Planning A Ski Trip Vacation To Keystone: Resorts, Costs, Clothes And Weather

Keystone Resort in Colorado has grown into one of the world's premier skiing destinations. Its close proximity to other mountains is a major plus.

Before first visiting Keystone, Colorado some fifteen years ago, I had already heard good things about it (Keystone was founded in 1970), even then it was reputed to be huge. Today the mountain offers the avid skier plenty of terrain and some of the longest runs around; it also offers some things it didn't fifteen years ago.

Back then, you parked your car right up against the mountain, there was no village to speak of. But in the past ten years, Keystone Village has grown by leaps and bounds, and it presently boasts an abundance of accommodations, restaurants, and shops. While you might now have to walk a little further from the lot (there are free buses available too), it is well worth the extra effort.

Today, Keystone Resort spans seven miles and comprises three peaks - Dercum Mountain, North Peak, and The Outback - with some 2,870 acres of skiable terrain and 3,128 vertical feet of fresh powder (one hopes). Getting up the mountain is easier and faster than ever on any of nineteen lifts, which include two gondolas, one "express six-pack," and five high-speed quads.

Keystone Mountain includes just about every type of skiing one could want: trees, bowls, groomers, steeps, greens (easy runs), bumps, a terrain park especially popular with snowboarders, and night skiing. In fact, if you were planning a trip and had only one mountain to ski, Keystone would be a great choice. There is even daycare and a ski school starting as early as three years. Other activities in and around Keystone include snowmobiling, heli-skiing, wine tasting, sleigh rides, and ice skating.

If you have a little more time, you'll probably want to check out some of the other nearby mountains as well. Breckenridge, Copper, and Arapahoe Basin are all close by, and Vail and Beaver Creek are just a bit further down the road (I70). In other words, Keystone is relatively central in its location. It is a good jumping off point to other mountains; it is also self-contained, so if you prefer to stay in one spot, it's a good place to be. Getting to Keystone is fairly straightforward. You'll probably be flying into Denver International (a 90 mile drive) or Vail/Eagle County (a 65 mile drive). If you are renting an automobile (a good idea if you are planning to ski other mountains), you'll be able to procure a map and directions from the rental company; if you are taking the bus, then you needn't worry as the driver will take you right to your destination.

There are many options for accommodations in and around Keystone and prices vary considerably depending upon time of year, when you book, the number in your party, exact location, and whether you plan to rent a hotel room, condo, or private residence. The important thing is to do some research. As always, the internet affords you the opportunity to look around before making a decision. Keystone's website features a lodging map to help you determine what will be appropriate accommodations for you at the resort.

Ticket prices also vary and are subject to change depending on the season. In general, the Christmas Holiday season is the most expensive, and the Pre-Thanksgiving season and Late Season (beginning in early April) are the least. Discounts are available when you purchase multi-day tickets in advance online. You can also get discount tickets at various ski shops located in towns outside the Ski Mountains. For all deals, be they airline, hotel, ski tickets, car rental or for anything else, it behooves you to shop around.

When heading to the Rockies, it is wise to remember to bring a few important ski-trip items. In addition to your skis or snowboard remember to bring a good shell to keep the wind from breezing through to your core (where you may lose a lot of warmth); dress in layers so that you'll be able to shed clothing if you become too warm; bring a ski hat or at least a headband to keep your ears from freezing off; sunglasses and goggles are a must (if you can only bring one or the other, bring goggles - you'll be glad you did); finally, don't forget sunscreen and spf-rated lip balm.

In my many trips to Keystone specifically and Colorado generally, I have experienced conditions ranging from fair to excellent. Maybe I've just been lucky, but for the most part, the snow has been great and the weather sunny and warm even in January. However, it is advisable to be prepared for the worst. If you anticipate the possibility of cold weather, dress in layers, and plan your trip with care. You are very likely to have a great time during your vacation at one of the world's premier skiing destinations.

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