If you follow me on Instagram and happen to catch me on the mountain on Instagram stories, you’ll most likely find me at Keystone Resort at least once a week. When it comes to midweek snowboarding, it’s often just me and my eight-year-old, Riley while my husband is at work. I don’t frequent Keystone because it’s the closest to my house or because I’m most familiar with the mountain. I pick Keystone because it’s the most child-friendly resort in the area.
I have had two bad experiences from another ski area who shall remain nameless. On both occasions, it was just me and Riley, and it was traumatizing.
Riley is a small child so jumping on a tall chair lift is difficult for him. He typically needs my husband to hold him up while a worker pulls him back to make sure he’s secure on the chair. At this particular ski area, I asked the liftie (the person operating the lift) if he could slow it down and help my son up. He nodded his head then proceeded not to help! This was an old lift that operates very quickly so I had to act fast and use all my strength to get my kid on the chair and make sure he didn’t fall off!
On another occasion, Riley who usually follows me when coming down the mountain misunderstood and accidentally went the opposite direction to a completely different run. I typically look back every few seconds to make sure he’s behind me and when I looked back, he wasn’t there! I stopped, unstrapped my board and started running uphill towards the mid-mountain base area. At 11,000 feet, my lungs were burning, but the mama bear in me started to panic. I didn’t know if he just went down another run or if he had fallen up the mountain and was hurt. I found a pair of ski patrollers casually walking by so I told them I was missing my 7-year-old. Of course, I wasn’t expecting them to send out search and rescue, but I assumed they had some kind of protocol for a missing child. Instead, I was told, “we have more important things to do right now.” I couldn’t believe it.
I had no choice but to ride down alone and hope my kid was down there. When I got to the base, I found Riley crying his eyes out. After I calmed him down, he told me he went up to a liftie and told him he was lost and couldn’t find his mom. Instead of assisting him, he was told to walk around and look for me. It was so crowded that day that Riley was completely overwhelmed and scared. I swear Wal-Mart has better protocol for missing children in their store!
After those experiences, I told my husband I’m never going there without him. I now stick with Vail Resorts, specifically Keystone because I know they would never put families in that kind of situation. Keystone employees are always quick to help my little guy on the lift and always give him a high five along with words of encouragement.
In addition to having great customer service, here are the other reasons my family loves Keystone:
SAFE LEARNING AREAS
Riley and I both learned how to snowboard at Keystone at their two learning areas: Discovery and Ranger. We started at Discovery Learning Area three years ago and chose this spot because of the very mild slope that helped us learn how to maneuver downhill without falling and practice getting on and off a small lift. Riley and I then graduated to the top of Dercum Mountain to the Ranger Learning Area where we practiced how to make turns on short runs and slowly ride through trees. Whenever I see people on runs who can barely stand on their skis or board, I will kindly suggest Discovery and Ranger. I always tell them, it’s safer for you to start there and you’ll gain confidence at a learning area before attempting a green.
FAMILY SKI ZONES
Many people are familiar with the green run, Schoolmarm, for being 3.5 miles long. And many parents are happy to take their kids on this run because it is very family friendly. On this 3.5 mile stretch, you’ll see several signs to slow down, watch for children, and even dedicated areas that say “Family Ski Trail”. Safety is a top priority on Schoolmarm where you’ll find several “rest areas” and Mountain Safety Patrollers watching the speed of other skiers and riders. They are so on top of it, I’ve watched them give tickets to people who were skiing way too fast around children. Even though Riley and I typically go for blue and black runs now, some days we revisit Schoolmarm because we love it!
The name says it all, Kidtopia is the perfect place to be if you’re a kid. The Kidtopia Headquarters at Keystone is open from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm. If the kids are tired of skiing or need a break from the cold, you can pop in with them at any time to play with toys or participate in a craft. After the lifts close, Kidtopia will have a specific program available. For example, Mondays are movie nights with free popcorn and snacks, Thursdays have Cupcakes and Canvases where kids get to eat cupcakes while painting a picture, and Fridays consist of a milkshake social with Kidtopia’s mascot Ripperoo. Riley has participated in all the activities Kidtopia has to offer and he absolutely loves it there! Check the daily program schedule here.
THE WORLD’S LARGEST SNOW FORT
Every year at the top of Dercum Mountain, Keystone builds the world’s largest snow fort or as Riley calls it, the “snow castle.” Not only do kids love it, but adults love it too! You can run around it, inside it or on top of it. The fort also has a couple slides to help you slide down from the top. When the sun goes down, the fort lights up! Riley and I have watched fireworks from the top of the fort and it’s a pretty fantastic view.
Kidtopia Holiday Spectacular
Around Christmas and New Years, Keystone has some very special events for the whole family. For several days in December, there are fun events such as indoor family parties, meet and greets with Santa, cookie decorating, face painting, Santa and Ripperoo parades, and lots of fireworks. My favorite part is the Torchlight Parade where the Ski & Ride School coaches come down the mountain with torchlights. It’s very beautiful and mesmerizing to watch!
Kidtopia Music Experience
Every year in March around Spring Break, Kidtopia puts on a music event that is fun for the whole family! It’s ultimately a week-long music festival for kids filled with bounce house parties, face painting, animal balloons, kids crafts, and of course, parades and fireworks. Riley always looks forward to the Snow Pants Dance Party where his favorite band, Koo Koo Kanga Roo are often headliners. The entire week is filled with dancing, sugar and tons of fun! We look forward to it every year.
Lastly, I want to point out one of my favorite things about Keystone: free cookies. Every single day at 4 pm, Keystone gives out free cookies. I always use Riley as my excuse to get a cookie, but truly, you don’t need to have a kid with you. I’ve seen adults run in, grab a cookie and literally run out. No need to run because I think this may be one of Keystone’s best-kept secrets!
Keystone Resort is scheduled to close this year on April 7, 2019. We are really sad about their ski season ending because this is one of our favorite places to spend time together as a family. Check out their website, Keystoneresort.com, and plan a trip before they close! See you on the slopes!
*Disclaimer: I am a Vail Resorts Influencer for the 2018-2019 season, but this is my third year as an Epic Pass holder. This is a sponsored post, but obviously, as a frequent season pass holder, all opinions are my own!