, and most weekends there is live music in the plaza, so even if not all the group are keen to hike or bike, they can relax with burgers and beer.

Locals love their mountain; the fact it’s a non-profit means any money spent there is reinvested back into this year-round destination that provide incredibly valuable community programs. Bogus provided over $140,000 in donated tickets to local non-profits, schools and churches last year. Over 1600 middle and high schoolers participated in race events, using discounted passes, scholarships and free equipment rental. Bogus truly walks the talk of their mission to make the area accessible and affordable for locals, and Boiseans are reaping the rewards as a result.