Living in Keystone: A Lifestyle and Real Estate Guide to Keystone, Colorado
Founded in 1970, Keystone Is Also a Notable Vacation-Home Haven
What’s in a Name
As is true of so many Colorado resort destinations, Keystone boasts a colorful history that originated with logging and mining activities more than a century ago, on lands that were the ancestral home of the Ute and Arapahoe native peoples. The area purportedly received its English name from an early white settler who hailed from Pennsylvania, “the Keystone State.” The name stuck, but the local lifestyles changed, and now Keystone is a goldmine for skiers and recreationists of all stripes.
A True Ski Town
Keystone’s watershed transition took place in 1970, when developers Max and Edna Mercum founded a ski resort here, with the premise that it be a family-focused destination devoted to learning and mastering winter sports. Unlike other nearby towns and resorts that cater to a broader profile of luxury visitors, Keystone remains centered on skiing and related recreational sports during its winter season, which typically runs from November through April.
The overall ski complex at Keystone offers more than 3,000 acres of skiable terrain, and altitudes that reach a lofty 12,408 feet. With 20 lifts accessing 135 skiing and snowboarding routes and an average snowfall of 230 inches a season, the resort is a magnet for snow coverage and a boon for powder aficionados, with its many ski bowls and expansive runs. Keystone’s ski mountain offers three bases of operation: River Run, Mountain House, and Lakeside Village, which serve up a full menu of winter-recreation options including ice skating, snowshoeing, snow tubing, snowmobiling, gondola trips, and sleigh rides, as well as equipment rental and tuning shops.
Other resort amenities of note at Keystone include—but are not limited to—the following:
- Dillon Lake
This nearby roomy reservoir freezes over entirely in the winter, offering a glassy canvas for avid ice skaters. (Alternatively, in the summer, it is an angler’s mecca, as it is well stocked with rainbow trout, Kokanee salmon, and Arctic char.)
- Spa Offerings
Keystone’s spa offers a variety of services including massages, skin and body treatments, and yoga instruction.
- Ski School
True to its founders’ original focus on families and learning, Keystone’s skiing and snowboarding instruction includes lessons for adults and children, beginners and more seasoned practitioners, both privately or in groups. Whether students prefer steep, technical terrain or flat and forgiving slopes, Keystone offers lessons to hone skills and give visitors the confidence needed to explore the mountain.
Perhaps Keystone’s most recognized claim to fame is its reputation as Colorado’s foremost destination for night skiing, with the largest expanse of illuminated slopes for nocturnal whooshing and schussing. Night skiing is available at River Run base, allowing visitors to enjoy “the longest ski day in Colorado”—until 8 p.m.
The summer solstice arrives at Keystone with a full complement of new recreational options—whether fishing mountain biking, horseback riding, golfing, hiking, boating, or swimming. Dillon Lake and the Snake River offer angling opportunities, and golfers can avail themselves of courses at both Keystone Ranch and Keystone River. Nearby Loveland Pass is an outstanding hiking destination, and Keystone is also home to one of the nation’s best downhill mountain bike parks. Keystone Stables is on hand to outfit the equestrian for enjoyable rides in the countryside.
Context is key when it comes to Keystone, which is part of a cluster of mountain communities in Colorado that are in close proximity. The ski resorts of Frisco, Breckinridge, and Copper City are all just a short drive away, and each offers different sets of amenities and dining options that broaden the scope of one’s visit. Just as important, Keystone is only a 90-minute drive from downtown Denver, making it the perfect weekend destination and luxury “second home.”
The Luxury Landscape
Even though Keystone is an intimate community with a year-round census of just under 1,000, its reputation as a luxury residential destination is growing. Many outstanding mountain chalets and estates—with their signature lofty ceilings and expansive views, dot the area, and luxury condominiums are also a popular choice. And because Keystone is a comparatively recent development, many estates are of new construction, and most offer the most modern appointments and features.