Skiing Out West For The East Coast Family- Part 2- Keystone

After 3 great days skiing the peaks in Breckenridge we departed and drove the short 25 minute scenic drive to Keystone Mountain where we stayed at the Lone Eagle Lodge, one of two ski in/ski out accommodations at the mountain. We stayed in a 3 bedroom condo that was on the same floor as the ski lockers and exit to the slopes. We were here for 5 days and we certainly made the most of it.

Keystone has a base altitude at 9,280 feet and the peak is just over 12,400 feet. As with Breckenridge, for those coming from lower altitudes, especially people on the coasts, that’s a hefty change in altitude and a prime setup for altitude sickness. We were coming down in altitude from Breckenridge, so we were already adjusted, but for those coming here straight away from significantly lower elevation see our post on Breckenridge for things we did to make the adjustment easier. (Breckenridge Post) River Run Village at the mountain base is quaint and cozy and has numerous restaurants and shops to serve all of your needs, including a small grocery/liquor store.  As was the case in Breckenridge, all the people in Keystone are so nice and helpful.

Lodging

Lone Eagle Lodge and its sister building, the Timbers, are located at the main mountain base by the town (River Run Village), the Summit Express lift and River Run gondola. They have accommodations ranging from studios to 3 bedrooms, and amenities that include a gym, an outdoor hot tub and pool. There are many accommodations at Keystone, but most are owned and rented by a property management company, so you check in at that company located on the property but not at the actual building you’re staying in. This was something we only recognized when we arrived at the building to find we needed to check in elsewhere, so if staying here clarify all of that information in advance.

We stayed in a 3 bedroom and the accommodations were spectacular. The people who own the condo went out of their way to make us feel at home with a large chest of board games and puzzles, many appliances, and numerous glasses and plates. The condo was also setup to be very functional with two twin beds in the third bedroom, a king in the master, a queen in the second bedroom and a comfortable pull out sofa in the den. The furniture was all on casters in the den to allow for quick breakdown at night and setup in the morning. There was also a nice porch to sit on and relax which we did the last day as the weather reached spring temperatures of 56 degrees.

The gondola that starts at River Run Village is a great way to get up to the top .  It is relaxing and warm especially on windy days. It was only a short ski or walk from Lone Eagle and we used it several times.

The Mountain

Keystone Mountain has 3 peaks (Dercum Mountain, North Peak and The Outback). Each peak is easily accessible and has a different theme. We skied them all and below you will find our take and a brief description of the peaks. Our trip was the last week in March and conditions were amazing.  We drove into town in a snowstorm making for lots of fresh powder for our first day.

Dercum Mountain– This is the main peak and can be reached via many lifts, including the River Run Gondola and Summit Express which come from the base near River Run Village. Also, the Montezuma Lift comes from mid-mountain. 

The Ruby Lift serves as a way back to the summit of Dercum Mountain from the base of North Peak. There are also numerous learning areas on this peak, and it is home to Schoolmarm, a 3.5 mile long green slope loved by beginners looking for a challenge and experts looking to cruise back down and enjoy the beautiful views.

The Summit House eatery lies at the top and is a great place to eat with indoor and outdoor seating. There is also the Outpost Gondola connecting Dercum Mountain with North Peak. It is a beautiful 8-minute ride across the peaks and allows you to transfer in both directions for eating and exploring even for those unable to ski the slopes. The lifts take you to 11,640 feet elevation. From here, one can hike in many directions to get to the peak elevation of 12,614. Dercum Mountain has it all. — from long, easy greens and learning areas to the Windows, which feature intense tree skiing. This mountain is also home to the 5 terrain parks which feature about everything one could want from small jumps and boxes to insanely high Olympic size jumps all in one area. Dercum Mountain truly has it all.

 A few of our favorite slopes:

  1. Beginner slopes- Schoolmarm to Ina’s way
  2. Intermediate- Spring Dipper to Santa Fe, Paymaster to Jaybird to Dercum’s Dash, and Mozart
  3. Expert- Mouse Trap and Gunbarrel in the Windows, Go Devil
  4. Terrain- Easy Street and the Alley

North Peak– This peak has intermediate and expert terrain, but has one slope, Prospector, that is very enjoyable for more novice and intermediate skiers.  We loved this slope and went down probably 15 times over the 5 days. This peak is the home to the Outpost restaurant and allows access to the Outback and Dercum Mountains via skiing down one side or the other and taking a lift (Ruby to Dercum Mountain, Santiago back to North Peak or ski down Anticipation or Spillway to the Outback Express) or the Outpost Gondola back to Dercum Mountain. This is a great spot for intermediate to expert families and is where the party is most of the day.

The lift lines are typically short and Labonte’s Smokehouse Barbeque at the base by the Ruby and Santiago Lifts is a great spot to eat or relax in the sun at one of the many tables or Adirondack chairs outside.  We heard from folks there that during non-pandemic times they typically have a deejay that plays music there during ski season.

A few of our favorite slopes:

  1. Intermediate- Prospector
  2. Expert- Starfire and Geronimo (if you love many hundreds of feet of challenging moguls)

The Outback– This is the expert peak where even the blues are challenging. This is also home to the hike for the North and South Bowls. We skied both, and the sign that recommends the North Bowl should be heeded unless there are many inches of fresh powder from the night before. We were lucky enough to get 8 fresh inches the night before our first day on the slopes and took full advantage of that, heading to the Outback first thing and skiing all it had to offer.

Although the bowls were closed that day due to unstable snow pack we hit nearly everything else the first day. There is nowhere to eat at this peak and the outback is serviced by just the Outback Express lift. The Wayback Lift takes you back to North Peak and is the only way back from The Outback.

There are numerous challenging slopes here and the lift lines are always short, but for those looking to challenge themselves this is the peak for you.  Our favorites were Wolverine, Porcupine, North Bowl to the Trap and Oh Bob. We skied the South Bowl but unfortunately it was near the end of the week and it was icy and not very enjoyable, so I recommend only skiing this bowl when the conditions are perfect.

Places to eat

Summit House – You can find the Summit House eatery at the top of Dercum Mountain.  It is accessible by most of the lifts that all meet at the main summit.  The restaurant has 3 stories and varying views of the mountains.  The menu was limited during Covid to burgers, chicken fingers, chili and snacks.  During non-pandemic times, we understand the menu is not so limited.  It was a great, central location for all in our skiing group to meet for lunch each day.

Mountain House – The Mountain House is located at the Peru Express Lift and again, served a variety of normal mountaintop fare including burgers, soups and chicken fingers.  Because of Covid, there was no indoor dining at this restaurant but there were plenty of outdoor patio tables to grab a quick bite and they had a 15 minute warming area inside.

Labonte’s Smokehouse Barbeque – This was our favorite location to dine on mountain.  It can be found at the base of North Peak. Because it is only accessible by blue and black slopes, it tends to be less crowded than the other on mountain eateries. We also found the selection to be a bit better as the menu added a really good pulled pork sandwich.  The outside area was also expansive with a load of picnic tables and Adirondack chairs to grab a drink and watch the skiiers fly down the mountain.

The Outpost – The Outpost Lodge is at the top of North Peak.  Unlike Labonte’s, though, you don’t need to ski down a North Peak Slope to reach it.  It is accessible by the Outpost Gondola and therefore is an option for non-skiers and skiers alike. During Covid, they were only offering snacks and drinks to go so we were not able to dine here but understand that during normal times it offers the typical on mountain menu.  The Outpost is also home to the Alpenglow Stube restaurant which was not open this year.

Ski Tip Lodge – In our opinions, this is a must do dinner stop for anyone in Keystone. It is about a five minute drive from the base of the mountain and was once a stagecoach shop during the 1800s. It is now a B&B and home to one of the most acclaimed restaurants in the area.  The atmosphere is cozy and you feel like you are eating in the home of the host with a fire crackling in the background.  The menu is prix-fixed and changes weekly. The sommeliers have been there for decades and are friendly and willing to help even the most novice wine drinker with the extensive menu.  Many of the folks in our party had the game trio and could not get enough of it!

Keystone Ranch – Keystone Ranch is located in an old log cabin homestead on the Keystone golf course about a 5-10 minute drive from the base of the mountain. This restaurant also wowed us with an amazing dinner and wonderful wait staff.  Its menu is centered around its steakhouse fare and most folks order some form of steak with your choice of a variety of different sauces.  The appetizers were all to die for and we could have made a meal on those alone. And none of us could get enough of the homemade butter and jam with the bread.  The wine menu was provided on an iPad that allowed you to answer a few personality questions to help choose your wine if you wanted to try something new.

The Town

River Run Village

Unlike Breckenridge which has a main street with an old town feeling, River Run is your traditional ski village at the base of the mountain.  There are quite a number of good places to eat and drink après ski, a small grocery/liquor store and some shopping.  We grabbed a quick beverage and mid-afternoon snack at Montezuma Roadhouse on their expansive patio on a beautiful spring day. The crepe stand and cookie place were also fantastic! We got takeout from Pizza on the Run and Luigi’s pasta house – both were also fantastic and the portions from Luigi’s were huge! For a smaller mountain, this was a great little ski village with everything you could possibly need.

While we were in Keystone, we stepped inside the sales center for a brand-new resort that they are building in River Run Village right at the base of Dercum Mountain. There we met Don Thomas from the Kindred Sales Team who filled us in the scoop concerning this new, amazing resort they are building (as well as some great history about the Keystone Resort).  The resort is named Kindred, and will be a luxurious, 4.5 star Rock Resort.  It will consist of a hotel tower and two residential towers. The hotel tower is expected to open in summer of 2023. The residential towers will have 95 one, two, three and four bedroom suites. The initial offering of 17 residences has already been sold out in the initial release.  There will also be 3 new restaurants, an outdoor pool and hot tubs, spa, ski club and conference facilities. They hope this brings some additional luxury to the Keystone Resort area and boy does it look fantastic! We are keeping a close eye on the development of Kindred! 

Some additional Keystone information and history we received from Don included some great information on the natural amenities you can experience in the area during all seasons. As Don informed us, the Snake River wetlands, are filled with visiting moose, coyotes, foxes, pine martens, raccoons, porcupines and the ever present, easily scared, black bears.  Beavers and muskrats occupy the area all year long, maintaining their watery homes.  Deer and elk visit to munch flowers at times, but moose are here throughout the year and are easily spotted from the buildings-to-be of Kindred.  Don and his wife feed the local hummingbirds about 220 pounds of sugar each year and their “family” of Broadtail, calliope and Rufous hummingbirds number approximately 1,000.  They fill five or six feeders twice a day for most of the season, May 1 through September.   

What do we think you have to do while at Keystone:

  1. Explore River Run Village.
  2. Have dinner at Ski Tip Lodge.
  3. Have a drink and enjoy the ambiance of the mountain base at Labonte’s Smokehouse.
  4. Take a trip to Breckenridge one evening if only skiing Keystone on your trip. It’s a bigger town with a different feel.

Overall, this was a great trip as a standalone but was even better combined with our time in Breckenridge.

2 thoughts on “Skiing Out West For The East Coast Family- Part 2- Keystone

  1. Great information on slopes for all levels. Liked the description on the lodge, great dining and exploring the surrounding areas and the wonderful little town. The pictures bring it to life with relaxed smiles on every ones faces and beautiful majestic vistas. A wonderful vacation spot for anytime of year but especially for skiers in season.

    Like

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