The founders of Bogus Basin have long dreamed of making the mountain a year-round recreation area, with amenities like pools and golfing for the warmer months. 75 years later, their dream is finally beginning to come true. More than 3,000 people visited Bogus on July 1 to check out summer installations that include a climbing wall, mountain bike skills park, bungee trampoline, tubing slides and a gem-panning station.
"What we believe we are doing now is ensuring our future for the next 75 years," said Bogus Basin Director of Development Susan Saad.
Summer recreation at Bogus was previously limited to a network of trails for hikers, bikers and some horseback riding. The hope is for the newly unveiled summer activities to be additional revenue sources that will offset losses incurred in a bad snow year.
"Our vision for the future is really about taking 100 percent of the dependence off the winter and creating a more year-round recreation area," said Bogus Basin General Manager Brad Wilson.
Bogus has suffered four difficult seasons with little snowfall in recent years. The hill closed early in the 2014-15 season when it didn't snow between Christmas and March 15. The light snowfall, combined with stagnant season pass sales, created a bleak financial outlook for the nonprofit ski hill.
"Our prices had hovered at around that $199 season pass price for about 18 years. The number of people coming up skiing remained about the same, and our prices remained about the same, but the expense went up," said Saad. "We were really increasingly struggling to make ends meet."
The Bogus Basin board of directors came together in fall 2015 and decided to take action. Board members hired Wilson, raised pass prices and retained SE Consulting Group to conduct a feasibility study on different options to keep the mountain viable. The board adopted a 10-year master plan in July 2016 that included $20 million in investments on the mountain.
The first part of the plan is already in action with the new summer installations, but there is more to come with an aerial challenge course next summer, and the Alpine Mountain Coaster and a 12,000-square-foot winterized patio set to finish at the end of this one. Following construction, snow-makers will be installed on the front side of the mountain. Finally, Bogus will implement facility and amenity upgrades, including a new high-speed chairlift, beginner ski area and lodge renovations.
"We believe this plan will assure our future by adding new revenue in the summer, and the snow-making [will] ensure we can always open at the same time every year," said Saad. "The other upgrades will help to improve experience, especially as we try to attract new wintertime users to the area."
Not having snow for a winter break opening means losing between 25 to 30 percent of winter operating revenue, according to Saad.
Bogus has determined there is enough runoff to use for snow-making, but the process of collecting it for use is still in the works.
"To have snow-making so we can assure an opening by mid-December really helps stabilize the season," Saad said.
In the meantime, the addition of the summer activities is creating new revenue that will pay for future development—a trend that has been active around the country for the past 10-15 years, said Wilson, who helped install similar summer attractions in Lake Tahoe.
Unlike a lot of other ski hills, Bogus is not a resort, but a nonprofit ski recreation area—the largest of its kind.
"We don't have the deep resources some of the larger resorts have," said Saad.
Bogus Basin hopes to self-fund most improvements from increased revenue, but will look to the community for funding after that.
"I think it's always important to remind everyone that it is a nonprofit community treasure," said Saad. "We are working hard to put in these things to engage more of our growing population and assure the future of Bogus Basin."