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Upgrades at Idaho resorts look to lift visitor counts

A tower is lifted into place by helicopter to accommodate a chairlift at Bogus Basin. Photo courtesy of Highlander Lift Construction

The start to the ski season is still a few months away, but resorts around the state have been investing heavily in improvements from new accommodations and lifts to snowmaking and other amenities.

Ongoing improvements are a significant step in retaining the base of existing skiers and boarders and attracting new participants, say representatives of the Tamarack and Bogus Basin recreation areas.

Indeed, there was some heavy lifting in evidence this week at the two locations before the snowflakes start falling.

Crews at Tamarack on Sept. 3 completed installation of the new one-mile-long Wildwood chairlift, a high-speed, detachable quad servicing the 200-acre Wildwood terrain on the north side of the resort.

“The amount of new terrain this lift offers access to elevates the skiing and boarding experience,” said Tamarack President Jon Reveal. “While lift lines are rarely an issue, Wildwood will alleviate the time spent in line and give skiers and boarders more time on the mountain to enjoy our 1,100 acres of lift-accessible terrain.”

A heavy-duty helicopter flew in the 18 towers for the Doppelmayr 4-passenger detachable chairlift during the day-long installation, while crews secured the towers and cross arms.

Helming the project was Paul Johnston, owner of Highlander Lift Construction.

Bogus Basin also achieved its own construction milestone this week: Eleven towers for the new Morning Star high-speed quad chairlift were also flown into position by helicopter Sept. 4. The nonprofit recreation area also retained Highlander as contractor for the project.

This is the first new chairlift for Bogus since 2011, bringing the total number of high-speed detachable quads to four. The Doppelmayr cost approximately $5 million, according to a resort spokeswoman.

Bogus Basin has invested nearly $20 million back into the area in just three years through a combination of revenue and community contributions.

Though skiing remains their bread and butter, resorts around the state have invested in year-round activities, like the mountain coaster at Bogus, to stoke visitation.

“The mountain coaster has been the main attraction for our summer business,” General Manager Brad Wilson said in a statement. “And it continues to produce the expected visits as outlined in the master plan.

“We will be adding even more offerings that improve the experience in both summer and winter,” Wilson said of the resort, which is located about 17 miles north of Boise and operates with a special use permit on the Boise National Forest.

Earlier this summer, construction crews also got to work at Tamarack on completing the first phase of the Village Plaza. For more than a decade, the village sat undisturbed at Tamarack, a four-season resort located in Donnelly, about 90 miles north of Boise.

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