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A Ski & Snowboard Guide to Keystone

Breckenridge Ski & Sport > A Ski & Snowboard Guide to Keystone

Everything you need to know about skiing and staying at Keystone

Only about 35 minutes from Breckenridge, Keystone Ski Resort is one of Summit County’s premier ski and snowboard destinations. Known for its extensive terrain, family-friendly atmosphere, and diverse recreational offerings, Keystone attracts visitors seeking a memorable mountain experience. Keystone boasts three distinct peaks: Dercum Mountain, North Peak, and The Outback. Each peak offers a range of terrain suitable for all skill levels, from gentle slopes for beginners to challenging runs for experts.

The resort spans over 3,000 acres, making it one of the largest ski areas in Colorado. This vast terrain includes groomed slopes, glades, bowls, and challenging steeps.

 
Keystone Fast Facts
  • Lifts are open 9 AM – 4 PM
  • 3,149 acres of terrain
  • Peak elevation of 12,408 feet
  • 20 lifts
  • 139 trails
  • Average snowfall of 235 in. per year
  • Other activities: the world’s largest snow fort! tubing, sleigh rides, ice skating, spa, and more

Get info on Keystone’s

Climate  •  Runs  •  Terrain  •  Lodging
Fireworks in Keystone Colorado

Overview of Keystone Ski Resort

Keystone Ski Resort, also located in Summit County, Colorado, is only about 15 miles from Breckenridge, making it easy to visit both resorts in one trip. Keystone is approximately 75 miles west of downtown Denver, with a drive of around 1.5 hours, making it easily accessible for day trips or weekend getaways.

Keystone is Summit County’s largest ski resort, and with three interconnected mountain peaks, the ski area caters to skiers and riders of all skill levels:

Dercum Mountain — This is the front-side mountain and is ideal for beginners and intermediate skiers and riders. It features well-groomed slopes, and beginners can find excellent learning terrain here. The front-side also includes the Schoolmarm trail, one of the longest green runs in Colorado.

North Peak — Geared toward intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders, North Peak offers a mix of groomed runs and challenging terrain. The new Bergman Express lift provides access to the Bergman Bowl on Keystone Peak. 

The Outback — Known for its expansive, ungroomed terrain, The Outback is a haven for advanced and expert skiers seeking powder and challenging runs. It is also where you’ll find some of Keystone’s famous tree skiing.

The history of Keystone resort harkens back to 1970 and its conception by Max Dercum, an Austrian immigrant and ski enthusiast, along with his wife Edna. Supported by a group of investors, they purchased a large tract of land in the Snake River Valley of the White River National Forest. Chosen for its abundant snowfall, Keystone Resort officially opened for skiing on November 21, 1970 when a lift ticket cost $5. 

Keystone soon also gained recognition for pioneering night skiing in Colorado. In 1985, the resort introduced lighting systems on a portion of its slopes, allowing enthusiasts to enjoy skiing and snowboarding even after sunset. Today, Keystone is renowned for being one of the few resorts in Colorado that offers night skiing.

The resort changed hands through several owners, with the resort eventually becoming part of Vail Resorts, a major player in the ski industry, known for its portfolio of world-class mountain resorts.

Keystone is also well known for its A51 terrain park. This park includes 60 acres with a plethora of unique and exciting features, so beginners have the chance to advance, while more skilled skiers and riders can send it to the fullest.

In the 2023/24 season, Keystone will also be debuting the Bergman Express lift, a 6 person lift providing access to the Bergan and Erickson Bowls for some of the highest alpine runs available at the resort. This will allow access to 16 new trails and over 500 acres of terrain, including areas that had previously only been open for hike-to-bowl access; this opens up skiing and riding at both  intermediate and advanced high alpine areas.

With five different lifts, Copper Mountain officially opened to the public in 1972. Over the years, the resort underwent significant expansion and development, including the addition of new ski terrain, lodging, and recreational facilities.

Red fox in Keystone Colorado

Know Before You Go

Climate

Keystone is generally open from November through April.  Average winter temperatures can vary but generally range from 15°F to 35°F. Be sure to keep an eye on Keystone weather and conditions before your ski trip.

Keystone ski resort receives an average annual snowfall of approximately 198 inches and 64 days of snowfall. March tends to reap the most snowfall, with December and January also receiving larger amounts of snow.

Read more on winter conditions at Keystone ski area.

Lift Times

  • Lifts at Keystone ski resort either run from 8 AM or 9 AM to between 3 PM and 4 PM with a few exceptions.
  • Experience night skiing at Keystone from the River Run base area until 7 PM.

Be sure to check Keystone lift times and status, especially earlier in the season when fewer lifts and trails may be open.

Lift Tickets

  • Keystone offers several options for lift tickets.
    • Epic Pass holders have guaranteed access to Keystone Resort. Epic offers several pass options including unlimited, local (excludes peak dates), and day pass or multi day pass options. Epic also hosts the Keystone Plus Pass with unlimited access to Keystone with restricted access at several other resorts.
    • For those looking for Keystone day pass options, the ski resort offers both Epic day passes and Keystone specific day passes.
    • Tickets can also be purchased solely for night skiing at Keystone.

    Make sure you purchase your lift tickets as soon as you know your travel dates, as lift tickets may sell out or be much more expensive. Vail Resorts, which owns Keystone, Vail, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, and Crested Butte has said they are limiting lift ticket sales to offer an optimum experience for all skiers and riders.

Ski & Snowboard Rentals

Breckenridge Ski & Sport is conveniently located just a brief 15 to 20-minute drive away from Keystone Resort and offers a comprehensive range of ski and snowboard rental options suitable for individuals at every skill level, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced skier or rider. All ski and snowboard packages include boots, skis/snowboard, bindings, poles, and a helmet for your safety and enjoyment.

Explore our diverse fleet of skis featuring Sport and Performance skis from HEAD, perfect for both beginner and intermediate riders. If you’re an advanced skier seeking top-tier options, our demo fleet  showcases several models from Salomon, Rossignol, and HEAD.

For snowboard enthusiasts, we provide Performance HEAD Snowboards tailored to the needs of both beginner and intermediate riders. Those looking for the latest in advanced snowboarding can choose from our demo boards, including top-notch options from Salomon and Ride.

Getting to Keystone

From Denver, take I-70 West toward Grand Junction. You will travel on I-70 for about 65 miles, passing through the Eisenhower Tunnel. Then, take exit 205 for Silverthorne/Dillon and merge onto Highway 6 East. Follow the signs to Keystone Resort, which is located in Summit County.

From Breckenridge, take Highway 9 North. Connect to I-70 East and continue for approximately 12 miles. Take Exit 205 for Silverthorne/Dillon and merge onto Highway 6 East. Follow the signs to Keystone Resort.

For those arriving at Denver International Airport (DIA) seeking convenient transportation to Keystone ski resort, an airport shuttle is a highly recommended option. We suggest Peak 1 Express, a reputable local shuttle service providing direct transportation between DIA and Keystone. This reliable service allows riders to reach their Keystone lodging directly and quickly.

On-Site Transportation & Parking

  • Free parking in the River Run Gondola, Mountain House East D, Mountain House E lots. These may fill up quickly, especially on weekends and holidays.
  • Paid parking for $15 to $25 per day in the Mountain House West A and B lots. 
  • Overnight parking costs $25 in all lots.
  • Overflow parking in the North Shuttle and Powerline lots with free shuttles to the mountain base

Ski & Snowboard Runs At Keystone

Beginner “Green” Runs

12% of Keystone ski resort’s 139 trails represents beginner terrain, with two specific learning areas at the the top of Dercum Mountain and at the mountain base. These areas are designated as “slow skiing” areas and are well suited for beginners. The short Ranger lift at the top of Dercum Mountain carries skiers and riders to the top of the learning area, and the Discover Lift at the base near Mountain house does the same. Beginners can also access green trails from the Montezuma Express and Ruby Express.

Beginner Runs

  • Schoolmarm — Schoolmarm is one of the longest green runs in Colorado, making it an excellent choice for beginners. It runs from the top of Dercum Mountain down to the base area. Accessed by the Montezuma Express or Ruby Express lifts, this run offers a gradual descent with wide turns. This trail is perfect for building confidence and improving skills.
  • Silver Spoon — Also found on Dercum Mountain, this beginner-friendly trail offers a smooth and gradual descent, allowing newcomers to build confidence and hone their skills. The trail is well-marked, making it easy for beginners to navigate, as well as in close proximity to learning areas and the ski school.
  • Ten Mile — The Ten Mile trail, beginning from the Bergman Bowl, offers a gentle descent with picturesque mountain views. Accessible from the Bergman-Express lift, it provides a seamless entry point for beginners looking to enjoy a smooth run and leads into the Quandary and Lower Prospector green runs on North Peak for a long, beginner-friendly descent.
  • Lower Prospector — This run is accessible from the blue Prospector run and the Santiago Express lift or the Outpost Gondola. This run is ideal for slightly more advanced beginners to improve their skills by connecting the blue Prospector to the green Lower prospector in a wide and gentle trail.

Intermediate “Blue” Runs

Intermediate terrain at Keystone makes up 39% of Keystone’s trail system. Keystone’s blue runs are spread out across the resort and its three mountains. On Dercum mountain, the River Run Gondola and Ruby Express lift provide access to blue runs, with Outback Mountain offering a more advanced intermediate experience and Bergman Bowl showcasing fun trails to explore Keystone’s high alpine terrain.

Intermediate Runs

  • Dercum Mountain’s West Trails — Spring Dipper, Santa Fe, Whipsaw, Flying Dutchman, Jacques St. James, Grass Cut, and Missouri connect on the western side of Dercum mountain in a network of blue runs. These are accessible by the River Run Gondola and offer intermediate skiers the opportunity to fly down wider cruisers.
  • Mozart — From the top of Dercum Mountain and accessible by the Ruby Express lift, the Mozart trail offers a long trail for skiers seeking wider turns and moderate pitches. This makes it an ideal choice for those advancing from beginner slopes, especially as it connects to the green Lower Prospector trail.
  • Bergman Bowl trails — the new Bergman Express lift provides access to the high alpine terrain of the Bergman Bowl, including a selection of captivating blue runs. This area on Keystone Peak includes, Gray’s, Torrey’s, Red, Buffalo, Ute, and Wichita and offers a mix of groomed slopes and gladed areas, as well as the opportunity to navigate through open terrain with varied pitches.
  • The Outback trails — Keystone Resort’s Outback Mountain, accessible via the Outback Express lift, features a range of blue runs for intermediate skiers seeking a more adventurous experience and looking to level up their skills. These include Oh, Bob, Elk-Run, Bighorn, and Porcupine. Surrounded by black trails, these runs afford more advanced intermediate skiers an extra challenge.

Expert “Black Diamond” Runs

The majority of Keystone’s terrain is advanced, with  49% of trails falling into this category. North Peak hosts several steep moguls, while the most advanced runs can be found on The Outback mountain, accessed by the Outback-Express lift. The Independence Bowl, Erickson Bowl, North Bowl, and South Bowl also offer expert skiing and riding options, with access often limited to hiking.

Advanced & Expert Runs

  • The Outback runs — Keystone Resort’s Outback mountain presents advanced skiers with an exhilarating array of challenging runs. These include The Grizz and Timberwolf, steep glade areas, and Wolverine, Wildfire, and Pika, glades with minimal markings, that allow expert skiers to explore more freely. These can be accessed from the Outback-Express lift or higher up from Wapiti Peak.
  • Independence Bowl —  Independence Bowl at Keystone Resort is an expert-level area known for its vast and challenging terrain. Independence Bowl is favored for its deep powder runs, challenging moguls, and the thrilling sense of freedom it provides to expert skiers seeking a backcountry-like experience within the resort.These runs are hike-to-terrain only with about a 1.5 mile trek involved.
  • North Peak runs — Keystone’s North Peak boasts a collection of expert runs that cater to the most advanced skiers seeking challenging terrain. Starfire, with its steep pitch and tight turns, offers an exhilarating descent through glades and moguls. Wildfire, another expert run, stands out for its demanding moguls and technical precision required for a thrilling skiing experience, while Cat Dancer is known as an ultimately bumpy run.
  • North & South Bowl — Keystone Resort’s North and South Bowls provide expert skiers with a challenging and diverse playground. These bowls offer steep pitches, variable snow conditions, and a thrilling descent through expert-level terrain. From challenging moguls to open spaces with varying snow textures, the North and South Bowls demand technical skill and precision.

 Terrain Park

A51, Keystone’s terrain park, is recognized as one of North America’s best terrain parks. Located on Dercum Mountain and including 96 acres, the terrain park is easily accessible and offers progressive terrain for beginner through advanced skiers and riders. Incubator, the beginner section, hosts smaller jumps and wider box, while Park Lane, The Alley, and I-70 increase the excitement with progressively more difficult jumps. The most difficult section, Main Street, has been utilized by professional skiers and riders to hone their skills.

  Lesson Opportunities

For individuals eager to develop their skills or for beginners new to their snow sports journey, Keystone ski resort provides both private and group lessons suitable for kids, adults, and entire families.

Keystone Lodging & Vacation Rentals

Keystone Resort offers a diverse range of lodging options to suit the preferences and needs of different visitors.

 

Slope-side Condos and Townhomes

Slope-side condos and townhomes at Keystone provide a convenient and immersive mountain experience for visitors seeking easy access to the slopes. These units vary in size, from cozy one-bedroom condos to spacious townhomes that can accommodate larger groups. The Springs, for example, is a family-friendly slope-side condos with a heated outdoor pool and hot tubs, located in River Run Village with direct access to the slopes.

Hotel Accommodations

Keystone features a variety of hotels ranging from luxury options to more budget-friendly choices. These hotels often provide convenient amenities, such as on-site dining, fitness centers, and easy access to the resort’s activities. Keystone Lodge & Spa offers a luxurious hotel experience, where guests can enjoy a spa and on-site dining.

Private Vacation Rentals

Condominiums and vacation rentals are popular choices for families and larger groups. These accommodations typically offer more space, kitchens, and living areas, providing a home-away-from-home experience. Situated in the heart of the resort, River Run Condominiums offer convenient access to the slopes and the lively village. 

Ski-in/Ski-out Accommodations

For the ultimate convenience, visitors can choose ski-in/ski-out lodging options, allowing direct access to the slopes. Timber Trail Lodge, near the River Run Gondola, provides ski-in/ski-out townhomes. These spacious and modern townhomes offer direct access to the slopes, making it convenient for those looking to maximize their time on the mountain.

Cabin in Keystone Colorado

Keystone Shopping & Dining

Breckenridge Ski and Sport rental shop

Retail Shops

 
Breckenridge Ski & Sport

Breckenridge Ski & Sport stands out as Summit County’s preferred ski and board rental shop. With rentals for beginner through advanced skiers and riders, our shop offers gear rentals suitable for the entire family, with all winter packages including poles and a helmet. Secure a 30% discount by booking your rentals online and enjoy quick gear pickup on your way to Keystone ski resort.

Surefoot

Surefoot, located in the River Run Village, offers customized ski boot fitting, so you can send it comfortably all day long. This shop specializes in assuring alignment and fit are tailored to each customer, with a focus on warmth, comfort, and style. 

Cures ‘n Curiosities

As its name suggests, Cures ‘n Curiosities hosts a little bit of everything for those looking to pick up trinkets or gifts during their time in Keystone. Visitors can pick up souvenirs, t-shirts, snacks, and even some groceries during their time in River Run Village.

Sun & Ski Sports

In nearby Dillon, Sun & Ski Sports provides snow sport, cycling, skating, running, watersport, and camping gear, specializing in quality outdoor gear for every sport enthusiasts. Here, you can purchase ski and snowboards, along with other gear and winter apparel.

Dining Options in Keystone

Keystone Restaurants and Apres-Ski Spots.

Labonte’s Cabin

At the base of North Peak, Labonte’s Cabin hosts a ski up beach, perfect for taking a break during a long day of skiing or riding. This restaurant and apres spot specializes in barbeque, chili, and other sides. 

The Ranch

The Ranch offers a rustic style, fine dining experience with opportunities for fireside seating. The steakhouse’s menu includes hearty soups and salads, alongside meat dishes.

Last Lift Bar

The Last Lift Bar is located at Keystone ski resort’s Mountain House base area and specializes in all day apres. This bar offers drinks and music, with unique cocktail options.

Coffee Corner

Located within Mountain House Lodge, Coffee Corner provides an early morning boost for your slopeside adventure. Grab your coffee and a to-go breakfast, and beat the crowds to the lifts.

Go Big Burger

Also within Mountain House Lodge, Go Big Burger offers classic burgers, alongside more specialty options. Fuel up before your ski day or recover after with a delicious burger, fries, onion rings, and other sides.

Eating in Keystone Colorado