Outdoors Blog

Birthday celebrations, artificial snow, improved tree skiing highlight 2016-17 alpine season

Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area offers sweeping views of the Treasure Valley on clear days.
Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area offers sweeping views of the Treasure Valley on clear days. ccripe@idahostatesman.com

The snowguns are firing around the region as ski areas try to give Mother Nature a little help in getting this ski season started. Here are updates on what’s happening at each of the major destinations in our area — plus info on some other ski areas you might want to try this winter.


▪ Bogus begins a year-long celebration of its 75th anniversary with twilight fireworks and a torchlight parade Jan. 1. Other events include a summer celebration July 2 and a fund-raising event Sept. 16. The celebration culminates with the Bogus Basin birthday party Dec. 20, 2017.

▪ A limited-seating yurt has been installed at the base of the Pine Creek chair on the backside, creating a food-service area with items such as pulled-pork sliders, cheese trays, beer and wine.

▪ Hours have been extended to 10 p.m. every night. The ski area closed at 9 p.m. five days a week last year because of a string of down years financially. Also, the Showcase chair will run this season. It was closed last season.

▪ The retail shop has moved inside Simplot Lodge, on the main floor.

My favorite run: Wildcat features all of my favorite elements in a ski run — it’s one of the longer runs on the mountain, it turns and changes angles enough to keep the mind engaged, it’s steep enough to provide a challenge and the views are incredible on a clear day.

Mountain stats: 1,800 feet of vertical, seven chairlifts, 2,600 acres of skiing terrain (165 for night skiing). One-third of the 78 named runs are rated “most difficult.”

Hours: Opens at 9 a.m. weekends and holidays, 10 a.m. weekdays. Closes at 10 p.m. every night. Exceptions: Opens at 9 a.m. weekdays during Christmas break (Dec. 19-23 and Dec. 26-30) and closes at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 24.

Pricing: Adult lift tickets are $59 all day, $49 after 1 p.m. and $29 after 4 p.m. Discounts are offered for juniors (12-18), children (7-11), pre-schoolers (6 and under) and seniors (70-plus). The Powder Pack of five transferrable, all-day lift tickets is $239 from Nov. 25 to Dec. 23.

Getting there: Take Bogus Basin Road from Hill Road in Boise. The climb takes about 45 minutes, depending on road conditions.

Web: bogusbasin.org


▪ The resort has made a small foray into snow-making as “an insurance policy” to prevent isolated bare spots from causing problems with the skiing schedule. “People won’t so much be skiing on artificial snow at Brundage, but they may be loading the lift on artificial snow,” said April Whitney, the communication manager for Brundage. “The idea is that might allow us to get open earlier in December than sometimes is the case.”

▪ Backup power has been added for the lodge. Last year, trees fell into power lines several times under the weight of snow. The lifts had backup power but the lodge didn’t. “That really impacted our visitors’ experience leading up to Christmas,” Whitney said. Hazardous trees have been removed, too.

▪ Improvements to the road to Brundage weren’t completed this year. However, the notorious Icebox Corner was removed and replaced. The rest of the new road will be completed next summer.

My favorite run: On a clear day, 45th Parallel offers terrific views into the valley in addition to the twisty, sometimes-narrow route down the mountain. Plus, it’s away from the main chairlift, which reduces congestion.

Mountain stats: 1,921 feet of vertical, five chairlifts, 1,920 acres of skiing terrain. Thirty percent of the 46 named trails are rated “advanced.”

Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Pricing: Adult lift tickets are $64 for a full day and $50 after 12:30 p.m. Discounts are available for juniors (12-17), youth (7-11), seniors (70-plus) and military. Children 6 and under and all-ages passes for the Easy Street chair are free. Bear Chair tickets are $32 (12 and up) or $20 (7-11). Brundage has added a family fun pack — $199 for four, including rentals and Bear Chair lift tickets. Select Cards are available for two to five days of skiing but you can only use them for one person per day until March 12.

Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north from Boise and turn right on Brundage Mountain Road. It’s about 2 1/2 hours from downtown.

Web: brundage.com


▪ Sun Valley will celebrate its 80th birthday Dec. 21. “Sun Valley Serenade” will be shown for free at 2:30 p.m. at the Sun Valley Opera House and the Sun Valley Symphony School of Music will perform Glenn Miller’s songs from the movie at 4:30 p.m. at the River Run Lodge. The day ends with Dancing in the Duchin (Lounge) from 7 to 10 p.m.

▪ A healthy-forest initiative cleared 21 acres for gladed skiing during the offseason, increasing the total to 55.

▪ The resort is increasing the energy efficiency of the operation. It replaced 125 snowmaking guns this year with a model that provides twice the output and cuts the energy used by 90 percent. The resort has replaced 207 of 560 snowguns so far. Also, for the second straight year, two snow groomers were replaced with high-efficiency models.

▪ Dollar Mountain remains the home for Sun Valley’s robust terrain-park program, including the popular family cross course — a mild version of the skiercross/snowboardcross courses you see on TV.

My favorite run: Warm Springs is a long, wide, top-to-bottom run that allows you to cruise or fly down the mountain at your own pace. The upper portion played a role in the U.S. alpine nationals super-G courses last spring.

Mountain stats (Bald Mountain): 3,400 feet of vertical, 13 chairlifts, 2,000 acres of skiing terrain, 65 named trails.

Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Pricing: Prices are dynamic, and they’re lowest when tickets are purchased at least seven days in advance. On regular-season weekends, the advance price is $105 for adults, $82 for seniors and $58 for children.

Getting there: Take I-84 east, U.S. 20 east and Idaho 75 north to Ketchum. Turn left on 2nd Ave./Serenade to reach the River Run base area.

Web: sunvalley.com


▪ Crews spent time over the summer clearing brush to create better skiing opportunities on the mountain. The improvements focused on the Bentwoods, tree skiing between Adrenaline and Funnel; Reasons to Quit, tree skiing between Tango and the top of the Tamarack Express lift; and La Bamba Cliffs, an expert area within Wildwood that requires a hike to reach. “They were places on the mountain that could be improved fairly quickly and at a reasonable cost,” General Manager Brad Larsen said. “They were some areas that we wanted to ski better.”

▪ The Tamarack Municipal Association, a group of homeowners, has assumed control of the resort. That averted the potential for key assets to be lost in an auction because of back taxes owed by previous owners.

▪ The State of Idaho Pond Skimming Championship returns April 1. Tamarack also will have fireworks and a torchlight parade, an annual tradition, on New Year’s Eve.

My favorite run: If you want to find out what kind of shape your legs are in, hit Bliss and ride from near the summit to the base area. It’s a 2.5-mile run with 2,700 feet of vertical drop.

Mountain stats: 2,800 feet of vertical, four chairlifts, 1,000 acres of skiing terrain, 42 named runs.

Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Pricing: Adult lift tickets are $69 all day and $50 after 1 p.m. Discounts are available for juniors (7-11), teens (12-17), seniors (70-plus) and military. Children 6 and under are free. Passes for the Discovery area only are $25. For multiple ski days, consider an Express Card. For the cost of one day pass, you get the right to ski up to three more times at a $10 discount off the daily rate.

Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north to Donnelly, go left on Roseberry Road, turn left on West Mountain Road and follow signs to the resort.

Web: tamarackidaho.com


▪ Soldier Mountain (soldiermountain.com): 1,400 feet of vertical, 1,180 skiable acres, 36 trails and two chairlifts outside Fairfield.

▪ Pomerelle (pomerelle.com): 1,000 feet of vertical, 24 trails and two chairlifts near Albion. Seven-day operations begin in mid-December. Night skiing begins Dec. 27 and runs Tuesday-Saturday.

▪ Magic Mountain (magicmountainresort.com): 740 feet of vertical, 120 skiable acres, 11 trails and three lifts southeast of Twin Falls. Open weekends.

▪ Little Ski Hill (littleskihill.org): 405 feet of vertical, one T-bar lift near McCall. Regular-season hours are 3-8 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 3-9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

▪ Rotarun (rotarunskiarea.org): 475 vertical feet, one Poma tow lift near Hailey. Open 6-9 p.m. Fridays, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturdays, noon to 4 p.m. Sundays.

▪ Grand Targhee (grandtarghee.com): 2,270 feet of vertical, 2,602 skiable acres and four chairlifts near Driggs. Averages 500 inches of snow a year. Open daily.

▪ Anthony Lakes (anthonylakes.com): 900 feet of vertical, 1,100 skiable acres near Baker City, Ore. Open Thursday-Sunday, with half-price tickets on Thursdays.