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Keystone Resort, Colorado

Keystone is a big, purpose-built resort that is praised for its family-friendly atmosphere. It also has extensive night skiing for those who can’t get enough during the daylight hours.

If you’re looking for that quaint 19th-century Victorian mining-town charm for which Colorado’s known, you won’t find it at Keystone. But if you’re looking for a smoothly humming resort with buses shuttling to every corner, a child-friendly atmosphere and one of the Rockies’ largest snowmaking systems, you’ll be pleased as pie.

The resort makes every effort to ensure memorable family vacations with good customer service and easy planning for parents and kids. Everyone here is friendly, friendly, friendly. Keystone is known as a superb intermediate playground, but it has decent terrain at either end of the ability scale. There aren’t many surprises here and it’s hard to get in over your head. Another attraction is Keystone’s extensive night skiing, which means you don’t have to get up early to get in a lot of vertical. A neat ecological fact: Keystone uses wind power to light the trails and run the lifts at night.

For skiers and riders who feel uncomfortable in ungroomed snow, Keystone makes concerted efforts to keep its slopes baby-butt smooth. Staggering the opening of groomed runs is one way they manage this. Another is their new state-of-the-art high-tech snowmaking machine by York which produces man-made snow that comes closer to the natural thing than any other system in the country. This should alleviate a common gripe that all the snowmaking and grooming sometimes makes trails a bit slick. Keystone often doesn’t get the natural snow its neighboring resorts do, so snowmaking on its lowest peak is a real plus. And with more than 1 million skier visits each year, good grooming minimizes the effects of all that skier traffic. But lest you think Keystone is all groomers (see mountain layout), in 2007 it added Independence Bowl to its hike-to and snowcat-accessed terrain, making Keystone the largest guided snowcat skiing and riding in Colorado.

Because Keystone is owned by Vail Resorts, plenty of money is funneled into the amenities. The resort’s largest base area is River Run, a pedestrian village that includes boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants and condominiums at the base of the River Run Gondola. Though Keystone was never known for its nightlife, it has jazzed that up quite a bit. But it still won’t knock your socks off—this is mainly a family resort.

Keystone is part of Summit County. This county has four well-known ski areas—Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin and Copper Mountain—and more dining and lodging than most ski resorts on North America.