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Keystone Ski Resort Profile
Keystone spreads its 3,148 acre snow blanket over three mountains and five bowls that have been enchanting skiers since 1970. Now, forty years later, River Run Village offers a quaint artist-colony feel at the base, while Alpineglow Stube offers a more polished feel up top. Your family can rip up the the powder from base to pinnacle all morning and afternoon, then watch the stars come out without leaving the slopes!

While Summit County is packed with resorts, Keystone stands out as the only resort to offer both night skiing and a groomed tubing hill. On any given day you will find folks shopping, dining, and relaxing at the base, while skiers and tubers careen down the mountain all day and much of the evening. Yet even with these extended hours and convenient services that go beyond those of other Summit County resorts, Keystone offers the price and feel of less assuming mountains.

You can reflect on Keystone's unique benefits as you swoop up Dercum in a toasty, glass enclosed Gondola and watch the story-book River Run Village fade beneath you. At the top, you will find plenty of long, winding blues and greens, including School Marm, a perennial favorite for beginners and those looking for calmer skiing. You are likely to see ski-school classes for children and adults hitting this run at all hours of the day; the kids fearless in their power ranger like helmets and ski-suits. Spring Dipper picks up the pace a bit without being too intimidating. If you have some more adventurous riders, head over to North Peak via the Outpost Gondola or the Mozart run. This mountain will keep the dare devils busy with expert runs and more difficult blues.

The Upper Bowls offer the largest challenge and the least traffic, as they are only accessible by snow cat or foot from the Outback lodge. Don't forget the playground-like terrain park nestled at the bottom of Dercum for the flying tomatoes in your family! You can ski most of your favorite green and blue runs on Dercum, tube the tubing hill, or cavort about the terrain park until 8:30 on night ski nights! Knowing you will have this extra time on the hill, you might want to commit to some private or group lessons at the ski-school during the day. They can start out beginners or move intermediate and advanced skiers further along in their quest for mogul domination of confidant black diamond carving.

As usual, the half way and higher lifts offer faster lines, but even the long Gondola lines move quickly with 6 passengers per car and the larger lifts are high speed so whisking up the mountain is do-able even in a crowd. You can easily spend your day on the top half of Dercum using the Montezuma Express for your midway lift and hardly encounter a line. For direct Terrain Park Access, take the Peru Express from the bottom, or take the A-51 without crossing the from within the terrain park!

The non-skiers or riders in your midst can appreciate the groomed tubing hill that comes off of Dercom's side. This is a pleasure you can enjoy well into the summer, an unlikely river of snow surrounded by summer woods.

After a long day of powdery runs, ski or ride the gondola down to the village for some nachos , margaritas and pop at Parrot Eyes! If you're feeling less spicy, dig into thick and tasty home made pizza at Pizza on the Run. If the lights on the powder make you wish for some glitz, and you have reservations, go back up top for a fancy gourmet dinner at the Alpenglow Stube.

Of course, you may not need a restaurant if you snag one of the ski-in, ski-out condos at River Run Village, where you can fix your own dinner while relaxing with the family. Location does come with a price, but if you can gather the extended family and share the cost, it will be well worth the effort. Lower prices on time-shared or sub-let condos right in the village can often be found on Denver's Craigslist, especially over spring break and the holidays. With or without a deal, the convenience and pleasure of walking from your condo to the lift line might convince you to whip out the Visa.

If you are looking for something a bit less expensive, yet more homey than the normal hotels of town, try a vacation cabin or condo a bit farther from the slopes. Western Skies Mountain Bed and Breakfast Cabins and Lodge is only 4 miles away from the slopes, and packs plenty of mountain charm. If your family has a hankering for some historic digs, try out the 19th century stage stop that is now Ski Tip Bed and Breakfast; you can ride their shuttle to the mountain after your 5 star breakfast. For a lower rent option that will still let you make your own meals, look into The Fireside Inn just up the road in Breckenridge, or Riverside Lodge in Silverthorn. Both are hostels offering dorm, single, or family style accommodations, and full kitchens.

Keystone has something for everyone right in the thick of Summit Counties many heavenly hills. Stay nearby and you will miss the only non-glorious facet of ski life in Colorado, the traffic from Denver down the I-70 corridor. Your short drive, shuttle-ride, or walk will be the icing on your ski vacation cake, especially when you remember that many of the people who join you on the lifts and in the lodge made the drive from Denver. They keep coming back for more, like you just might.

By Jamie Paul