“You’re going to laugh,” my husband said, laughing himself as he sipped coffee on a recent weekend morning.
“I really had a great time at Keystone last Sunday.”
For the past few years, we’ve skied Keystone at least once or twice a ski season and we always enjoy it.
Keystone is a big mountain, with incredibly diverse terrain, excellent infrastructure, grooming and snowmaking, and, my favorite offering, extensive night skiing.
What’s not to like, right?
“You know,” he continued, “for years I only thought of Keystone as a place for beginners or young children.”
“But every time I ski Keystone I realize how wrong that perception really is.”
“Keystone is a great mountain.”
Fun For Everyone, Not Just Kids
If you’re one of the people who has avoided skiing Keystone Resort because you thought it was just for families with young children, it’s time to give this big Colorado mountain another look.
Without a doubt, Keystone has carved out a position as the most family-oriented of Colorado mountains, with extensive daily, weekly and season-long programming designed for kids and their families.
Keystone was the first mountain to offer a “Kids Ski Free” lodging package and I’m pretty sure it’s the only mountain featuring Kids’ Culinary and Music Festivals.
But beyond these special events, what really entices is the skiing and snowboarding.
On my husband’s most recent trip to Keystone, he was skiing with one of our sons. They arrived at about 8:30 a.m. and found a lot of people in line for the gondola and chairlift at the River Run base.
Because Keystone has such good lift infrastructure, the line didn’t take long and by the time they’d made their way over the top to North Peak, the second of the three peaks that comprise the resort, they were skiing steep, perfectly groomed slopes — all by themselves.
And that’s the thing about Keystone, if you love steep groomers, you can find them. If you love tree skiing, you can find it. Bumps? Indeed. Keystone even has cat skiing in Independence Bowl and South Bowl at the top of the mountain. And yes, Keystone also has plenty of family fun zones and beginner terrain, as well as one of the most highly regarded terrain parks in the country, A51.
In fact, the terrain is so vast – Keystone is the third largest resort in Colorado, behind Vail Mountain and Snowmass – you can find anything you desire and you can leave everyone else behind. It’s just a matter of getting out and getting going.
Tips for Skiing Keystone
Don’t Worry About Crowds
Keystone is in the heart of Summit County and close to Denver, so it does get busy on weekends.
So here’s your strategy: Get in line and then move out across the mountain. Study the map before you go or use EpicMix guide on your phone.
If you want to improve your glade skiing or moguls or have another reason to take a lesson, do it. Lessons for intermediate and above skiers are not only good for improving technique, but they are also a great way to score some local intel. Ask your instructor to take you to her or his favorite runs, and enjoying being able to access the lifts via the ski school line.
And truly, as my husband experienced on a busy Sunday, once you’re out of the base area, everyone really spreads out.
Don’t Underestimate the Terrain
Standing at the top of Dercum Mountain, and looking out over Summit County, you quickly get an idea of how steep the runs at Keystone can be.
While Dercum Mountain is almost exclusively blue and green runs, the areas known as The Outpost and The Outback are mostly advanced and the runs are long. Not only that, but in addition to cat skiing, those set on earning their turns above tree line can choose their lines in a total of five off-piste bowls.
Go Night Skiing
As I mentioned, this is my favorite. I thoroughly enjoy skiing Keystone during the day, but when it comes to night skiing, no other resort that I know of can compete with the variety of runs and amount of terrain open under the lights.
Keystone’s base is at 9,280 feet in altitude, going up to 11,640 feet, so nights are chilly, even on temperate days. But since you’ll be skiing a good portion of the resort’s frontside, you’ll heat up through exertion (and riding the gondola helps, too).
It’s a great time and a really good way to maximize an arrival day, or just log as many vertical feet on EpicMix as you can in one day.
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