Keystone ski area

Keystone ski area Colorado
Keystone offers 135 trails for skiers of all abilities. | Photo by Richard Johnson /

Staff writer

The Keystone Ski Resort is the largest of the five Summit County ski areas, with 3,148 acres of skiable terrain across three mountains and deep powder in bowls on three others, including the namesake Keystone Peak (12,408 feet). Keystone is 75 miles west of Denver and eight miles off Interstate 70.

Keystone also offers the largest night skiing operation in Colorado, with nine trails and a section of the terrain park on Dercum Mountain lit by large floodlights until as late as 9 p.m.

Keystone has 135 trails, with 19 percent rated beginner, 32 percent intermediate and 49 percent expert or advanced. There are 20 lifts, including a gondola, with a capacity of 35,000 riders an hour.

The ski area gets an average of 235 inches of snow a year, supplemented by snowmaking on 684 acres, The ski season runs from early November to early April.

Keystone’s base is at 9,280 feet, and the back bowls top out at Keystone Peak, giving the ski area 3,128 vertical feet of elevation.

Beginners should head to Dercum Mountain and take advantage of 3 1/2-mile Schoolmarm, the longest run at Keystone, as well as the adjacent Silverspoon and Schoolmaster. For first-timers, there are two learning areas, one at the top of the mountain and one at the base. Advanced beginners can take a run down Spring Dipper, which starts with a short intermediate stretch, then turns into a beginner trail.

Dercum Mountain also is a good spot for intermediates, with plenty of good options around the Montezuma lift, notably Paymaster, Wild Irishman, Frenchman and Flying Dutchman. Intermediates also can head down the back side of Dercum on the Mozart trail for access to North Peak and The Outback. The Prospector and Last Alamo trails come off North Peak and feed into Mozart. For something more challenging, head down Star Fire, Anticipation or Spillway, which lead to The Outback and a series of intermediate runs near the Outback lift. The Outback is Keystone’s tallest mountain, at 11,980 feet.

For experts, Keystone doesn’t offer double-diamond runs but does have single diamonds on trails, glades and open bowls. For glades and massive bumps, experts can head to The Outback and check out Timberwolf, Bushwacker, Badger and The Grizz. From the top of the Outback lift, it’s a 10-minute hike to two bowls with black diamond runs that are still in-bounds terrain. North Peak isn’t as challenging but offers bump runs in Ambush and Powder Cap and skiing through the trees under the Santiago lift or in the Bullet Glades. It’s a short hike from the top of North Peak to the Windows, which offer tree skiing down Black Jack, Roulette and other runs. The backcountry bowls also can be reached via snowcats operated by Keystone Adventure Tours, which offers all-day trips by reservation and single rides.

The highly rated A51 Terrain Park has rails, jumps and funboxes, with separate areas for beginners, intermediates and experts and a dedicated A-51 lift on one side of Dercum Mountain. The expert area also has an 18-foot superpipe. It’s also the only terrain park that runs at night.

In addition, there is the Adventure Point tubing hill on the summit of Dercum Mountain and the 7,200-square-foot Dercum Square Ice Rink at the base of the mountain. Both are open at night and lighted.

Keystone was founded in 1970 by Max Dercum and his wife, Edna, and shaped by Bill Bergman, the resort’s first president. Today, it is owned by Vail Resorts, which also owns the Vail, Beaver Creek and Breckenridge ski areas.

Keystone Ski Resort
60 Oro Grande Road
Keystone, CO 80435
(970) 496-4000