What’s safe, what’s accessible, what’s fun?
Photo: Keystone Resort
Welcome to Keystone, Colorado—a three peak, two base, ski resort in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Convenience and affordability is major factor for families choosing a ski destination. Luckily, Keystone provides both of those thanks to its one-hour proximity to Denver International Airport, which offers Colorado skiers the cheapest airfare.
Kid-friendly amenities and experiences are also a huge piece of a make or break family ski vacation and in that department, Keystone is the best in the business. Boasting great beginner terrain, family ski runs and the epic Kidtopia, Keystone provides a complete gamut of experiences for kids and their families.
To help you and your little ones have your best ski vacation yet, we’ve comprised a guide to Keystone.
What to ski
Skiing as a family in unfamiliar territory may seem like a stressful burden, but at Keystone Resort has taken this into consideration. Most beginner learning areas are open to the public and can be accessed either by foot or gondola. The following is a rundown on beginner ski areas for families.
Discovery Learning Area
Photo: Keystone Resort
The beginner hill at Discovery lift is located at the Mountain House Base, adjacent to West Keystone Road and the Marmot parking lot. This area is perfect if you are looking to hop out the car and try a few easy runs as a family. The Double Barrel magic carpet is your first stop; use the gentle hill here to access if your family is ready for a steeper grade. After Double Barrel, the Discovery Lift is a great chairlift for families to exercise their skills and speed control. To skier’s left of the beginner hill, sits Tornado Alley, a great spot for kids to take some fun turns.
Ranger Learning Area
Looking for a magic carpet with a view? The learning area at the top of Dercum Mountain is accessible by River Run Gondola from the River Run Base Area and comes equipped with a magic carpet, beginner chairlift and a kids adventure zone. Start off on the covered Kokomo magic carpet, where your family can warm up and access either skill level. Once your family is cruising, take Endeavor to the Ranger chairlift, a short, cat-track inspired green ski trail. The next stop is Scout, another green run that mimics the pitches of the more challenging Schoolmarm trail. Additionally, hidden in the trees to skiers’ left of Kokomo Carpet, is Murphy’s Mine—a fun, short, twisting trail through sparse trees and a tunnel.
If your family feels comfortable and in control in either of these learning areas, you are ready to take on the mountain!
On the Mountain
Your first stop as a family will be Schoolmarm, Keystone’s premiere green trail with family specific ski zones. Schoolmarm is a 3.5-mile green zone ski trail, running from the top of Dercum Mountain to both River Run and Mountain House Base Areas. Schoolmarm has it all; rolling hills, challenging pitches, gentle cat walks and kid adventures zones.
Families please note: Schoolmarm is the longest run on Dercum Mountain and is steeper in grade than the learning areas. If your children are challenged in the learning areas, Schoolmarm may be above their abilities.
Once Schoolmarm has been mastered, Silver Spoon is another lengthy green trail that provides ample rolling hills to practice on. Shorter in length, Freda’s is a fun green trail, off-shoot on Schoolmarm, sometimes offering an experience in un-groomed terrain. If your family is rocking all the greens, Spring Dipper is a mild blue trail with a few rolling hills and one steeper face halfway through the trail.
Kids’ Adventure Zones
Photo: Keystone Resort
Designed for challenging speed control and having fun, Kids’ Adventure Zones at Keystone are short, thrilling excursions.
Named in honor of Vail Resorts’ mascot, Ripperoo’s Glades and Forest are fun adventures through the trees. Ripperoo’s Glades offers green zone tree skiing through an aspen grove, with a wide cat track through the center. Following this, Riperoo’s Forest twists and turns through the trees leading up to Ripperoo’s house and igloo.
On skier’s right at the top of blue trail Hoodoo, The Lost Mine is a winding trip through two tunnels. If your family is skiing blue terrain, take both tunnels back to Hoodoo. If everyone is sticking to greens, pop in one tunnel then ski back onto Silver Spoon.
Lastly, H&H Mining Camp is popular spot for more advanced skiing families. Hidden in the trees off Santa Fe, H&H Mining Camp is a series of bridges and tunnels that leads back to Spring Dipper. This dipping and diving experience has the whole family zipping through turns and trees.
Off the mountain
A day off the trails doesn’t mean the fun has to stop. Head to Keystone’s Kidtopia Headquarters, a family-friendly experience offering a range of experiences and continuing education activities on a daily basis. Located at the Dercum Plaza Ice Rink in River Run Base, Kidtopia offers arts and crafts, snowball making and sledding events, meet and greets with Ski Patrol’s rescue Dogs, cookie decorating and much more. All families and ages welcome! For night owls, Kidtopia’s Bigfoot Adventure Walks will have the whole family searching for Bigfoot under the starry skies.
There is no shortage of fun off-hill activities for families at Keystone Resort. At the top of Dercum Mountain, there is snow tubing at Adventure Point and the world’s largest Snow Fort. At the Lakeside Village and in Dercum Plaza, there is family ice skating and hockey. Additionally, the Nordic Center offers “old-fashioned” family tubing, cross-country skiing and snow shoeing.
I am a designer / marketer / ski instructor currently based in Summit County, CO. I design and write for print and web, working across a range of disciplines including user experience, layout and branding. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science, specializing in Advertising, from Boston University’s College of Communication in 2013. I have since worked in numerous communication environments, from internal and b2b marketing to creative departments and freelance design. Additionally, I have experience with social media, blogging, strategy, research and broken ski bindings.