Last season, we took a 5 day ski trip at Keystone Resort with the family. We tried as much as we could while we were there – skiing, ice skating, tubing and more. Here’s everything you need to know about a ski trip to Keystone Resort – the Ultimate Guide to Keystone Resort with Kids.
These Texans love to ski. It’s a shame we like living in Texas so much, or we would be in Colorado in a heartbeat. It’s no wonder that every fall we start planning our annual ski trip, book the flights and then count down the days until we hit the slopes.
While in Keystone Resort a few years ago for an adult-ski trip, we saw how fantastic a resort it was for families and were determined to take our kids back. Last year, we were able to take our two boys, 7 and 14, and had such a great time. Having been here twice now, we were able to experience a great deal beyond just skiing – the fun winter activities, the kid’s experience, and lots of great dining – enough to put together this guide for any family visiting Keystone Resort.
Ultimate Guide to Keystone Resort with Kids
Keystone Resort With Kids: Why Keystone Resort?
We prefer to ski in Colorado as the snow is always reliable, plus we feel there is a great deal of variety of runs to satisfy all our families’ skiing levels. We also really like the fact that Keystone Resort is only 90 minutes from the Denver International Airport, making it the closest ski resort to get to. Keystone Resort has 131 ski runs covering 3 peaks and 5 bowls.
We chose a family trip to Keystone Resort because of how family friendly we knew the Resort was. They have an amazing ski school program and lots of different activities for kids to do with their Kidtopia programming, which I will get into more detail later.
Keystone Resort with Kids: Getting to Keystone Resort
If you are flying, get as early a flight into Denver International Airport as you can to avoid any winter-weather related delays that can occur later in the day. We have always had great luck flying with Frontier and Southwest coming from Texas.
We also prefer to take the Colorado Mountain Express from the airport out to Keystone Resort. When we ski, we typically don’t need a car to get around. And Keystone Resort has a terrific bus system that is free and reliable – as in buses every 15 mins. The Colorado Mountain Express is an inexpensive way to get to the Resort on a clean & comfortable bus. And they offer free wifi, which makes my kids happy.
As a tip, if you are heading back to the airport on a Sunday, make sure to leave plenty of time to get back into Denver. The traffic heading down I-70 was very heavy and took twice as long to get back as it did to drive up to Keystone.
Keystone Resort with Kids: Lodging
When choosing a place to stay, we recommend staying close to the ski lifts, in either River Run or Mountain House. If you are skiing with kids, this is a must as you will be hauling all their ski equipment as well as your own to & from the lifts each day. We have stayed in both the town homes and condos at the Red Hawk Lodge in River Run and both were great. Both had terrific character, lots of space and full kitchens. Also, look into Keystone Resort for lodging as their Kids Ski Free program is terrific. All kids 12 and under received free ski lift tickets when 2 or more nights are booked with Keystone Lodging. That is a terrific savings. And with over 100,000 free lift tickets given to kids since the programs’ inception in 2012, Keystone Resort is helping to create a whole new generation of skiers, making it more affordable for families to take a ski vacation.
We also really like staying in River Run, as the Gondola is right there and there are lots of terrific restaurants. There is also a mini-mart to pick up breakfast items, coffee, milk, and snacks.
Keystone Resort with Kids: Skiing/Snowboarding
We come to ski and Keystone has terrific runs that are groomed each night. We like the variety that the 3 different peaks give you. And with 20 different lifts, the lines seem to be small, allowing you to ski more. And this season, Keystone opened a new six-passenger chair lift on Montezuma’s Express which will ease congestion and give us much shorter lines at the base!
Your first day is a great time to get acclimated to the area. We typically don’t ski our first day in, as we use the time to get acclimated with the area (and the altitude change). This is also a great time to pick up any ski rentals needs you may have. We rented from Keystone Sports in River Run. Because we were in right after lunch, it wasn’t busy and had excellent customer service, making sure everything fit just right. They also don’t charge for rentals on the first day if you pick up after 3PM.
For the newest skiers, Keystone Resort offers Camp Keystone – a unique and interactive ski school. Inside, Camp Keystone has fun activities & interactions to prepare your child for snow & skiing before they go try it out. Special games and energetic instructors make ski school fun for little ones. My nephew tried Camp Keystone out and loved his experience.
My children are all new skiers. They have been a few times, but since we only ski once or twice a season, we always book ski lessons for them on the first day. Keystone Resort has a variety of different kinds of ski lessons – from group lessons, to small-ratio classes (4 students to 1 instructor) to private family lessons – there are a variety of different options to choose from.
Family Ski Lesson
The 4 of us took a full-day private family ski lesson with Jim, who was incredibly patient with our variety of ski levels. He took our youngest for a few runs on the learning trail while the rest of us worked on getting our ski legs going. We then switched off and he focused on our middle son while my husband & I got to ski with the little guy. I loved skiing behind Jim when we was coaching my boys as I would pick up reminders to better my skiing form and I could hear how he was coaching them, so I could do the same as the days progressed.
We all skied together on Schoolmarm (a terrific run for families & beginner skiers) that afternoon and it was great fun to see both of my boys progress throughout the day. We really enjoyed taking lessons as a family as we got to ski together the full day and we all got better.
As I mentioned previously, we really enjoy the variety of ski runs that Keystone offers. The ratio is broken down 14% beginner, 29% intermediate, and 57% advanced, but we found some very gentle blues that we skied on the whole trip. And the runs are long and wide, so you rarely feel crowded (especially on a weekday). If you are up for exciting skiing, you can catch a ride on a snowcat for $10 and they will take you to one of the bowls to ski.
Another fun feature that Keystone offers is night skiing. Several runs are lit at night and you can ski them until 8PM. We have tried it, but honestly, after skiing all day, our legs are almost too tired to ski at night. As if this wasn’t enough, check out the 51 Terrain Park for jumps, rails, and all that cool stuff to do tricks. We are no where close to doing crazy stuff like that, but if you want to see some of the stunts, make sure to take a ride on the Peru Express.
Keystone Resort with Kids: Winter Activities
It’s hard to pull yourself away from the slopes but it is nice to give your legs a rest and enjoy some of the other fun winter activities that Keystone Resort has to offer:
Adventure Point Snow Tubing
One of my boys’ favorite activities we tried on this latest trip was snow tubing Adventure Point. Loaded on top of Dercum Mountain, I think people are surprised at how long this tubing hill is. Not so much a hill, but a racing course with professional throwers & spinners to make the experience that much more fun. We had an hour to get in as many runs as we could and the most fun ones were when we hooked all four of us together. And bonus – you don’ have to lug the tube back up the hill, Adventure Point has a magic carpet ride.
Make sure to plan some play time at the snow fort also located at the top of Dercum Mountain. This life-sized fort made completely out of snow is really cool – you don’t expect it to be so big! It has tunnels and slides and it fun for kids of all sizes.
Mountain Top Snowcat Tours
You know those lights you see up on the hill grooming the trails each night? Ever want to check one out? Each afternoon, Mountain Top Snowcat tours take non-skiers out to the summit of one of the mountains for some pretty spectacular views of the Continental Divide. It was a memorable tour.
Ice Skating at Lakeside Village
How long has it been since you went ice skating? Probably too long – or maybe you have never tried at all? You need to check out the 5 acre pond over at Lakeside Village and try ice skating for a change of scenery. In fact, this ice rink is the largest outdoor Zamboni-maintained ice skating rink in North America. We had so much fun ice skating – I promise you, it’s just like riding a bike. And don’t worry, you can always rent a trainer for $5 to help you get starter. That’s what we did, and it was the smartest move ever.
Seven days a week, Keystone Resort offers fun & unique family programming. From scavenger hunts to organized snowball fights, there are fun activities each afternoon/evening. Some highlights include warm cookies daily at the Dercum Ice Rink in River Run, Ripparoo’s Village Parade, and Saturday night Fireworks. Check out all the free activities here.
Keystone Resort with Kids: Dining
Some families like to kick back in their condos when skiing, but let me be honest with you – we are not that family. We are so tired after a long day of skiing, that we enjoy a little muscle-relaxation in the hot tub and a nice dinner out in the evening. Needless to say, we have tried some pretty great food in Keystone.
Most of the time, we are at the top of the mountain skiing at lunch time, so we either grab a quick slice of pizza or bowl of soup at the Summit House or hit our favorite, Labonte’s Smokehouse BBQ at the bottom of the Mozart run (which is a blue and the easiest way to get here). Labonte’s was recently expanded to seat 190 indoors, so it’s perfect for a lunch spot for families. And on a bluebird day, it’s so relaxing to sit in these chairs in the sun and take a siesta before hitting more trails.
If you are in River Run for lunch, the pizza at Pizza on the Run is terrific. We also like the burgers at Kickapoo Tavern. Or grab a crepe from the Crepe Stand – sweet or savory, they are delicious.
Make sure you plan at least one evening out while at Keystone Resort to enjoy some amazing signature dining. We had two favorites from this last trip and it’s a toss-up on which one was better. Both are unique and provide some pretty special memories, so go ahead and book both.
You have to take two gondola rides (River Run & Outpost) to dine at Der Fondue Chessel on top of the north Peak Mountain, but it’s absolutely worth it – plus they provide you with heated blankets. This Bavarian-inspired meal consists of cheese fondue and meats grilled over a racalette. We sat in front of a giant fireplace and listened to polka music while dipping various fruits, veggies, and breads into the delectable cheese. And for dessert? You guessed it – chocolate fondue. Make sure you save room for it.
Even more memorable, the next evening we took a Dinner Sleigh Ride. After a 20 minute ride on a horse-drawn sleigh, we are invited into a small cabin in the wood for a unique dining experience. Starting with beef stew & hot cocoa to warm us up, the food keeps coming – homemade biscuits, steaks, chicken, and even apple pie with ice cream. We all sing cowboy-tunes together before we bundled up for the sleigh ride back. Lucky for us, it was a clear night and the stars were putting on a show – we even saw a few shooting stars.
Keystone Resort is ideal for families. From those that want the speed to those that want the food, there is something for everyone at this resort. What tips to do have for Keystone Resort with Kids?
Kidtopia Signature Event Series
Dedicated to family fun, Keystone Resort has fun events for kids this ski season. They hosted the second annual Kidtopia Spectacular in December and have the inaugural Kidtopia Culinary festival February 9-17, 2018 and the Kidtopia Music Experience March 2-10, 2018. Learn more about these special events here.
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Disclosure: My family & I were invited to visit Keystone Resort as guests. I was not compensated for this article. All opinions are my own.