Forest Service Accepts Brundage Master Plan as Resort Strives for Destination Status
Up to seven new lifts, including two more high-speed quads, could eventually serve substantial terrain expansions
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Brundage sets new destination
Brundage is one of those sneaky ones. It’s the sort of out-of-the-way joint that western destination skiers dismissively label “small.” But it is, in fact, the 37th-largest ski area in America. With 1,920 skiable acres, it is just a touch smaller than 2,000-acre Telluride. Brundage is the fourth-largest ski area in Idaho, and is bigger than anything in New England. The vertical drop, in a weird coincidence with its size, is 1,921 vertical feet. It’s a snow magnet, averaging 320 inches per winter.
The perception of smallness is likely driven by a modern but underwhelming lift fleet: one high-speed quad, four triple chairs, and a carpet. Which, “Bro, you don’t even have bottle service on them pieces? Lamestain Deluxe, Brah. This is why my dad always takes us to Tahoe Mountain.”
But Brundage is replacing the most problematic of these lifts, Centennial, a 1990 CTEC triple that rises 1,653 vertical feet in 12 minutes, with a new Doppelmayr high-speed quad this summer. And the mountain’s updated master development plan (MDP), recently accepted by the U.S. Forest Service, could add up to seven more chairlifts, including two more high-speed quads, mostly on expansion terrain that would significantly increase the size of the resort. Here is Brundage today:
And here is the accepted masterplan:
Brundage GM Ken Rider discussed these potential terrain expansions and lift additions with me on The Storm Skiing Podcast last year, but we now have exact specifications for each of the proposed lifts:
Trail acreage of all these new terrain pods would add up to 285, more than doubling the resort’s current 265 trail acres. Brundage would also thin a few dozen acres for glade skiing, but the majority of the terrain between the trails would presumably be skiable.
Brundage views itself as a regional destination resort, with McCall, eight miles away, supplying every part of the resort experience aside from the skiing. But the new masterplan lays out significant ambitions for on-mountain housing expansion, some of which is already underway.
New housing, combined with a more modern lift fleet and larger terrain footprint, could move Brundage toward that destination classification. The Sargent’s, Way Back, and Hidden Valley lifts and associated terrain pods were originally approved in 1999. The others still face individual approvals – Forest Service “acceptance” of a masterplan is simply an agreement on the general future direction of a resort, not final approval for any specific element of the document. However, it’s worth looking at the individual lifts and terrain pods, as well as proposed snowmaking and lodging upgrades, to consider how each would help Brundage evolve:
Below the paid subscriber jump: a lift-by-lift breakdown of Brundage’s masterplan; plus: a lost ski area will return - with a substantially shrunken footprint, an eastern ski area details expansion plans, and much more.