BOISE, Idaho — Ski season is about to begin across Southwest Idaho. As skiers and snowboarders flock to mountains, they’ll still have to navigate some COVID-19 safety measures, but many ski areas have done away with requirements from last season.
In an effort to lower case transmission last winter, Idaho ski areas required masks, closed lodges and dining facilities, and limited lift ridership. Resorts say their efforts were successful in limiting COVID-19 transmission, but they’re leaving some of their protocols behind.
Here’s what to expect at ski areas around the Treasure Valley for the 2021-22 season.
Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area
Visitors to Boise-area Bogus Basin will no longer have to wear masks while outdoors, including in lift lines or on the lifts themselves, Bogus spokesperson Susan Saad said.
“Unlike last year, we’re loading four people to a chair unless people request otherwise,” Saad added.
Last year, the ski area didn’t allow visitors to eat or drink inside lodges. This year, Saad said, Bogus anticipates offering food and beverage services inside its lodges and allowing guests to eat inside, though tables will be spaced out.
“We are still monitoring the (COVID-19) transmission rate closely to make a final decision as to whether we’ll have a mask requirement indoors,” Saad said.
Bogus employees will be masked when indoors, though.
Saad said it’s still “not a bad idea” to bring a mask to the mountain.
In addition to updated COVID-19 protocols, Saad said Bogus has updated some of its amenities, too. The recreation area repaved its main parking lot this summer, adding 200 new spaces. A new food trailer means dining options at the base of the Pine Creek Chairlift. Bogus also increased capacity on the Superior and Morningstar chair lifts.
Brundage Mountain Resort
Like Bogus Basin, Brundage has done away with mask requirements while in lift lines or riding ski lifts. The McCall resort will also be filling its lifts to capacity unless riders request otherwise.
“Guests can expect a much more typical outdoor experience at Brundage Mountain this ski season,” officials said in a news release, adding that enhanced cleaning routines will remain in place.
Brundage also will cap day passes as needed to cut down on crowding. The ski area is sold out of season passes.
Employees and visitors are “strongly encouraged” to wear masks inside the lodge, though Brundage officials said it will not be a requirement. That could change depending on COVID-19 conditions throughout the season.
Brundage recently announced plans for a major 10-year expansion that includes a new base lodge, lift updates and on-site housing.
Donnelly-based Tamarack Resort has relaxed some COVID-19 protocols. Guests are encouraged — but not required — to wear masks indoors, where employees will be required to wear masks.
Visitors will be able to eat indoors but are encouraged to wear a mask when they are not seated. Outdoor seating and “grab-and-go” items are also available.
The resort also emphasized contactless transactions, allowing guests to pick up passes without face-to-face interaction.
Tamarack, which changed hands in 2018, is still in the midst of major expansion projects. In January, resort officials announced ambitious plans to double the ski area’s size in the next decade. Visitors will notice some upgrades, including 200 new parking spaces, WiFi upgrades, new dining options, and lessons and ski services.
Soldier Mountain, which came under new ownership in 2020, said it is following National Ski Areas Association best practices for COVID-19 safety.
The Fairfield ski area will hold a Pray For Snow party on Dec. 4 to kick off the 2021-22 season.
Sun Valley Resort
Sun Valley is no longer requiring masks in lift lines, but all visitors — regardless of vaccination status — are required to wear them indoors under mask mandates put in place by Ketchum and Sun Valley, according to the resort’s website.