Snow fort at Keystone Resort in Colorado

Snow fort at Keystone Resort in Colorado

KEYSTONE, CO — Ready to be king—or queen for a day? Sit right down on the throne—the ice throne at the largest snow fort in ski country at Keystone Resort, complete with ice slide and kid-sized tunnel.

“Really fun,” said Rebecca Hopeck, with her six year-old daughter, who paid $26 for a ticket to ride up and play.  “You can play up here while the others are skiing,” she explained, enjoying the mountain top.

Keystone is Vail Resort’s most kidcentric resort, with kids-ski free (as long as you book a two night stay, night skiing tweens and teens love, daily “Kidtopia” activities.  Think a parade through the village on Saturdays, with kids being twirled around in tires, free cookies and hot cider in the ice skating rink, the chance to meet and greet the avalanche dogs and ski patrollers, free kids sundaes and more.  Think glow stick ice skating and disco tubing at the tubing hill at the top of the mountain.

I love that Keystone is piloting a National Restaurant Association Kids Live Well initiative designed for healthier kids meals with less fat, salt and sugar.  

There are street performers in the village, giant checkers and chess games with kid-sized huge pieces and even a Bavarian themed fondue restaurant with a live polka band and the chance to do the Chicken Dance.

There’s also Camp Keystone that gives children the chance to improve and the resort offers any child booking three or more days the guarantee of the same instructor daily. At the end of day, parents have the chance to join a Mom, Dad and Me private lesson alongside their child’s instructor.

But what I also like about Keystone is that there is plenty to do besides downhill ski—there are two ice-skating rinks, cross country skiing at the Nordic Center with 5.6 miles of groomed Nordic Ski Trails and 8 miles of snowshoe trails and snow-biking at Adventure Point at the top of the gondola, and even snowshoeing at the top of the mountain.

While my daughter and nephew skied, we opted for a top-of-the mountain snowshoe tour that took us three miles into The Bergman Bowl.  It was a perfect blue sky day and we were really feeling the attitude as we climbed from 11,200 feet altitude to 11,900. But the views were spectacular—the mountain ranges—the snow covered trees and even the slopes above tree line.

On our snowshoe hike high up on Keystone Mountain

On our snowshoe hike high up on Keystone Mountain

Snowshoeing is growing more popular, says our guide Dick Rosehnal, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the new snowshoes from Tubbs that I got this year—so easy to get in and out of!  There is also a moonlight tour at the Nordic Center.  But the one we’re taking, along with about eight others, is only offered on Saturdays.  We’re lucky we have such perfect day!

A nice alternative to downhill skiing, we think, and the scenery couldn’t be better.  We only see a few skiers and riders who are hiking into terrain that has only had enough snow to open in the last week.

We end our day with drinks and snacks at the historic Ski Tip Lodge, that was the home of the first owners of Keystone: Edna and Max Dercum.  The building that was once a stop on the Argentine Pass stagecoach route, is now a bed and breakfast that serves multi-course dinners (think caramelized fennel with Lentils followed by pan seared foi gras and seared beef tenderloin or Colorado lamb chop and homemade apple cobbler, flourless dark chocolate torte.

We love checking out the artifacts—six feet long wooden skis and the modern hand- made skis produced by one of the staff, old-fashioned snowshoes and ski boots.

We enjoy local beers and wine, and snack on homemade potato chips, homemade apple and thyme elk sausage and home-made breads (I especially loved the rosemary chipotle muffins).

We don’t feel the least bit guilty after our snowshoe trek.

We head back to our condo—the wonderful Blue Sky at Breckenridge, a Wyndham Rental Resort, to eat leftovers for dinner –our last night with extended family in ski country.

Left overs never tasted so good.