Keystone Resort in Colorado offers some terrific skiing, as well as other winter fun – tubing, ice skating, great dining and more. We just returned from 5 days there and had an amazing time. Of course, the conditions couldn’t have been any better with 9 inches on the first day, followed by a gorgeous bluebird day. We were stunned by the views we saw each time we were at the Summit House:
If you are going to Keystone Resort this season, I put together a few tips to make your trip even better. If you don’t have plans to visit, maybe this list will convince you. Though we took an adult vacation, Keystone Resort is perfect for families too. With closing day not until early April, there is still plenty of time to plan a trip – Spring Break maybe?
13 Tips for a Winter Trip to Keystone, Colorado
When to go: Plan your trip to spend as many weekdays as you can at Keystone Resort. As the resort itself is close to Denver, the slopes get pretty busy on the weekends. We planned to get up and ski on the Saturday before we left and didn’t get as many runs in as we thought we would because of the wait times at the lifts. This was Saturday at 10 am on the Montezuma Express:
Book your stay though the resort – There are many incentives to booking your stay through Keystone Resort versus an online site. All kids 12 & under ski free when you stay 2 or more nights – all kids in your party, not just one per adult! That takes the pressure off of pushing your kids out the door each day cause your PAID for their lift tickets! And you can head up the mountain the night your arrive for Night Skiing for free. Also, you can pick up your ski rentals anytime after 3pm the day before you rent them (essentially getting them for half a day for free – and go night skiing). Resort guests also have free ice skating passes and more fun incentives.
Use the Epic Mix App – Download the Epic Mix App to your smartphone and sign up for the free account using your lift ticket number. This app is for all Vail Resorts and you can get customized plans for your day based on what level of skiing you’d like to do and how long you plan on skiing for. I wished we had played with it more BEFORE we hit the mountain. The first blue we attempted was Mozart, which is apparently a really tough blue. Had we used the app, it would have steered us to some more gentler blues to start the trip with.
EpicMix also tracks your vertical feet & collects “pins” based on your activity for the day, making it fun to compare with your friends. It also provides trail maps, shows where you can get food and has all your pictures you take with the resort photographers. It’s a terrific app and I recommend playing with it ahead of your trip so you can get the most out of it.
Plan for Busy Days – If weekends are unavoidable, get up early and hit the River Run Gondola by 8:15 am. They will begin loading at 8:30 am. We didn’t ever have to wait to get on this lift until Friday and Saturday. Since it is the main lift to get up to the Summit, it gets busy.
Once you are up on the Mountain, stay up & ski the Backside: We didn’t head over to The Outpost until our last day and we could kick ourselves! After Mozart, we were intimidated to try the blues over there until we got our ski legs back. There were no waits for the lifts and the runs were fantastic, with hardly anyone on them. We didn’t get a chance to try the runs on The Outback, but a local said they were terrific.
Take a Ski Lesson: I have only been skiing for 3 years and I can get down a blue just fine, but I wanted to feel more confident, so I choose to take a ski lesson on my first day. It was the best decision I could have made. I spent 2 and a half hours with Stephen with the Keystone Ski & Ride School and with 5 – 6 tips, he changed my whole ski trip. He made me much more confident in my skiing, which made skiing down a blue so much more enjoyable. I was signed up for group lesson, but because it was a Wednesday afternoon, it ended up being private lesson and I had one-on-one time with him. I was very impressed at how quickly he was able to assess my ability and show me just a few tweaks that made the difference.
You are never too old (or too good) for a ski lesson. I really encourage everyone to take a quick one at the beginning of their trip – I promise you, it will be worth it.
Dress for the Cold: It was COLD the first day we skied – it snowed all day and we were dressed appropriately, so it was fine. However, even when it was in the 40’s & sunny the next few days, I found myself cold. I still skied with a neck gaiter, a NorthFace liner and 2 gloves. There are no lockers at the top, so pack your ski jacket wisely – better to shed than to suffer without.
Pack a lunch & a water bottle/ bladder: There is dining on top of the mountain, but I saw several families sit at some picnic tables and pull out sandwiches – the views were spectacular for a picnic lunch! Or plan to ski down Labonte’s Smokehouse BBQ – they have tons of tables & adirondack chairs to sit in the sun and during Spring Break, they have live bands. Also, there are lots of spots to refill your own water bottles/bladders. If you don’t bring one, you will end up paying for a cup to fill.
Try Night Skiing: Keystone Resort boasts the “longest ski day in Colorado” with 9 runs that are open through 8 pm. We tried Night Skiing one night but decided it just wasn’t for us. Though we could see the slopes, we were too nervous and couldn’t relax. There were a lot of snowboarders who were flying past us (those daredevils!) and we took one run down and said “we tried it!”. If you do plan on going night skiing, don’t ski a full day before or your legs will be tired. And try to start earlier to avoid the line that piles up at the River Run Gondola. Past 6 pm, it is the only lift available to get to the top, so it tends to get busy.
Don’t miss Cookie Hour: Everyday at 4pm near the ice rink in River Run Village, grab a warm cookie. On Saturdays, it’s right after the Kidtopia Parade.
Make Dining Reservations: There are some terrific dining choices in Keystone. I encourage you to take in an awesome meal while you are visiting. We enjoyed a romantic, 4-course meal at The Ski Tip Lodge (the oldest Ski Lodge in North America), a fun evening of fondue & make-your-own meal at Der Fondue Chessel and a luxurious lunch at Aspenglow Stube while we were there. All meals were memorable in their own way – reviews to come!
Try Other Winter Activities that Keystone Resort offers: I went to ski, but was so glad we had planned some other activities in the afternoons that allowed us to not only rest our legs, but try some new winter experiences. Tubing at Adventure Point is so much for for all ages – you get a full hour to go up & down as many times as you can. Make sure to have the guides spin you!
We also took a Mountaintop Snowcat Tour that was outstanding. We rode up to the top of Independence Bowl (12,500 feet) and the views were stunning. It was such a fun way to see more of the mountain. And I loved talking to the Snowcat guide/driver and hearing about his fun job.
Take a picture at the beginning of Schoolmarm: Make sure on a clear day you stop to take a picture with the Keystone Resort photographers. The view is terrific and the backdrop of the mountains make a beautiful keepsake for your trip.
Keystone Resort has so much to offer beyond terrific skiing. When planning your next ski trip – make sure to check it out.
Disclosure: I was invited to visit Keystone Resort as a guest. I was not paid for this article. All opinions about Keystone Resort are my own.