On the flip side, expert skiers and snowboarders might be left a little disappointed. Despite more than half the runs being labeled as blacks, the trails, bowls or even the snow cat access terrain just aren’t as gnarly as what you’d expect from other resorts such as Arapahoe Basin. The lack of snowfall compared to other neighboring ski resorts plays as another disadvantage to Keystone, though their extraordinary snowmaking and grooming operations make up for it!
Part of the Vail group, the River Run main base village has everything you’d expect from a Vail-owned resort with fantastic facilities, shopping and dining establishments all within a pedestrian-friendly ski village. Unlike Vail and its equally luxurious sister Beaver Creek, Keystone is slightly better value for money and a bit more laid-back. What sets Keystone apart is its family friendly atmosphere, from daily kids activities to complimentary wagons to cart kids and their equipment around! So that sort of spells out the après-ski scene for you. If dancing and drinking till the wee hours of the morning is more of your thing then head over to neighboring party town Breckenridge. Whether you’re looking to ski from morning and well into the evening or just looking to have a relaxing family vacation, Keystone is sure to please everyone!
As a member of the “3X3 Club” thanks to its 3,128 feet of vertical drop spread across 3,000 acres, Keystone stands as one of America’s larger resorts, boasting a total of 20 ski lifts, 128 named trails and 5 bowls.
The mountain offers a unique and skier-friendly layout, with a wide variety of terrain, though it’s light on large open bowls and chutes. There are three mountains to enjoy at Keystone, with intermediates skiers being the winner as there are great blue offerings across all peaks.
At the front looms Dercum Mountain, featuring some of Colorado’s finest long-groomed runs including excellent top to bottom beginner terrain and plenty of greens and blues to cruise for the whole family. This mountain is also where you’ll find one of America’s best terrain parks, Area 51 (A51) (sorry – no aliens here). Two base areas, River Run and Mountain House, both sit at the bottom of Dercum Mountain, meaning you’ll need to pass over this mountain to get through to the other two peaks behind it.
The second mountain, North Peak, boasts some of the best bump runs on the continent as well as a higher angled groomed run that is sure to excite intermediate skiers.
The third, the Outback, is well-known for its peaceful, gladed terrain offering untouched powder and loads of natural beauty for intermediate and advanced skiers.
Weather is rarely extreme, as Keystone’s elevation is lower than other Summit County resorts, and most of the terrain sits below the tree-line. This makes for a less extravagant view than one could find at other resorts, but at least you’re less prone to heavy winds and weather-related problems! Despite having a lower elevation, the resort is still high enough that snow stays very dry and fluffy!
When to Go
The ski season lasts from late November through mid-April, with the peak period occurring between January and March. Bear in mind that prices and rates increase during this time, and the slopes can get very crowded.
Weekends and holidays tend to run high as well, so check your calendar to make sure your visit doesn’t coincide with any U.S. celebrations. Christmas and New Year’s will always be more expensive, while three-day weekends (i.e. Martin Luther King Day and Presidents’ Day) see crowds flocking in. For the best deals, visit Keystone during the first two weeks of January. These weeks are usually slower, and their prices won’t tear through your wallet. All that snow to yourself… It’s a true “winter’s tale”.
Generally, Keystone tickets are amongst the highest-priced in North America behind Vail and Breckenridge with adult single day tickets going for about 150 USD. The good news is that your day ticket also provides you with access to the only night skiing area available in the region, increasing your ticket's mileage. You’ll receive the biggest discount if you purchase your ticket online at least 7 days in advance. If this is a spontaneous trip, you can still save by purchasing online up to midnight on the night before. Don’t forget, most lodging options also include daily lift passes as part of their package offerings.
There are several season passes available to help you cover the most terrain but your best bet here is the Epic Pass; which also works for five major resorts near and around Keystone. Depending on your flexibility, an Epic Pass can be obtained at a considerable discount, and it usually winds up paying for itself after your fifth day, if purchased early. Just note there are certain limitations to this pass at other resorts so read up on the terms before you buy.