Melynda Harrison worked in partnership with Visit Idaho to create this Travel Tip.

We’re driving up the steep, winding road between Boise and Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area. The hillside drops away on both sides of the road at one point, and before we know it, we are above the clouds. On our first trip to Bogus Basin, we are already enamored with the journey.

My family – me, husband, and 10- and 11-year-old boys—look back toward Boise, get a break in the clouds, and take in the city view. I think, “even if Bogus is a bust, the drive alone is worth the effort.”

The views are worth the drive. Photo Credit: Melynda Harrison.

At the end of the winding road, 45 minutes from downtown Boise, we arrive at Bogus Basin. Of course, Bogus Basin is not a bust. It turns out to be a great day of downhill skiing and a whole lot more.

Bogus is known for its alpine skiing. With 2,600 acres of daytime skiing and 165 acres of nighttime ski terrain, there is plenty of room for locals and visitors. We park near the J.R. Simplot Lodge for easy access to lift tickets, ski rentals, the tubing hill, the Nordic center, and the Glade Runner Mountain Coaster.

Although it is a sunny Saturday and there seems to be a lot of people making the 16-mile journey from Boise, it isn’t too crowded on the slopes. We get our gear quickly and slide into the lift line. My husband, Henry, and 10-year-old Finn make their way to the bunny slope, while Anders and I start with an easy blue run off the Morning Star Chair.

Skiers of all ski levels can find a favorite run. Photo Credit: Melynda Harrison.

We are a family of tentative downhill skiers and while Bogus Basin has lots of expert runs, we appreciate the nice mix with green (easy) and blue (intermediate) runs. We also love that Bogus has such a community feel to it. The Mountain Hosts gave us lots of advice and offered to take us on a mountain tour. As our chairlift companions, they were ready with recommendations for the best runs, and everyone we met was exceptionally friendly.

After three hours of swooshing down the hill, our family reconnected for burgers and pizza on the patio outside the lodge. With the warm sun on our faces, comforting food in our bellies, and happy families and friends all around, we felt like this was our community ski hill, too.

aerial view of tubing hill
Take a look at that tubing hill. Photo Credit: Melynda Harrison.

Across the road from the lower lodge is the tubing hill. We had a 1:30 pm reservation (make reservations!) and wandered over to the 800-foot tubing track. We watched from above for a few minutes, listening to the screams and laughter of the group tubing before us.

After checking in, we grabbed rainbow colored inner tubes and lined up at the top of the hill. When the staff said, “go!” the four of us held onto each other’s tubes and spun down the hill together, snow spraying our faces. By the time we stopped, we were all laughing and a little dizzy.

A conveyor belt took us to the top for another wild ride down the hill. For the second ride, we each went solo and requested a spin from the staff. Flying down a hill, spinning so fast that you can’t tell where you are, your face sprayed with snow, and screaming (was that just me?) has to be one of the most fun and freeing things I’ve done in a while. The kids loved it, but just as many adults were having a blast.

snow tubing
Snow tubing is a must at Bogus. Photo Credit: Melynda Harrison.

When our time was up on the tubing hill, we wandered over to the Frontier Point Nordic Lodge. Originally, we planned on getting in a short cross-country ski tour, but decided we didn’t have the time or energy since we still wanted to ride the Mountain Coaster. Now I know we need to go back.

Whether cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or fat biking, the trails at the Bogus Basin Nordic area look amazing. They wander along the side of the mountain, providing views into the Treasure Valley. 37 kilometers of trails can give you access to a great workout as you climb into the mountains. The Nordic Highway, which leaves from the lodge, is pretty flat – an ideal spot for beginners or a warm up. From the Nordic Highway, loops branch off making for a variety of tours.

As avid Nordic skiers, we could tell that this family-friendly trail system was right up our alley. Next time we come this way, we will spend a whole day here (along with a few runs on the tubing hill!).

From the Frontier Lodge, we walked back to the base area where our day started and got tickets for the Glade Runner Mountain Coaster. A mountain coaster is essentially a roller coaster where you control the speed. We split into pairs, climbed into the cars, and enjoyed the relaxing ride to the top.

mountain roller coaster in snow
Get ready for a wild ride. Photo Credit: Melynda Harrison.

Once given the signal, I pushed the levers all the way down and started screaming (is it just me, again?). I told Finn, seated in front of me, that I had a “no brakes policy,” so we flew down the track. Quick drops and big turns make the coaster so much fun. We sped along next to one of the ski runs and past the lift, screaming and laughing like crazy. When the ride slowed and stopped, we hopped out, ready to go again.

On the drive back to Boise, we imagined what it would be like if we could take the mountain coaster all the way down the mountain, but decided maybe that would be too much even for us. The drive itself was close enough.

We were back in Boise with time to shower and grab dinner before falling into bed, tired but rewarded from a fun day playing on the hill.

Feature image credited to Melynda Harrison.

Melynda Harrison writes about travel and outdoor family adventure at, and for many local and regional publications. When she’s not behind a laptop, you can find her cross-country skiing, hiking, or floating a river.

Published on January 31, 2019