Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area is a ski area located in southwest Idaho in Boise County, 16 miles north-northeast of the city of Boise.
Bogus is operated by the Bogus Basin Recreation Association, a non-profit organization, on private and leased land in the Boise National Forest. Ski and snowboard season generally runs from Thanksgiving weekend until the weekend immediately preceding April 15, depending on snow conditions. There is also cross-country skiing on 23 miles (37 km) of Nordic trails.
The Name "Bogus Basin"
How Bogus Basin actually earned its name is a matter of debate. One version dates to the 1880s, when two prospectors loaded a shotgun with a few dollars' worth of gold dust and blasted it into the walls of a worthless cave near Shafer Butte. They galloped down to Boise where they slammed their "find" on a local bar and sold shares in the "mine" to gullible patrons. By the time the new owners realized that they had been fleeced, the swindlers had disappeared.
Another version is a two-paged story of a hard-to-find drainage and an 1863 mining claim. Captain Tom Morgan and a group of no-accounts, filed a claim in the area of the current base facilities, near Shafer Butte. Later they returned to Boise with the fruits of their labor, reportedly as much as $50,000 worth of gold. After a legendary spending spree, it was discovered to be Fool's Gold (iron pyrite) that had been chemically tuned up. The group was neither caught nor ever seen again.
Alf Engen, the father of the American powder technique, selected the site for the ski area at Bogus Basin in 1939. Bogus opened to the public in December 1942 with a 500 foot (150 m) rope tow.
The first chairlift was installed in 1961 at Deer Point. The resort currently operates 7 chairlifts and one Magic Carpet. Two of these chairlifts are high-speed quad (detachable chairlifts), installed in 1995 (#1 Deer Point) and 1999 (#6 Pine Creek).
Bogus Basin has 2600 acres (10.5 km²) of mixed runs, bowls, and glades, with 900 acres (3.6 km²) groomed. The lift-served vertical drop is 1790 feet (545 m) on the east-facing "back side," with a summit elevation of 7582 feet (2311 m) above sea level at the top of Shafer Butte, the highest point of the Boise Ridge mountains. This back side of Shafer Butte was opened in December 1975, following the installation of the #6 (Pine Creek) double chairlift (a quad since the summer of 1999).
On the front side, Bogus Basin's southern lift-served summit is at Deer Point, or more accurately at a slightly lower Doe Point at 7032 feet (2143 m), which overlooks Boise and the entire Treasure Valley, over 4000 vertical feet (1219 m) below. Bogus' base area and main day lodge (J. R. Simplot Lodge, formerly Bogus Creek) are at 6150 feet (1875 m), at the base of the north-facing slopes served by the #1 (Deer Point) quad chairlift, installed in 1995. The original double chairlift on #1 was installed in 1961 and upgraded in 1981. The #4 (Showcase - 1972) double chair, which replaced a surface poma lift, is east of (& parallel to) the #1 chair.
At mid-mountain, a second day lodge (Pioneer Lodge) sits at 6800 feet (2072 m) with a sizable parking lot, a cluster of condominiums, and the Jason Harper Training Center. From this Pioneer area, constructed in the early 1970s, there is direct access to the gentle south-facing slopes served by the #2 (Morning Star - early 1960s) chairlift and the north-facing slopes of the #5 (Bitterroot - 1973) double chair, which usually runs only on weekends and holidays. In addition, there is connecting trail access to the base of the #3 (Superior - 1965) double chairlift. With its 1500 foot (460 m) vertical rise, the Superior chair serves the advanced & expert terrain on the northern face of Shafer Butte, unloading at 7480 feet (2280 m). This fixed-grip chair is the leading candidate to be replaced by a high-speed detachable quad, as well as the #2 Morning Star.
Bogus Basin's average annual snowfall is about 250 inches (6.4 m). Due to limited water resources, there is no significant snow making, only small portable units for patching. Night skiing is available on 165 acres (0.7 km²), on runs served by five of the chairlifts (none on #5 or #6). Three terrain parks are also available; two of them are located on the Deer Point mountain, one for advanced, the other for beginner to intermediate skill level. The Sunshine Park is located on the Morning Star side of the mountain.
The main day lodge is named after J. R. Simplot because without him, there might not be a Bogus Basin. When the ski area was struggling to pay its debts in 1953, Simplot bought its ski lifts and other mountain improvements from the Kingcliffe Co. and sold them back to the Bogus Basin Recreational Association for $1. His intervention averted almost certain financial demise and won the everlasting gratitude of a generation of skiers. Simplot was also the driving force behind Brundage Mountain northwest of McCall, which opened in November 1961.
The GoldRush Tubing Hill opened in the fall of 2003, constructed for about $100,000. Annual revenues from the hill were expected to be four to five times that figure; revenues for its fourth season (2006-07) were just under $140,000.
Some summer activities are available at Bogus, including hiking, mountain biking (no lift service), and a disc golf course, which opened in July 2005.
Bogus Basin Road
Bogus is accessed by Bogus Basin Road (an extension of Harrison Boulevard), which twists 16 miles (26 km) from the Boise city limits to the resort, only 10 miles (16 km) NNE as the crow flies.
The two-lane road turns 172 times and gains 3400 feet (1036 m) in elevation as the terrain changes from dry sagebrush foothills to snow-laden mountain forest. Originally a gravel road constructed by CCC crews (funded by the WPA) from 1938-42, Bogus Basin Road was first paved in 1962 and improved in 1998.
In March 1998, Bogus' general manager Mike Shirley initiated a ski industry revolution, slashing the cost of an adult season pass from $500 to $199, lowering the break-even point to just seven visits (& kids' season passes fell to just $29). Bogus Basin sold nearly nine times as many passes for 1998-99 season versus the previous year, halting the pass sales at 25,000 (2,854 for the 1997-98 season).
The new pricing strategy generated almost four times as much revenue (nearly $3.6 million) from season pass sales, all before June, six months before the season would begin. Total skier visits went from under 192,000 to over 303,000 (up 58%). Although the sales of day-tickets ($31 each) expectedly fell (almost 50%), Bogus' total revenue increased by $2.6 million (up 55%) to $7.3 million for the 1998-99 ski season.
Shirley's deep-discount strategy made waves, & sent ski executives scrambling as resorts from coast-to-coast lowered their prices for multi-day, multi-area, and season passes. Locally, ski equipment sales increased significantly, as dormant skiers upgraded their gear.
United States Ski Team
Members of the U.S. Ski Team from Bogus Basin include:
- Jeret "Speedy" Peterson - freestyle aerials - 2005 World Cup champion
- Dane Spencer - giant slalom
- Erik Fisher - downhill