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Keystone, Colorado
web: keystoneresort.com
email: keystone@vailresorts.com

By Roberta C. Stone, Correspondent

Explorers like Francisco de Coronado shared the rugged lands with Ute and Arapaho Native Americans peacefully until the gold rush of 1859. Then, a hoard of get-rich-quick schemers entered the Snake River valley and drilled holes in the rock looking for precious metals, silver being the most prevalent in the valley. Mostly Swedish immigrants from the Keystone state of Pennsylvania made their way west to seek their fortunes, hence the name, Keystone.

In the "summer of '42," a Swedish couple from Pennsylvania named Max and Edna Dercum drove their 1940 Ford convertible into the valley to, as Edna noted in book she penned about her Colorado home, " build a ski lodge, go skiing everyday, and live an uninvolved, quiet life in the mountains." Well, it hardly turned out "uninvolved." They purchased an old 1800's stagecoach stop, re-named it the Ski Tip Lodge, and turned it into a first class inn and restaurant, entertaining celebrated guests like, Henry Fonda and Stein Eriksen.

In the early 1950's, Max helped build the Arapahoe Basin ski area, taught skiing there with Edna and in 1961organized the Professional Ski Instructors of America, an organization that, today, is the hallmark of proper ski instruction. After Arapahoe's success, Dercum began work on Keystone Mountain, and despite numerous obstacles and hardships, the Dercums' dream of opening Keystone came true on November 21, 1970. One of the three peaks that make up the resort is named after him.

About Keystone Resort // Rising 12,000 feet in the Rockies' Ten Mile Range, the resort boasts 116 trails spread generously over three mountain peaks, (15 for night skiing) 20 chairlifts, (eight are high speed) 1600 lodging units to fit any preference from spacious condos, to private homes to the AAA four diamond Keystone Lodge, 34 restaurants, including the best in stateKeystone Ranch, 30 shops, a five-acre outdoor skating rink, the largest zamboni maintained rink in North America (open at night too) two award winning golf courses, a microbrewery and a health spa. Additionally, Keystone's Conference facilities are the Rockies' largest.

Let's talk skiing and riding. Keystone, has just completed a terrain expansion to 2,870 acres, making it the largest ski area in Summit County For riders, there are two awesome terrain parks and two large half pipes offering an 18 foot Super pipe, 51 rails and fun boxes and three separate lines for different abilities. The Incubator caters to the young and/or inexperienced. For a completely different experience, visit the A-51 Park at night.

For the adventurous, there is extreme skiing on black diamond gladed runs on the Outback Peak or take a guided snow cat tour with Keystone Adventure Tours to the several exhilarating bowls in the back country.

Sign the family up for ski lessons at Keystone University - Besides the usual fare of lessons, there are also special classes offered, like Mom, Dad and Me – for family togetherness, Flying Fossils, for the 50 plus set and Camp Betty for women only. A unique twist is the University Trail, where only lesson goers are allowed, giving them ample room to practice their moves and make their mistakes with no fear.

Because Keystone is part of the Vail Resort partnership, there are ticket bargains to be had for skiing the other resorts in the consortium (Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Arapahoe Basin) when purchasing multi-day tickets. Specials are also offered to military families.

Entertainment // For après ski fun, don't miss Parrot Eyes in the River Run area for their famous margaritas and live music. The Last Lift Bar features Keystone's own Swing Crew. Keystone's only dance club is the Greenlight where DJ's spin your favorite tunes into the night. Other hot nightly entertainment can be found at Great Northern Tavern, a microbrewery in the River Run area and TheKickapoo Tavern featuring a large deck and a fun crowd. If you prefer a western flair, step into the Snake River Saloon or The Goat, where locals enjoy food, drinks and music.

Family entertainment includes horse drawn sleigh rides to a historic homestead where the family can enjoy a western style meal with cowboy entertainers. Keystone also offers free activities during the winter such as Glowbug skate night at the five acre skating rink, movie nights, fireworks and Kids Night Out, just to name a few.

Throughout the winter, Keystone hosts special events like the Winterfall, an early season, multi-week celebration with different activities and the Mardi Gras Street Party and Parade, a gala of costumes and fun. Don't miss the River Run Blues and BBQ – which is music and delectable eats.

The Adventure Passport, which is given to every Keystone Resort Lodging guest, affords the bearer a coupon book full of freebies like ice skating, snow shoe treks, cross country skiing, wine tasting or yoga classes. There are discount coupons for various restaurants and shops also. The passport is good in all four seasons.

Summer entertainment offerings are: jazz shows, a bluegrass and beer festival, mountain bike races, culinary galas, a fiddle contest and a Celtic Festival. Local theatre groups, The National Repertory Orchestra and some big name artists also appear at the resort.

Cuisine // I have never been to a ski resort that offers more choices for dining than Keystone. Start with some great coffee and… at River Run's local eclectic hangout, the Inxpot, or at Starbucks across the street. Indulge in a hearty breakfast at the Mountain House's Food court where great lunches can also be had. Enjoy quick skier's lunch at Bite Me Pizza, or La Bonte's Cabin, where you can sit in an Adirondack chair at the base of the North Peak. Timber Ridge Food Court has first rate views and noodle bowls, burgers and low carb options. Bring the family for a great Italian meal at Paisano's, or try the Bighorn Steakhouse for meat, potatoes and salad. Many restaurants cater to children under twelve with free or discounted dinners. In the mood for an elegant dinner with your significant other? This is where Keystone excels. Start with the Keystone Ranch.

Ranked as the best restaurant in Colorado by Zagat for the past three years, the 1938 antique ranch offers a six-course gourmet dinner in a bucolic setting. You can feast in cozy luxury at the charming Ski Tip Lodge, which offers four courses of unusual American fare like elk chops and roast prairie quail in a romantic old stagecoach inn. After dinner, sip Ski Tip's special coffee in front of a roaring fire to complete the magical evening. Some of the best fine dining experiences can be found above 11,000 feet! For a four-course lunch or dinner you will never forget, take the gondola to the Alpenglow Stube – the highest gourmet restaurant in North America! Ranked seventh overall in the Zagat Survey, this Bavarian hideaway makes you trade in your ski boots for a pair of warm fuzzy slippers at the door before indulging your palate.

Next-door is Der Fondue Chessel, featuring an authentic four course Swiss fondue meal served family style. This place is perfect for large groups looking for a raucous good time of live music and dance. Don't forget to leave room for the chocolate fondue dessert!

Shopping // Who has time to shop with so much activity? But, if you do, the River Run area has Christy Sports and Keystone Sports for the athlete and Shirt Off My Back and Shirtz for the t-shirt hunter. Unique gift items can be found in Mother Moose, Cassiopeia of Keystone, Timbuktu, Cures and Curiosities or GorsuchLTD., which also carries high-end clothing. Shoes? Surefoot. Looking for a luscious cookie or ice cream treat after skiing? Try the Bear Paw or the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. If you want a great grocery store try City Market in Silverthorne. Silverthorne is the closest real town to Keystone (6 miles) for those necessities of life that can't be had in Keystone, like movie theatres, outlet shops etc. A great town to shop in with a wide variety of shops is Breckenridge, about 12 miles away.

Activities // Keystone has essentially everything for the sports enthusiast. Besides ice-skating, there is tubing, snow biking, Nordic skiing and horse drawn sleigh rides. The 16 km Nordic Center offers a Peak to Peak snowshoe trek off the gondola, Full Moon Snow shoeing, Personal Trainer Sessions, Nordic Women's Day and telemark lesson packages on Dercum Mountain.

Summer activities include white water rafting, hiking, one hundred miles of mountain biking trails, fly fishing, kayaking, and boating. Don't forget to try out those new clubs at the two championship golf courses awarded a silver medal by Golf Magazine and ranked among the nation's top 75 places to play.

For the more sedentary types, there are star gazing workshops, storytelling, wine appreciation seminars, eco-tours and facials, pedicures, manicures and massages at the Keystone Spa.

Places to See // Country Boy Mine and Mining Exhibit in Breckenridge gives year-round tours. Includes donkeys, underground mine tour, exhibits, gold panning and other hands–activities.

Nearby towns of Silverthorne, Dillon and Frisco offer interesting shopping, good restaurants, and attractions. Keystone Mountain is part of Vail Resorts, which includes Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge and Vail/Beaver Creek. It is also close to Copper Mountain.

How to Get There // Keystone is located 90 miles west from Denver International Airport (DEN). Travel West on Interstate 70. Exit at the Silverthorne/Dillon exit #205. At the end of the exit ramp turn left (East) at the stop light onto Highway 6. Travel 6.2 miles into Keystone Resort. FYI - There are several places to stop along the Interstate 70 corridor for food and gas.

Tips // Try night skiing. There are less crowds, but more interesting people who would brave the cold alpine night. It's fun to ski under the lights and you don't need sunglasses or sun block!

Even though it will cost you more than a hamburger, DO NOT miss these gourmet restaurants: Ski Tip Lodge , Alpenglow Stube, Der Fondue Chessel, and Keystone Ranch.

Take a Full Moon Snowshoe if you get the chance. There is nothing like trekking through the woods at night with a bunch of friendly strangers marveling at the moon. Make reservations early. They only take 20 people.

By Roberta C. Stone, Correspondent

What makes Keystone special is the way each of the three peaks has a distinct personality and feel, so the skier or rider gets to strike up a new romance with each mountain and discover the nuances of each. None are too intimidating since they all have "an easier way down." For instance, on the Outback Peak, my daughter skied the "out of bounds" hard stuff through trees, while I took one of the blue runs and met her at the bottom. I enjoyed the North Peak's challenging long cruisers and lack of crowds. On Dercum, the terrain parks were completely separated from the rest of the runs so riders could do their tricks without clashing with skiers. The view from the top of the peaks was Rocky Mountain beautiful.

Nice people ski Keystone. We met several on our trip, including Mark and TJ who we asked to take our picture, and instead they took us on a four-hour tour of the mountain. At the end of the day, over margaritas at Parrot Eyes, we agreed to keep in touch, and we still do. There was Mordecai Cohen, an Israeli ski instructor who compared the Rocky Mountain panorama to the border between Israel and Syria. My family's favorite, though, was Andy – a 76 year old retired steel worker from Chicago who comes to Keystone every year since he started skiing at the age of 40. We rode up the chair together at Arapahoe and by the time we reached the top, he was our guest for dinner. We still hear from him too. That's the kind of place Keystone is – friendly, real and essential. And memorable. Don't forget to go.


TRAILS: 116 (15 for Nite ski)
CLOSEST MAJOR AIRPORT: Denver International Airport (DEN)