Though it seemed to come late in the season, huge drifts of powder blanketed the Gem State this winter and worshippers of the white spent copious amounts of their recreation time and money schussing down the hills. Warm weather and spring rains have sent melting snow cascading into rivers and reservoirs, but just because the ski season has ended, mountain lovers' relationships with their favorite resorts don't have to. Bogus Basin, Brundage Mountain and Tamarack Resort offer a slew of summer recreation choices for hikers, bikers, zipliners and everyone in between.
The nearly year-old Bogus Shafer Butte Trail System allows mountain bikers to coast from the top of Bogus Basin to the Foothills, and they should soon be able to pedal all the way to the new Idaho Velodrome and Cycling Park in Eagle. Rather than going out like a lamb, May departed in a roar of rain showers, but as soon as everything dries out a bit, the trails will be open and should remain so through October.
Folks on foot can also have fun on the mountain with some organized nature walks planned for spring and summer. On June 5, July 10 and August 2, take a one-hour hike with some of the forest's finest—rangers from the Boise National Forest. You can even bring your pooch, just make sure Fido is on a leash. Hikes start at 10 a.m.; the June hike meets at the Frontier Point Lodge, and the July and August hikes take off from the Shafer Butte picnic area. For more information, call 208-332-5190.
On June 28, shortly after the summer solstice, join other stargazers for Bogus' annual Star Party. After a sunset spaghetti dinner, volunteers from the Boise Astronomical Society will set up what Johnson described as "huge, huge, huge" telescopes and offer guided "tours" through constellations, solar systems and nebulae, providing information and folklore about the stars. Some of the telescopes even have sun filters so the earthbound can watch sun flares shooting off Sol.
Bring your own telescope and if you need help, the BAS volunteers will gladly help you set it up and learn how to use it. Johnson said it's important to remember that the party takes place in an alpine environment, so it gets cold. It will also be very, very dark. "No ambient light will be allowed," she said. They're going so far as to manage parking facing away from the gathering site so that when party-goers arrive and leave, "people aren't suddenly blinded."
On July 12, the whole family can enjoy geocaching. Though you won't need one to scope out the barbecue lunch, bring your GPS system to find hidden Bogus treasure. Knowledgeable people will be on hand to help you figure out the intricacies of your GPS if you don't already know how to use it. Jennifer Johnson, marketing director at Bogus Basin, said events like these are important not to get people up on the mountain during the summer, but so they learn "they don't need a chairlift, and they don't need a four-wheeler to have fun."
Bogus also offers a disc golf course—sponsored by the Gem State Disc Golf Association—open mid-May through mid-October—as long as the trails are dry. Johnson said people are often surprised at how much farther and faster a disc can fly at 4,000 feet and that the Bogus course is "one of the hardest in the state." The course is open sunrise to sunset, but Bogus facilities are not open to the public, so make sure you pack-in/pack-out whatever you may need for a raucous day of disc throwing. More information is available at gemstatediscgolf.org.
Last year, Bogus kicked off the opening of the Shafer Butte trail system with Trailpalooza. It was such a successful event—nearly 4,000 people attended—that the resort may try to make it an annual event. This year, Trailpalooza takes off on Aug. 9 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Simplot Lodge with plenty of food and live music. Though you'll have to hoof it back down, one or two chairlifts run throughout the day to take adventurers to the top of the hill.
Johnson said proceeds from all of the Bogus events go to help maintain the mountain's trail systems.
While high gas prices may have you staying a little closer to home this summer, a trip to McCall's Brundage Mountain Resort will be well worth the pain at the pump. Brundage beckons bikers with a bang on July 4 when the chairlifts open for weekend summer fun. Take the lift up over 7,000 feet and then bike your way back down on the Elk Trail. More serious riders can plan for the 17th annual Brundage Bike Fest held July 11-13. For more information including lift ticket prices, visit brundage.com.
Mountain biking is de rigeur if you plan to see much of your bike-riding friends and family this summer. You can ride miles of trail through scenic meadows, or challenge yourself by rolling through drops that will test your pedal mettle. The chairlift is scheduled to be open Wednesday through Sunday from mid-June through mid-September.
If mountain biking is not your idea of a fun way to spend a day, but you'd still like to know what all the Tamarack fuss is about, the Zipline tours are a perfect way to take in the beauty surrounding the resort and get your adrenaline pumping at the same time. Strapped to a cable almost 200 feet above the ground, you'll glide past more than 4,000 feet of forest, canyons and creeks in the company of a guide who will clue you in on the flora and fauna you'll see along the way.
Eight different ziplines are all part of the package, and BW's own publisher took her young children last year and said the adventure was a hoot for them all. For more information, including tour prices and requirements, visit tamarackidaho. com.