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Keystone Ski Resort Guide

Keystone, United States

Rated: 4/5 (from 6 ratings)

Ski Area Highlights
Recommended ForExpert Skiers, Intermediates, Beginners, Snowboarders, Snowfall and Apres-Ski!
Highest Lift3,720m
Resort Height2,850m
 Nearest AirportsVail/Eagle and Denver International
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Under same ownership as Breckenridge and aquired in 1997 by Vail Resorts INC., Keystone has the largest night-skiing operation in Colorado and North America's biggest ice rink (five acres).


The American ski resort of Keystone is in the American Rockies at an altitude of 2,850m.

Keystone has direct access to 116 marked pistes, served by a total of 22 ski lifts.

The ski resort itself is at 2,850m, so skiing or boarding back to the resort is usually possible. With ski lifts as high as 3,720m, skiing and snowboarding is assured throughout the season.

Snow and Weather

When will it snow in Keystone?

The next notable snow forecast is 2cm, expected on 1 October.

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Snow this week

Snow Forecast by day for Keystone

Ski Area Stats

Keystone Ski Area

Piste and Lift Stats
Number of runs
Cross Country
Total Length
Ski Lifts
Number of Lifts


Keystone Ski Area Heights

Lift Heights and Resort Altitude
Highest Lift3,720m
Resort Altitude (Keystone)2,850m
Lowest Piste2,840m
Max Vertical880m

Ratings & Suitability

Ratings for Keystone
Expert Skiers
Intermediate Skiers

Keystone Overview

Under the same ownership as Breckenridge and acquired in 1997 by Vail Resorts Inc., Keystone's numerous claims to fame include the largest night-skiing operation in Colorado and North America's biggest ice rink (five acres).

The resort's ski area is relatively unusual, resembling Les Deux Alpes in France, in that the trails and mountains stack out in a line behind the resort itself, rather than following the more common model of running side-by-side above the resort valley. The mountains become slightly higher and slightly steeper the further back you go, creating Keystone's heavily promoted 'Outback' area beneath Outback Peak, the third and furthest mountain from the resort base. Here you will find the above treeline open bowl skiing that has become a requirement of all major Western US ski areas, as well as the equally obligatory tree skiing. In common with most of the resorts in the area Keystone's history is relatively short with the familiar meteoric rise to fame of neighbours such as Copper Mountain and Vail.

Keystone opened in 1970 with three lifts and a $5 lift ticket attracting 75,000 visitors in its first season. After purchase by a St Louis based company in 1978 the resort acquired neighbour Arapahoe Basin in 1978, at the time allowing it to claim the highest lift-served terrain in the US. Although Arapahoe Basin has been knocked down to third place in the 'highest lifts' league of the US, and is no longer owned by Keystone since the Vail purchase, it is still on a joint lift ticket which also includes other Vail resorts including Breckenridge and Beaver Creek. The Ski The Summit Pass, which was for most of the '90s one of the very few multi-area passes in North America and included Copper Mountain, no longer exists however.

The resort had the biggest terrain expansion in the US for ten years in 1984 when it opened its second mountain, North Peak, adding night skiing the following year. The Outback, the resort's third mountain, was opened as part of a $32 million expansion in 1990. The following year the Alpenglow Stube restaurant, the highest gourmet restaurant in North America, opened.

The other two major events of the 1990s were the announcement of plans to build a $400 million base village in conjunction with Intrawest in 1994 (this has subsequently grown in to a 15 year $1 billion redevelopment plan) and the purchase by Vail in 1997. The on-going spending means that visitors see dramatic change and new dining, lodging and shopping options every season should they choose to visit regularly, and will continue to do so at least until the current plan is completed in 2009.

 Notable Ski Runs

The most difficult run is the 'The Grizz'.


Keystone's three mountains extend back from the resort in to the Arapaho National Forest; this is one of North America's and the world's highest ski areas. The ski area is also one of the largest in the US thanks to the introduction of a kat skiing operation that has expanded the available terrain from around 1,800 acres to more than 3,100.

The kat skiing accesses three bowls - Erickson, Bergman and Independence Bowl (added for 2007-8). The kats serve virgin powder terrain and for the best skiers can provide up to 10 ascents on a half-day session at high value prices.

Back on the regular slopes, the most developed section of the lift-serviced ski area is the original front face of Dercum mountain which is largely floodlit for night skiing and contains the snowboarding terrain park as well as the beginner terrain. There are more than 50 forgiving runs on this part of the mountain alone, including Keystone's longest, Schoolmarm, at 5km (3 miles).

Beginners may cut their first turns on the Discovery beginner slope under the watchful eyes of one of the ski school's special trainers. As you get further away from the resort base the terrain gets a little more challenging. The Santiago quad accesses some of North America's best mogul/bump skiing.

The terrain becomes more isolated and challenging venturing beyond the reach of the gondolas to the Outback area for Keystone's above treeline South and North bowls skiing as well as black diamond gladed runs Timberwolf, Bushwacker, Badger and The Grizz. 51% of the resort's terrain is graded advanced or expert. For fine tuning your technique, private lessons are available and skiing clinics hosted by pros like the Mahre brothers, as well as special women only clinics.

Of course most visitors will want to make use of the Vail resort's multi-area pass and ski at Vail, Beaver Creek and Breckenridge if they're making a stay of a week or more. The pass also covers Arapahoe Basin, linked with a free shuttle bus along with Breckenridge.

Now for the 2008/2009 season get the Epic Pass. This provides unlimited skiing in Vail, Breckenridge Beaver Creek and Heavenly for $579. http://snow.com/epicpass/

There are a variety of pistes to suit all levels of skier ability, from Beginner to Expert.


Keystone's natural terrain includes Dercum Mountain for groomed beginner trails, North Peak for tree 'boarding and bumps and The Outback for powder stashes and gladed terrain. In general, the terrain design has few flats and uplift is provided by chairs and gondolas, more than a third of the 20 lifts are either high speed quad or cabin lifts. The resort's 20 acre Terrain Park on Keystone Mountain is illuminated for night riding. Dubbed Area 51, it features table tops, hips, spines, gaps and rails.

Located in Packsaddle bowl, the park features two half pipes, one designed for beginners, the other goes beyond Olympic spec to maximise big air opportunities. A second terrain park has been created on the Jackwhacker intermediate-advanced trail. The run has been regraded to offer riders a more challenging vertical. The trail features table tops, hips, spines and other jumps of various sizes.

Location and Map

Where is Keystone?

This ski resort is in the American Rockies in Kane, Benton.


Tap Show Map in Full Screen for Full-Screen, or see J2Ski's Resort map, showing Hotels and Ski Shops.

How to get there

 By Air

The nearest airport to Keystone is Vail/Eagle, 80 minutes drive away.

Denver International, Steamboat Springs, Yampa Valley, Aspen and Colorado Springs airports are all within three hours drive.


Ski Lift Capacity

The 22 ski lifts are able to uplift 27,273 skiers and snowboarders every hour.

Snow Making

Snow-making is available, with 189 snow cannons.

Season Dates

When is Keystone open?

We don't currently have confirmed season dates, but hope to soon.

Usual opening is late November, and usual closing is Late April.

NOTE:- Ski area, lift and piste opening is subject to Current Snow Conditions.

COVID-19 / Coronavirus

We don't yet have specific details of the COVID-19 precautions being taken in Keystone, but they are likely to include most of the following :-

  • Face masks required on lifts, and in shops.
  • Social distancing in public areas.
  • Reduced lift capacity.
  • Extensive disinfection / sanitization.

French Ski Resort COVID-19 Measures describes further measures that may also be applied.

Visit the Keystone Tourist Office for the latest.

Talking about Keystone

Mentions in recent J2Ski News Items and Snow Reports from our users...

Aprés Ski

There are a number of après ski venues around Keystone and, with the masters of resort design, Intrawest, adding new facilities to the expanding resort base neighbourhoods, the social scene at the resort is constantly improving. The River Run base is perhaps the liveliest spot where the Kickapoo tavern and the great Northern Tavern do battle to provide the best selection of local microbrews. The deck at the Kickapoo is particularly popular when the lifts close.

Apart from eating, drinking and dining, evening choices include the biggest night skiing operation in the area, the biggest ice skating lake in North America, full moon hiking and cross country ski excursions, sleigh rides and the new Adventure Point fun park for night time tubing antics.

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