Keystone Lifts & Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
Keystone Trail Map
  • Vertical (ft)
    9,280 – 12,408 (3,128)
  • Average Snow Fall
    228 inches
  • Lifts (20)
    2 gondolas
    2 high-speed 6 packs
    4 high speed quads
  • Ski Season
    early Nov to mid Apr
  • Terrain Summary
    Area - 3,148 acres
    Runs – 128
    Longest run – 3.5mi
    Beginner - 12%
    Intermediate - 39%
    Advanced - 49%

Keystone Ski and Snowboard Terrain

The Keystone skiing terrain consists of five mountains named Dercum Mountain, North Peak, the Outback (Wapiti Peak), Keystone Peak and Independence Mountain, with the first three connected by a series of chairlifts and gondolas. Three of the mountain peaks are accessible from the Keystone Resort base areas of River Run and Mountain House.

Dercum Mountain has lots of easy family friendly terrain with slow zones to make sure the little ones don’t get bowled over by speedsters. North Peak is characterised by steep mogul runs, or if your knees are already ruined there are also groomed runs. The Outback has dark blue and black terrain including tree skiing. Cat skiing and hiking allow access to the remaining two mountains.

Keystone offers the largest night skiing operation in Colorado which takes place until as late as 8.30pm on over a dozen of the resort's trails.

Lifts

The lifts at Keystone are all modern and relatively quick (with one or two exceptions), so there is minimal time wasted sitting down. The River Run gondola has been an enhancement for Keystone allowing effortless loading all the way to the top of Dercum Mountain. The Outpost gondola to North Peak is a touch slow, so it’s better to warm up the quaddies and ski to the base of the Santiago Express before riding it up.

All snow riders, particularly boarders should be aware that all the traverse approaches to the bottom of the Outback lift are quite flat – don’t turn, let ‘em run!

The other ‘lifts’ in Keystone are snowcats. The Outback Shuttle moves snow riders to the top of North and South Bowls, and KAT adventures (Keystone cat skiing) access the other alpine bowls.

Lift Tickets

Lift tickets can be really pricey if you buy single day passes. However if you look at purchasing an Epic Pass things become much more economical. The EPIC pass also works at Vail and Beaver Creek, so if you’re heading to Colorado for a few weeks, this pass might work for you. The EPIC Pass costs approximately the equivalent of a 6 day lift pass, but it’s good for the entire season. There are a host of other ‘benefits’ that come with the EPIC Pass.

Keystone Mountain Crowds

Keystone’s proximity to Denver is a blessing and a curse, as are the cheap EPIC season passes, because Keystone can get slammed by the crowds! If possible, avoid weekends like the plague. The car parks can be packed, the village abuzz with folks, and the lift lines super long. The lift attendants don’t seem to manage the lift lines well by pre-arranging riders into groups; they seem to have a very lackadaisical approach to managing the crowds.

As to be expected, weekdays are much more relaxed, but this is definitely not a resort where powderhounds can lap freshies all morning long.

Keystone Snow and Weather

Some storms seem to miss Keystone and the ski resort doesn’t get a huge amount of snowfall when compared to other ski areas in the region. That being said, Keystone’s annual average snowfall of around 5.8 metres puts it on par with many of the top ski hills in North America, and cold average winter temperatures mean snow quality is top notch.

The grooming at Keystone is exceptional and extensive snow-making also ensures the trails are adequately covered.

Expect a lot of sunny days and when in the high alpine areas, expect wind. Rug up!

For the Beginner

Surprisingly there is not a huge amount of terrain for beginners at Keystone. Limited novice terrain is available on two short lifts, Ranger lift off Dercum Mt (at the top of the Gondola) and Discovery at the Mountain House base. Otherwise there are a few green trails that meander and traverse across the entire frontside vertical.

Most of the frontside intermediate runs are wide enough to cater for confident beginners.

Keystone Skiing – Intermediates

Intermediates are incredibly well served across the entire resort with blue runs being available off all three lift served mountains. Keystone Mountain has a great range of smooth cruisers as well as nice steep groomers.

The frontside intermediate runs are real tear-jerkers. You can go so fast that you’ll find tears in your eyes even when wearing goggles. Massive vertical and great pitch on the Flying Dutchman, Wild Irishman, Frenchman and the Spring Dipper/Whipsaw/River Run combination should leave you breathless. Several of these are open 'til 8.30pm for night skiing. Even though some of them are groomed late afternoon, they get really fast after dark – hang on tight!

Ski Keystone - Advanced Riders

Funny how a place that has such a vast array of black runs has a reputation based mainly on it being a family friendly hill – go figure! With a few exceptions, once you exit the gondola at the top of Dercum Mountain everything in front of you is certified advanced terrain. Trees, bumps, alpine bowls, super fast groomers, and cornices – ‘It’s all here’!!

Some favourites include the tree runs such as Wolverine and Wildfire, bumps on Ambush and Jack Face and any of the alpine bowls (take a hike or ride a cat).

Expert Skiing Keystone

Despite no terrain being designated double black, experts will be pleased to find enough challenges to spin many a yarn about. Challenges are mainly found in the trees and on some very steep bump runs. For trees (and the odd rock face), The Windows, The Black Forest and some wild terrain either side of the Wayback lift provide the thrills. Be aware of hazards if the snowpack is less than a metre – BYO brain bucket (helmet for the uninitiated).

Bumps can be found on all the advanced runs with some of the best either side of the Santiago Express. Additionally all the alpine bowls have some tasty cornices to leap off should some air time be required – although you’ll have to use your expert feet to get to them (or pay for a cat trip).

For the Powderhound

On a powder day there are a number of areas at Keystone that deserve the attentions of the powder hound.
 # 1 - The trees. Very few people seem to ski them. Some classic wind whoopdies exist in the trees between the runs skiers left of the Outback Express.
#2 - Under the Wayback Lift.
#3 - All the runs below The Windows area.
#4 - The cheap cat skiing available to all skiers via the gate at the top of the Outback Lift. For a small fee, you get a ride up to the top of the Outback Bowls for luscious freshies.
#5 - Skiing Bergman, Erickson and Independence Bowls by booking a day with KAT cat skiing or getting out the climbing skins and hoofing it up the hill.

Keystone Skiing for the Family/Kids

For some deranged reason we’ve noticed that families LUV night skiing. So even though it’s mighty cold, mighty fast and mighty hard to get motivated after dinner and (god forbid) drinks, night skiing rules at Keystone! It’s massive and runs til 8.30pm.

A couple of kid specific areas also exist on the front side – Ripperoo’s Forest and Klondike’s Adventure. These areas provide some ‘interactive’ ski fun for the little nibblers.

Keystone Terrain Parks

Keystone has an amazingly cracking terrain park area. The A51 is located on the frontside and can be accessed from the top of the gondola, or more directly from the Peru Express. The park area has its own lift called.... you guessed it, the A51. The park has a superpipe and enough rail, jump and terrain features to leave you in traction for a year. The features are grouped according to size so beginners (small) won’t find themselves mixing with intermediates (medium) or straying onto something frighteningly advanced (LARGE). Give my regards to your chiropractor.