Being so close to our home base of Breckenridge, Keystone Resort has always been on our radar, specifically because of its reputation as being family-centric. Even the parking is geared towards “family,” with larger groups getting front row spots and approximately 150 red wagons available for easier transport of gear (and tired children) to and from the slopes. This, our first visit, was all about the young ‘uns, making sure The Little Worker and Munchkin had as much fun as possible, while also not forgetting about Gaigai and Tazer – we didn’t need to worry, Keystone has the whole family covered.
The facts: 3,148 – acres of skiable terrain, with 3,128 feet of vertical drop and 20 chairlifts for easy access. There is a natural front-to-back sequence of Keystone’s terrain, with three peaks stacked in front of one-another, progressively getting more difficult as you head away from the main base area. While we stuck mostly to the Beginner and Intermediate runs, there is plenty of challenging terrain for the kids to progress into. Something I didn’t know about Keystone is that there is cat skiing in the bowls – for $5, catch a cat ride up to the top and save your legs from the hike up. We are definitely trying that next year!
Photo Credit: Jack Affleck/Keystone Resort
We spent most of the day on the Family Ski Trail: the Rockin’ Rollers, Magic Moguls, and Tornado Alley gave us some thrills without having to enter the expert terrain park (though it was fun to watch the more daring from the lift). The SchoolYard is an area for the whole family to take their skiing and riding to the next level and also a chance to ski with Riperoo, which is Vail Resorts mascot for the kids. With each successive lap, the kids got more daring, which worked exactly as the designers planned.
Laima spent the day with Little Worker, attending a half day private ski lesson, in the hopes that we could get him to ski. He was having none of it in Breckenridge, but the Keystone folks assured us they could do it (there IS a friendly rivalry between the two neighbor resorts). Spoiler alert: he loved it and was on skis that day, progressing quickly. Read about Laima’s experience over at Women’s Endurance Gear.
Beyond skiing, there are plenty of activities and events to keep the kids occupied. Ours loved the World’s Largest Snowfort at the top of the Gondola, which sits next to the highest tubing facility in the world (we didn’t partake). Down at the base, there is ice-skating on the largest Zamboni maintained rink in North America (and also a smaller rink). There’s also night skiing if they just won’t quit. Also new this season, Kidtopia opened a weatherproof family entertainment options at the new Kidtopia Headquarters indoors.
If you’re staying two or more nights in one of Keystone’s numerous accommodation then all season, every day, children 12 and under ski free at Keystone. There are no blackout dates, not even weekends and holidays.
End the day as we did, with M+M cookies at the Dercum Square Ice Skating Rink in River Run Village – there’s also a playground if the kids have any energy left and the weather cooperates.
If you plan on skiing any of the Vail Resorts next season, the Epic Pass is now on sale for the 2014-15 season, and pays for itself in just under 4 days. We chose the Epic Local Pass, because it includes the 2 Midwest resorts Mt. Brighton and Afton alps, our home base Breckenridge, our new fave Keystone, as well as Beaver Creek, which we hope to check out next season. Check the Epic Pass site for their $49 down option, which gives you the entire summer to save up to pay off the balance. Great deal, but it won’t last much longer!
Disclaimer: A lift pass and half day ski school were provided for review purposes – all opinions are my own.
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