On a winter Saturday at Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area, the area in and around Simplot Lodge is jammed with kids.
If General Manager Brad Wilson’s vision is fulfilled, the youth of the Treasure Valley will flock to the mountain in summer, too.
Bogus Basin opens its summer season Saturday with an array of new family-friendly activities, including summer tubing, climbing wall, bungee trampoline, gem-panning station and bike skills park. More is on the way later this summer — capped by the highly anticipated mountain coaster.
“In the winter, we see a ton of kids, a ton of young families — and that’s really our demographic,” Wilson said. “That’s our target for summer and winter. We want to get young families up here. We want to introduce young kids to the alpine environment, educate them a little bit while they’re having fun about what makes this place so special, and hope to turn them into lifelong enthusiasts.”
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The ski area previously has been largely a place for mountain bikers to gather in the summer.
This year, Bogus Basin is investing $4.3 million in improvements — some, like the mountain coaster and heated patio, will pay dividends year-round. But many of the changes are designed to create a new summer revenue stream that will help offset bad snow years.
“This is a year in transition for us,” Wilson said. “We’re not going to have all our activities open on July 1. We’re going to be adding features as we go along this summer, so there’s not a huge expectation this summer for revenue. But it’s going to set us up perfectly for next summer.”
Here’s what to expect from Bogus Basin this summer:
Bogus has built two 300-foot tubing lanes at the bottom of Bowl out of an artificial sliding surface that features thick, orange bristles. The lanes are 42 inches wide with inflatable bumpers on both sides. Friends and families can race in the side-by-side lanes. Summer tubing uses the same tubes as the winter operation. A magic carpet takes tubers back to the top and will be used to create a new beginner area for winter operations. The tubing lanes will be removed for winter and rebuilt next spring.
The tubing lanes include two rollers to add excitement and create speeds topping 25 mph. A Minnesota ski area uses a similar surface for year-round skiing.
Riders must be at least 36 inches tall.
The bungee trampoline features four trampolines around a series of bungee cords that help accentuate your jumping ability. The best jumpers will get 21 feet in the air and do forward and backward flips.
“You can stay down low,” said Jamie Zolber, the director of skier services. “If you want to go 21 feet to the top of the poles, you have to work at it.”
Austin Smith, marketing/program coordinator for Bogus Basin, tested the apparatus last week. He was flipping and doing “Mission Impossible”-style maneuvers.
“It’s pretty fun — really exhausting,” he said. “And you can definitely get creative and do a lot of different stuff, from feeling like you’re free falling to landing on your back to multiple flips.”
The weight minimum is 40 pounds. The max is 200.
The climbing wall is 32 feet tall with four climbing routes. The two interior routes (green and gray holds) are easier and feature timers at the top to race a friend or challenge yourself. The two outer routes (blue and gray) are more difficult.
“The left one is substantially harder (than the interior routes),” Smith said. “The blues compared to the greens are a lot shallower and I actually feel it in my fingers — they’re kind of shaking from it. ... The racing is going to be cool. I think you’re going to see kids sprint to the top.”
The wall has a minimum weight of 40 pounds and maximum of 250. Smaller children also must fit in the harness.
Bike skills park
A bike skills park has been built behind the lower terminal of the Morning Star lift. It features three jump lines (easiest, more difficult and most difficult), a pump track designed to allow riders to move from line to line and two technical-riding lines with logs, rocks and other obstacles (easiest, most difficult).
“It has an endless number of lines,” Smith said of the park.
Other bike changes
A downhill-only flow trail has been built from Brewer’s Byway to Bogus Creek. The wide trail and sweeping turns make it accessible to low intermediates, while more experienced riders likely will zip down the mountain.
The Morning Star trail from Pioneer Lodge to Simplot Lodge has been re-routed because of the mountain coaster construction, creating a better trail with more banked turns, Wilson said. The beginning portion of Deer Point trail that feeds into Around the Mountain also has been re-routed to avoid the summer tubing lanes.
Guests can purchase a bag of dirt “enriched with real gemstones from around the world,” according to the attraction’s sign. They’ll pour the mixture into a screen-bottom box, dip the box in water and uncover the gems. The kid-friendly activity includes a map showing what countries have the gems they find and draws from Bogus Basin’s history as a place where fake gold was produced in the 1800s.
Two year-round upgrades are still under construction: the patio/lawn in front of Simplot Lodge and the mountain coaster.
The heated patio and one-acre lawn could be completed by the end of July, Wilson said. An outdoor food outlet will be added when the patio is completed. Music performances also will be moved to the patio/lawn area.
“It’ll be a really great place to come up and hang out when it’s hot down in the Valley,” Zolber said.
The mountain coaster, which will run during the ski season as well, likely won’t be finished until late August, Wilson said. The gravity-fed ride with a rider-controlled brake will provide a thrill ride for nearly all ages through the trees between Simplot and Pioneer lodges.
“That will be an enormous hit and will be super, super fun for everybody,” Wilson said.
Bogus Basin summer hours, prices
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Deer Point Express lift and base-area activities will be open July 1-9, Thursdays through Sundays through Labor Day (including the holiday), Aug. 21 for the solar eclipse and weekends-only after Labor Day as long as weather and interest allow.
Tickets: A $29 package includes one hour of tubing, 15 minutes on the bungee trampoline, 15 minutes on the climbing wall and one scenic ride on the Deer Point Express. Cost per item is $15 for tubing and $10 each for the bungee trampoline, climbing wall and gem panning (one bag of Shafer Butte Mining Co. pay dirt). Lift rides (with or without bike) are $15 for visitors 12 and older and $10 for children 11 and younger. Day lift tickets are $30 for 12 and older and $15 for 11 and younger. A summer chairlift pass for scenic rides or bike transport is $99 for all ages. Ticket prices haven’t been set yet for the mountain coaster, which is expected to open later this summer.
Ticket office: The rental shop will serve as the summer activities center. Purchase tickets there. The pay dirt, however, is sold at the retail shop in Simplot Lodge.
Bike rentals and shuttle: Bogus Basin will offer bike rentals. A shuttle will take cyclists with a day or season pass from Simplot Lodge to Pioneer Lodge roughly every half-hour. Bike rentals range from $19 to $74 depending on the size of the rider and number of hours. Helmets ($10), gloves ($5) and knee/elbow pads ($10) also are available to rent.
No ticket required: Bogus Basin has hiking and biking trails, including the popular Around the Mountain trail and a new downhill-biking flow trail, and a new bike skills park. Live music also will be offered on weekends. The Bogus Creek Grill, T Bar and retail shop inside Simplot Lodge also will be open.
More info: bogusbasin.org.