A look back in time at the making of Bogus Basin as it celebrates 75 years

Posted at 7:41 PM, Dec 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-20 08:23:07-05

It’s hard to think of a time when Boise and skiing didn’t go hand in hand. For generations, the North Star has lead Boisians up the winding road to hit the slopes at Bogus Basin.

The resort actually opened during the middle of World War II, but the idea for Bogus Basin came about years earlier.

“We were in the middle of the Great Depression. There was about 25,000 people that lived in Boise and some of the people in Boise saw Sun Valley opening, the little ski hill up in McCall, and they said well you know if we open a mountain to ski on we can boost our local economy,“ said Susan Saad with Bogus Basin.

Members of the Boise Ski Club, owners of ski shops, and a group of local influencers got together and decided to open Bogus Basin, a name that had been around since Idaho’s great gold rush.

“Bogus Basin got its name in the 1860's. There were some swindlers that had a hideout in this area and they were manufacturing fake gold and trying to sell it in the community and they were busted and the area was name Bogus Basin after that,” said Saad.

The idea for the mountain was to create a year round recreation area by the community for the community.

The first thing they did was build the road.

“Then they just got a lot of people in the community to help out by cutting trees down. They even got the military out at Gowen Field to give a hand,” said Eve Chandler, a history writer.

Finally, after years of back breaking work, they were ready to turn on the single rope tow, but then tragedy struck with the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“So many people went off to war that particular year so they waited and opened Bogus Basin on December 20th, 1942,” explained Chander,

Bogus quickly became a popular area for recreationists, but those that wanted to enjoy the splendor of the slopes had to make the taxing trek.

"Believe it or not the road was not paved until 1962,” said Saad. “In the early days the cars would go up one way in the morning and then the road would go back down in the afternoon.”

But on top of that, the road didn’t actually come all the way up to the resort so once the journey by car was complete another by foot began.

“Folks had to hike the last distance back up,” said Saad.

For decades, they did just that.

Now fast forward to this ski season.

“Bogus Basin has truly been woven into the fabric of this community for 75 years,” said Saad.

Bogus Basin employs 35 full time and nearly 600 seasonal workers and is the largest non-profit recreation area in the entire country.

On top of that, Bogus has fulfilled the original mission of bringing a boost to the local economy.

"Bogus Basin puts millions of dollars back into our community, bringing tourists, and bringing people who want to work here,” said Chandler,

As for the future of Bogus Basin, its slopes are evolving for summertime recreation.

“It truly has continued to grow and thrive and change with the community and you can see that continuing to happen as we look forward to the next 75 years,” said Saad.

The changes are something that all Treasure Valley residents can get behind.

“We are so lucky in the City of Boise to have this resource just 16 miles up the road,” said Chandler. "It’s just an incredible success story."

Click here to learn how you can donate to the Bogus Basin Project.