Local skiers and boarders are looking forward to increased access to Moonlight Basin via the Jack Creek access road thanks to an agreement between the resort and the Madison Valley Ski Club.
Last year club members were required to caravan to and from the mountain, departing from Lions Club Park in Ennis at a specific time each morning. The requirement made it difficult for families with small kids to get up to the hill, and going for a half day was not an option.
But starting Dec. 11 all MVSC members will have daily access to the private portion of the Jack Creek road between 7:45 a.m. and 6:45 p.m. Members are required to register their vehicle with the club and have a club-issued road pass visible on the dashboard while traveling the road.
This loosening of the road restrictions will allow the club access to the ski area throughout the day, said club representative Ross Lingle.
The increased access for club members will make a huge difference in generating interest in skiing throughout the community, and the resort has been working hard to help local skiers access their terrain, he said.
“For Madison County residents it saves a ton of time and it makes it feel like we’re actually a part of the ski area,” Lingle said.
The resort also benefits because a portion of club membership fees goes toward road maintenance, and Lingle estimates the club will expand by 50 percent this season.
“For Moonlight that helps because they’ll have more ticket sales,” he said.
Winter enthusiasts will also find a few new changes up on the slopes as well, including nine new runs off the Iron Horse chairlift and a new building beside the Madison Lodge. The 30 by 60 foot structure is designed to alleviate lunchtime congestion in the Madison Lodge and Headwaters Grille area. Moonlight Basin’s John Knapton was enthusiastic about the overall feel of the new dining area accented with a wood stove and tongue and groove paneling.
“We want people to come up and feel like they’re free to bring their own food and beverages and sack lunch, and we’ve got a really good spot for them to do that,” he said. “That’s probably where I’ll be eating with my family on most days that I’m up here skiing.”
Beyond the flexible access for ski club members to the Jack Creek Road, Moonlight is also looking to line up a local vendor for lift tickets, Knapton said.
Moonlight Basin is currently working to change over the resort’s ownership to the investment bank Lehman Brothers. The deal will move Moonlight Basin out of bankruptcy, which they filed for in 2009.
Meanwhile, Ross Lingle and other ski club members will continue to promote responsible use of the Jack Creek Road as they look forward to riding Moonlight Basin’s slopes this winter. Community members will have opportunities to join the club Nov. 9 at Ennis Public School, Nov. 16 at the Gravel Bar chili social, Dec. 2 during the Ski Swap and Dec. 12 at the Ennis High School basketball game.
“We just want to make people aware that it’s a huge opportunity that Moonlight Basin is offering Madison County residents,” Lingle said.