Major upgrades planned for Bogus Basin's summer & winter operations

The new base area plan for summer

The new base area plan for summer

EXCLUSIVE

Bogus Basin marks 75 years in operation in 2017 - and big changes are on the horizon. 

BoiseDev.com obtained the master plan for the resort via publicly available records. It outlines dozens of changes set for coming years - with many focused on improving summer visitation, and giving new skiers a better experience when snow covers the ground. The project went before the Boise County Planning & Zoning commission last fall unnoticed. P&Z granted the resort's conditional use permit request unanimously without any member of the public offering comment, according to meeting minutes. 

Nearly every facet of the resort is mentioned for improvements - from better food to improved terrain to upgraded lifts to scores of new summer features and more.

ALSO READ: see pics of new Sandbar upgrade  

The changes - especially in the summer - are aimed at helping Bogus have more longterm financial stability, according to Bogus Basin Director of Development Susan Saad.

“We still have several millions of dollars in debt, however with the combination of strong season pass sale and strong winter season we just had - our board was able to approve $4.3 million of funding toward these activities this summer," Saad said. "Our hope is that this will generate new revenue that will help us when winter isn’t as phenomenal as this year.”

The summer improvements are slated to happen this season -- with new attractions opening in stages this year.

The master plan follows outreach by the resort in recent years to understand industry trends and what visitors hope to see. The project was conducted by SE Group - and new general manager Brad Wilson has been key in moving the project forward, according to Saad.

BoiseDev newsletter subscribers got this story first - you can sign up for future alerts here.

The report is more than 100 pages. Here's the BoiseDev summary:

Summer

While the winter upgrades are significant,  summer additions are aimed at boosting the resort's nascent operation in the warm part of the year - which would give adventure seekers many new options.

"We’re pretty excited to be moving forward with these projects," Saad said. "We will begin working as soon as operations wind down this April and the snow melts. In fact, we may be moving snow out of the way."

  • A public hearing is slated for next week to grant a variance for a new ropes course.  The variance would allow Bogus to build the planned "aerial adventure course" which would operate on the lower slopes near the Deer Point and Showcase chairlifts. The course could travel up the hill in future phases. The ropes course is approved in principle by Boise County through the CUP process. 
  • A new canopy tour would be installed at the Pioneer base area and would zig-zag down to the base of the Bitterroot lift, and could expand to the Superior Express lift in the future.  The tour would be a series of zip lines and skybridges allowing visitors to experience sweeping views of the Treasure Valley.
  • An Alpine Coaster would be built on the lower slopes of the newly rerouted Morning Star lift near the Simplot Lodge. The coaster operates from three to twenty feet of the ground - and could be open during both the summer and winter months. It will open by August 1 according to Saad.
    • “Riding an alpine coaster involves traveling in a self-braking, two-person sled which travels on two tubular rails," the report notes. "This allows for a closed loop system so that participants begin and end their ride in the same location. The ride is exciting and varied, and may include curves, corkscrews, and downhill stretches. Centrifugal brakes control maximum speeds, and riders may control their speed at all times allowing for a unique hands-on experience for all ages”
    • I've ridden a mountain coaster in Park City. It's a blast - check out this video.
  • Summer tubing would use the same tubes used for the current Gold Rush snow tubing feature, but setting up a synthetic surface to allow for summer sliding. This is slated for July 1.
  • A new, larger amphitheater would be built below the current smaller ampitheater, allowing for larger events like concerts. A 200-seat facility is planned right in front of the Simplot lodge.
  • Upgrade mountain biking facilities and trails, including a bike skills and pump track area near the Simplot lodge with a focus on kids
  • A fun zone would be set up near the Simplot Lodge. The final configuration of attractions hasn't been determined, but could include climbing walls, water wars, panning for gold, a bungee trampoline and more.
    • "Activities that fit within the outdoor adventure and mining theme would be preferred," the report says.
  • Expanded summer programs including kids mountain day camps and mountain bike camps.
  • Improved landscaping and sod around the base area.
  • Disc golf would be moved to a different area to allow for the expanded amenities.

Winter

The winter plans will roll out over the next ten years.

"The other improvements are spaced out strategically over the course of the next several years," Saad said.

  • Reroute and upgrade the Morning Star lift: It currently can serve 900 skiers per hour. It's the primary way to get to several beginner runs as well as the main route between the upper and lower lodges which makes it a popular attraction. Upgrades would double capacity to 1,800 skiers and would move the bottom of the lift closer to the Simplot Lodge to make it easier to access from the base area. The lift will be upgraded to a high-speed quad according to Saad.
  • Snowmaking: Right now snowmaking is limited at Bogus.  The master plan would add much more manmade snow capacity to areas around the Coach, Deer Point and Morning Star lifts. “Snowmaking coverage has become a necessity," the report notes - and says it is found at 90% of resorts.  The project would happen in two phases - and at full buildout would give Bogus the ability to service 64 acres with man-made snow.
    • Future runs with top-to-bottom snowmaking: Upper Pioneer, Coach's Corner, Lower Ridge, Stewart's Bowl, Upper Ridge, Shaker Ridge, Lodge Cat Track, Morning Star, Silver Queen, Bogus Creek Trail, Showcase, Lulu, Sunshine and Pioneer Trail. Also, snowmaking would be added to the tubing hill (see below).
    • “This system will allow Bogus Basin to open the resort on those runs, and stay open for a guaranteed length of season," the report said.

    • The snowmaking system could also be used for fire suppression at Simplot Lodge and the communications facilities at Deer Point in the summer.  This capability was key in protecting facilities at Sun Valley from fires in recent years.

  • Coach lift upgrade and Coach's Corner changes: Currently only about 500 skiers can use this lift each hour. Upgrades would boost that to 1,200, and the lift would be shortened on the downslope side a bit to allow the base area to breathe. 
    • The area on the east side of the Coach lift could be regraded to add more beginner skiing terrain (Coach's Corner currently runs down the west side of the lift).
    • The existing magic carpets would be moved and a third carpet added to give more options to ski school students.
    • A portion of the area at the base would be regraded for better ski school use. 
  • Reconfigure runs: Make a series of changes to existing runs to improve skiing.
    • Silver Queen and Lulu would be regraded to allow for better novice skiing and use by the ski school.
    • Regrade the Lodge Cat Track. This is the only way down from some areas during night skiing - but it can be either steep or flat depending on the area. Regrading it will give it a consistent downhill slope. 
    • Make improvements off the Superior and Pine Creek runs
    • Add a connector ski route from Bitterroot to Superior. This could open Bitterroot area terrain when that lift isn't operating.
    • Undertake a large-scale brush clearing opeartion, especially focused on the backside. Some areas that used to be skiable are overgrown on all but the best (ahem, 2016-17) years.  
  • Revamp J. R. Simplot Lodge: The main lodge at the base area would get a revamp and slight expansion.  A new stair and elevator tower would be added on the west side (toward Bogus Basin Road). This will allow some of the other staircases to be removed, and free up space for a revamp of the rest of the lodge:
    • New patio off the main level facing the base area.
    • An expanded and upgraded kitchen which would allow for "higher quality food and beverage."
    • Expanded restrooms on the lower and main levels, as well as an added bathroom on the upper level.
    • Revamped seating including enclosing some of the "open to below" seating on the third level to add some space.
    • New retail/demo shop on the lower level.
  • Upgrades to the Pioneer Lodge: Though the changes aren't expected to be as large-scale as at the Simplot Lodge, this building will get added restrooms - and new interior and exterior finishes to make it more modern.  The bar and lounge area would be improved to make it a better special events venue.
  • Increase the density of lighting in some areas, especially around Deer Point. Bogus is also working on a continual project to improve lighting efficiency. 
  • Upgrade the Gold Rush tubing hill with snowmaking and a new carpet lift (replacing the handle tow). This will boost capacity here, and make sure the tubing hill can open even in poor snow years.
  • Replace the snack shack at Pine Creek with a warming yurt.
  • Parking: Parking is adequate according to the report - but some reconfiguration and improved shuttle service are in the plan. 
Main (middle) level of the expanded and revamped Pioneer Lodge

Main (middle) level of the expanded and revamped Pioneer Lodge