Winter Recreation

Your guide to downhill skiing/snowboarding in southern and central Idaho for 2017-18

Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area near Boise will have many new amenities this season, including a mountain coaster.
Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area near Boise will have many new amenities this season, including a mountain coaster. kgreen@idahostatesman.com

Sun Valley Resort opens on Thanksgiving. Bogus Basin, Brundage Mountain and Tamarack Resort hope to be open by the second weekend of December. Here are updates from the big four ski areas in our region, and info on many other ski areas you might visit this winter:

BOGUS BASIN MOUNTAIN RECREATION AREA

▪  The delayed mountain coaster should open before Christmas. Glade Runner will operate 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday until night skiing opens and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday-Sunday when night skiing begins. It will be open daily through the holiday season. The cost is $15 per ride, or $25 for two passengers.

▪  The beginner-skiing area has been reworked with a new children’s zone serviced by a magic carpet where the skier drop-off area once was and another new beginner area at the bottom of Bowl, where the summer tubing was. Those areas are in addition to the long-standing Coach chair.

▪  The 75th birthday celebration is Dec. 20. A DJ will play music in the base area from 1 to 4 p.m. The daylong celebration will include birthday cake, games and prizes.

▪  A fireworks show is scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 1.

▪  The 12,000-square-foot plaza featuring heated pavers is complete. The Double R Ranch BBQ and Smokehouse will provide a new outdoor food-and-beverage outlet on the patio, expected to open Dec. 20.

▪  The Simplot Lodge restrooms have been remodeled. A family-friendly and handicap-accessible restroom was added 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. 23-Jan. 5) and closes at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 24.

Pricing: Adult lift tickets are $62 all day, $52 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). Beginner-area passes are $15 (7-plus) and $10 pre-schoolers. The Powder Pack of four or six lift tickets costs $179/$229 through Nov. 30 and $199/$269 through Dec. 23.

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

Website: bogusbasin.org

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Brundage Mountain near McCall will be easier to reach this year with a new entrance road. Courtesy of Brundage Mountain

BRUNDAGE MOUNTAIN RESORT

▪  Construction on the road to Brundage has been completed. “The road is beautiful,” spokeswoman April Whitney said. “It’s wider and straighter with much better sight lines.”

▪  Over the past two summers, about 200 new parking spaces have been created in the lower parking lot. The change will make it easier for Brundage to organize parking and prevent congestion during holiday periods.

▪  A magic carpet will be added to the Easy Street beginner hill, in addition to the existing triple chair. The kids center also has been expanded to increase capacity for children’s skiing programs by 20 percent.

▪  The espresso bar has been relocated to the first level of the lodge, down from the third level.

▪  Brundage has launched an app for Apple and Android devices that will display weather information, snow measurements, webcams and grooming reports.

▪  Brundage offers a Bears Den Dinner After Dark program that includes a ride in a snowcat to the mid-mountain log cabin and a gourmet meal. The cost is $129 per person.

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 $67 for a full day and $53 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). Select Cards are available for two to five days of skiing at a discount but you can only use them for one person per day until March 11.

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

Website: brundage.com

SUN VALLEY RESORT

▪  The Sun Valley Inn will have about a quarter of its rooms renovated by mid-December. The rest of the project will be completed beginning late next summer. Bald Mountain Pizza has been replaced by Village Station, which will have rotating craft beers, wine, pizza, sandwiches, takeout and other options. The historic Ram restaurant also has been updated. “It’s bringing that building up to modern amenities,” Sun Valley spokeswoman Kelli Lusk said. “It’s such an iconic hotel.” Village Station opens Dec. 16, the same day as the Christmas tree lighting.

▪  Dollar Mountain, Sun Valley’s smaller ski hill, has been reshaped to create a more family-friendly environment. Seven terrain parks offer a range of options from beginner to advanced, including areas for terrain-based learning.

▪  Next year, Sun Valley plans to replace the two-seat Cold Springs chairlift on Bald Mountain with a high-speed quad that will open 380 acres of skiing. This season, the resort will take advanced skiers on tours into that area. The Cold Springs Canyon tour likely will start in January.

▪  The 2018 U.S. Alpine Championships will be in Sun Valley from March 19 to March 26, a repeat of the event the resort staged in 2016. This time, America’s top skiers will be coming off the Olympics. The marquee day likely will be March 23, when the speed skiers compete in the super G. The downhill is held at a separate venue.

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 nationals super-G courses in 2016.

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 online. On regular-season weekends, the advance price is $113 for adults, $82 for seniors and $63 for children. Prices can be higher or lower depending on the date.

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

Website: sunvalley.com

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Sun Valley Resort plans to open on Thanksgiving Day. Courtesy of Sun Valley

TAMARACK RESORT

▪  Tamarack has added the Hibernator Glade, an intermediate tree-skiing area with easy access from the Tamarack Express chair and to groomed runs. “If someone wants to go in there and they don’t like it, they’re in over their head, they can get right back to a groomed trail,” General Manager Brad Larsen said.

▪  Idaho Learn to Ski Day on Dec. 16 is a new promotion Tamarack is running to break down barriers for those who want to try skiing or snowboarding. People ages 13 and up who haven’t skied/snowboarded before will get a free ticket to the learning area, a one-hour lesson and rentals to try the sport. “It’s our hope to teach 400 people to ski, completely free,” Larsen said.

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. An Express Card offers a better deal on lift tickets. Purchase the card for $49 adults through Dec. 8 or $59 after that. That’s your lift ticket for the season and covers the cost of your first ski day. Each time you return, just go to the lift and your credit card will be charged a rate that is $10 less than the normal daily lift price.

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.

Website: tamarackidaho.com

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Tamarack Resort continues to add terrain options with the new Hibernator glade. Courtesy of Tamarack Resort

OTHER NOTABLE SKI AREAS

▪  Soldier Mountain (soldiermountain.com): 1,425 feet of vertical, 1,150 skiable acres, 35 trails and two chairlifts outside Fairfield. Regular hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday-Sunday and holidays. Open daily Dec. 21-Jan. 1, conditions permitting.

▪  Pomerelle (pomerelle.com): 1,000 feet of vertical, 24 trails and two chairlifts near Albion. Open seven days a week. Night skiing runs Tuesday-Saturday.

▪  Magic Mountain (magicmountainresort.com): 740 feet of vertical, 120 skiable acres, 11 trails and three lifts southeast of Twin Falls. Open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday-Sunday.

▪  Little Ski Hill (littleskihill.org): 405 feet of vertical, one T-bar lift near McCall.

▪  Rotarun (rotarunskiarea.org): 475 vertical feet, one Poma tow lift near Hailey. Open 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesdays, 5:30-9 p.m. Fridays, 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays in January and February.

▪  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 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Opened last week.

▪  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.

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