It was a trip long over-due for Low Key and me – and a much awaited one for Goose and Chicken.
16 years ago before we were married (and in the midst of a blizzard), Low Key and I visited Keystone Resort, Colorado with my family. Located just an hour and half from Denver (or about three hours in a blizzard), Keystone is a fantastic location for first-time skiers, families, and even more advanced skiers. We knew when we visited that one day we would be back.
Our kids Goose and Chicken (now ages 7 and 4, respectively) have been begging to see snow. Each time we travel north in the winter we hope that by some chance we will catch a bit of the white stuff. Alas, snow had remained a mystical element to these Florida-born kids – like the ocean to a kid from Kansas.
A couple of years ago during the winter Goose spotted a really dirty car – it happened to be from Ohio. When I explained that the owner had driven through a lot of snow to get to Orlando, he immediately requested that we take a trip to Ohio. This request was repeated over the years.
Deciding that Goose and Chicken were old enough to learn to ski (and both were super pumped about snow) and needing to get Goose away from the notion of thinking that Ohio was the only snowy place to visit, we booked a spring break trip to Keystone. [Also I always have such sympathy for kids in our area who have never seen snow.]
If you travel to Keystone, you will find a number of options at many price-points. For this trip, we stayed in the River Run Village and booked directly with the owner of one of the many condominiums. We chose River Run due to proximity to the slopes. You can literally walk to the slopes with ski gear in tow – the resort even offers handy red wagons to assist with towing children and/or their ski equipment.
One of the big perks of the condos in River Run Village (aside from proximity) are ski lockers located on the base of each building. This provides a secure location to keep all of the ski gear without dragging it up to the room, where it would have likely become mixed up in some inventive game created by Chicken or Goose.
Another perk – washers and dryers in the buildings. If you have read my prior posts, you know how I hate packing a lot on vacation and how I insist on doing laundry while traveling. This is even more important when Floridians (who own few winter clothes and limited ski apparel) travel to frozen lands (aka Colorado).
Aside from these perks, the condos also offer the expected – a separate master bedroom (in most cases) so that adults are not going to bed at 8:00pm like the kids and a full kitchen so that Chicken can eat as many chicken nuggets as she would like. We cooked most of our meals while in Keystone. It was just easier than dragging the kids out to eat after a long day on the slopes.
Lift Tickets / Ski School
Lift Tickets. There is just not an easy way around it. They are expensive. If you time it properly, you might buy a season pass that could save some money (depending on how many days you plan to ski), but it is expensive – but totally worth every dime.
Ski School. If you have not been skiing before, save yourself a lot of heartache and possible broken bones and take some sort of class. If you are traveling with kids and are not an expert skier and/or are not the most patient person on the planet, save yourself and your child(ren) a lot of heartache and sign them up for ski school. I watched parents painfully trying to teach their kids to ski and after cringing, thanked myself for spending the extra money to put my own kids in ski school.
Typically, I am not a fan of sending my kids to do things on their own during vacation. However, they both loved and I cannot stress this enough loved ski school. They were each placed in a class with kids their own age. Chicken actually said that she did not want to return to regular school – only ski school. Sorry, Chicken, that’s not an option.
I was excited to see how quickly they progressed in their two days of ski school. More impressive was their love for skiing. This speaks volumes of the instructors at the Keystone Ski and Ride School.
Aside from the obvious skiing, Keystone Resort offers a number of other activities for both adults, kids, and families. A few that we tried out included:
- Tubing at Adventure Point – Definitely on the pricer side at over $30 per person for one hour, Tubing at Adventure Point provides a modern way to experience classic snowtubing. After zipping down one of five lanes, you travel back up the mountain-side via “magic carpet.” This process allows for more runs in the hour. For us, this meant we got 11 trips down the mountain before our time was up. And as an added bonus, both kids saw snow fall from the sky for the first time ever while we were tubing.
- Bigfoot Adventure – We almost missed this one, but a nice family from St Louis insisted that we crash the event with them. The Bigfoot Adventure, part of Keystone’s Kidtopia programming, is geared toward kids ages 4 – 12 and is hosted by a graduate of Bigfoot State University (accreditation might be questionable). During the pre-walk debriefing, our host Kevin explained about the history of Keystone, the Native American tribes (the Utes) that lived there long ago, and discussed many of the (actual) wildlife in the area. The rather large group in attendance then went on a walk in nature to look for signs of Bigfoot. With any other host or in any other place, this may have all been ridiculous. However, the 18 kids and all of their parents were eager followers of host Kevin. This morning my kids spent 30 minutes in the car recounting everything that happened during the Bigfoot Adventure. It was a BIG hit. [note: this very exciting adventure is complimentary for Keystone guests.]
- Starquest Night Sky Exploration – Also part of the Kidtopia programming, Starquest teaches kids (definitely geared for ages 4 – 10) about the night sky and the phases of the moon. The kids were definitely eager to learn from the instructors from the Keystone Science School and have watched for the moon (or any shapes in fact) to identify the phase. Not quite as exciting as the Bigfoot Adventure, but was definitely fun and a good way to slow down at the end of a ski-filled day.
- Other Activities – There were so many other activities that we could have spent more time doing. The kids briefly launched snowballs up the mountain. We never got around to building a snowman – though the late spring snow was a bit crunchy (icy). And most tragically, the snow fort had started to melt before the kids could visit it. Maybe next time.
Next Winter, Different Ski Destination?
Long ago Goose figured out that I tend to plan trips to new places – there are just too many places to go to repeat stops. However, based on the great week that we had, we are in fact already planning on another trip to Keystone next ski season.
Does your family have any favorite winter vacation destinations?
As a side note, no compensation was given for this post – we just had a great trip and want other families to get out, explore, and have their own adventures!