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Bogus Basin – The Friendliest Ski Resort on the Planet
Story by Lynn Rosen, Photos by Larry Turner, Video provided by Bogus Basin

High on Adventure, March 2017

Bogus Basin skier   Bogus Basin day lodge   Bobus Basin lone tree
Bogus Basin lone skier
Bogus Basin Day Lodge
Lone tree

Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area, just 16 miles up the hill from Boise, Idaho, is the largest and most successful non-profit ski area in the country. How in the world does this work without a profit motive? With a lot of love, caring and a tremendous army of local volunteers who care about the treasure they have in their own backyard. Here’s the remarkable story of how this ski resort first evolved and now thrives.

Bogus Basin downhill skier   Bogus Basin day lodge deck   Bogus Baisn inside day lodge
Day lodge deck
Day lodge lunchroom

Bogus Basin today has all the obligatory amenities and trappings of a modern day, hip and savvy ski resort: 200-250 inches average snowfall; 5,800 feet base elevation; 7,590 feet top elevation; eight lifts, one tubing tow; vertical drop 1,800 feet; 78 designated runs; night skiing; on-hill lodging; food & beverage restaurants and bars; equipment/retail sales and rentals; and 2,600 skiable acres reaching 360 degrees around three mountain peaks. It’s high-end resort skiing at local prices. For $59, an adult can ski from 10 in the morning ‘til 10 at night. The 25,000 Bogus Basin season pass holders are the backbone of the organization. Cost of this season pass? An unbelievable $299. www.bogusbasin.org

The terrain has always been here, but the access and amenities weren’t always this easy and plush.


During the recovery from the Great Depression, the bleak, cold winters of the 1930s sparked a yearning in the 25,000 Boisians for some relief from this dark period.

It was about this time (1936) that Sun Valley Ski Resort launched with the world’s first chair lift. 128 miles to the East, Bosians got their first taste of Alpine skiing and also the brilliant idea that the mountains in their own back yard might yield not only fun but attract revenue.

  Bogus Basin lone tree  
Lone hardy tree on a Bogus Basin ridge

  Bogus Basin treed ski slope  

The site chosen for the ski area was originally made famous in the 1860s by swindlers who used it as a hide-out to make fake gold dust. So they called it Bogus Basin.

The original 20-member Boise Ski Club (still going strong today with many enthusiastically active members), together with the Junior Chamber of Commerce, the city, state and Federal agencies planned a new mountain recreational area built by and for the locals. Local volunteer crews cleared dozens of acres and the WPA built a dirt road with 172 hair pin turns to the prospective ski area. After many delays, on December 20, 1942, the year-round recreational area of Bogus Basin opened to the public. The muddy road was finally paved in 1962.

Ungroomed treed ski slope at Bogus Basin

  Bogus Basin Boise Ski Club volunteers   Bogus Basin Boise Ski Club volunteer  
Boise Ski Club mountain volunteers

The mountain has continued to operate with success thanks to a huge volume of volunteers. Their whole philosophy is one of engaging the community and providing accessible, affordable and year-round mountain recreation and education. They do this with that large number of remarkable volunteers who are enthusiastically helpful, optimistic and – above all – friendly.

Many of the staff members who work at Bogus Basin today are over- qualified and under-employed. For instance, our gracious ski instructor guide, Christian Leuning, was educated at Brown University and worked in Boston’s musical theater for a number of years. But he couldn’t be better suited for his current job teaching and guiding nor happier doing it.

There are many wonderful stories about the area, its history, and the individuals who still use the mountain.  Bob Greenwood, who opened Greenwoods Ski Haus back in the 1950’s, is almost 91 years old and still regularly skis.  He remains a devoted supporter of the mountain, as do many other locals.

  Bogus Basin skiers   Bogus Basin sit-skier  
Skiers going toward the chairlift


As a nonprofit, Bogus Basin donates tickets to youth serving nonprofit organizations in an effort to connect kids to the mountain. One of these organizations is Big Brothers/Big Sisters. A gentleman named Bruce told the story of how he began teaching his little brother, Michael, to snowboard and ski when he was 6. They spent more than 10 years together, much of it on the slopes of Bogus Basin. This opportunity was clearly transformative for Michael, who is now 19. This is just one of countless stories of how Bogus Basin has deeply impacted local lives.

Take a look at this historical video about Bogus Basin that celebrates its 75 years of local success. https://vimeo.com/189394528/c094e4bcc9


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