Purpose built Keystone is one of the best intermediate resorts in North America with acre upon acre of immaculately groomed tree lined runs, excellent beginners terrain which includes the long summit-to-base Schoolmarm run but it has limited advanced skiing and boarding. Night skiing, up until 9pm, is available on well over half of the mountain area which means that Keystone, as well as the USA’s biggest snowmaking operation (100% of the mountain is covered), also has the most extensive area of night skiing. Keystone has been virtually rebuilt over recent years but any amount of investment has yet to invoke atmosphere in the village centres. Still, there is plenty going on, the staff in lodgings, retailers, restaurants and on the mountain make a real effort. It is a well served, snowsure user-friendly resort which has won many awards for being family orientated. Children under 13 stay free and children under 5 ski free.
|Opens||Oct – June|
The three mountains lie one behind the other (hence 3 mountain deep tag line): Keystone Mountain faces the resort and is one of Colorado’s best laid out and groomed mountains. Behind is North Peak while behind is the Outback with its North and South
Bowls, each area offering progressively stiffer terrain. The main Mountain House base station has three chairlifts taking skiers up the mountainside, including a newer high speed quad, and the other base
station – River Run – is the lower station to the Skyway Gondola. Basically the intermediate runs are plentiful and are said to run up and down the mountain. These are typically twisting, turning but at all times
flattering and well groomed cruises. Paymaster, The Flying Dutchman, Frenchman and the Wild Irishman are among the better intermediate runs to offer easy natual changes in terrain and clearly have not had their guts taken out of them when they were cut initially. The trails which are cut across the mountain are mainly the beginners and early intermediate runs. The best of these cut across the front face of Keystone Mountain and include the Schoolmarm. Keystone does have some more challenging terrain for more advanced skiers, but might be seen as a stopover on a multi resort tour for better skiers and boarders. On Keystone mountain itself advanced intermediates and experts will gravitate towards Go Devil.
Heading for North Peak from the Keystone Mountain summit it is the long and usually immaculately groomed Mozart which offers some steeper pitches to hold the attention of better skiers and boarders, or alternatively the Diamond Back can be taken by those who prefer a few bumps to tests the
knees. The North Peak runs are mostly the ideal domain for accomplished intermediates and skiers. Starfire is recommended as a good introduction to this more aggressive terrain. Powder Cap, Bullet and Ambush are all Black Diamonds which spur off Starfire.
Anticipation and Spillway are the intermediate runs which in turn access
The Outback. This expanded area mixes everything from tree lined glades, big open bowls and steep chutes. The two main black diamond standard North and South bowls
require a short hike from the top of the Outback Express gondola. Down the tree lined face are four narrow steep black diamond runs with a further four shorter unpisted runs above them which feed the easier Goalpost Gully. Keystone have just built a new six-person $3.1 million lift, replacing the three-person Ruby chair, will take less than six minutes to transport guests to the top of the mountain, into Keystone Gulch from the The Windows. Recommended are the USA’s Slalom and GS Olympic and World Cup medal winning Mahre brothers three and five day training courses. On the mountain the Alpenglow Stube is widely commended as one of the USA’s best mountain restuarants, but with night skiing operational there is the
chance to enjoy the full culinary experience in the early evening, then to ski it off back to base station after dinner.
|Accommodation & Apres Ski|
Essentially it is a sprawling collection of well served condominiums, which are linked to the main resort hubs by shuttle bus. The $700m River Run condos are the among the newest major developments and are located at the base of the main gondola station with their own local shops, restaurants and bars which come closest to offering an albeit sanitised taste of real village life, while the Ski Tip Lodge offers a more atmospheric choice – as a former staging post which has ski tips collected by Keytsone’s founder
Max Dercum as door handles. The three village centres are all linked by shuttle bus to all main accomodation areas, and the centres all have a choice of restaurants, bars and a few shops. A unique multi activity card is available which offers all inclusive access to everything from yoga to hockey clinics, snowshoeing, a mountain tour,
kids adventure night, kids glow bug skate tour, NASTAR and a tennis clinic. Apres ski in Keytone is widespread and varied. Start with North America’s biggest natural skating lake. For eating out the most usual recommendations are the Ski Tip Lodge and the Keystone Ranch, but so too there are a fair number of pizza, burger and italian pasta places. It is very much a family resort so apres ski is relatively anodyne.