2018 TREK WITH KIDS: Keystone Resort in Keystone, CO (2018), Sponsored by Keystone Resort
Hebrews 13:1: Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.
When deciding where to travel for our 2018 Trek WITH Kids, we left it up to the kids. About this time last year, after returning from the wonderful Disney Cruise, I asked then-four-year-old Landon what he would like to do next year. “See snow!”, he shouted, and his mind never changed all year long.
I began the task of researching snow resorts that were kid-friendly, knowing that while seeing snow can be fun, it can also be far, overwhelming, expensive and the choices could be endless. But this Floridian mom was up to the task and I spent months researching the best snow resort for our family.
I stumbled upon Keystone Resort, located in Keystone, CO just 100 miles from Denver. As I read all of the family-friendly features they offered over other ski and snow resorts, I was frozen on their website! I couldn’t stop daydreaming about the wonderful snowy adventures the James family would have at this frigid kid paradise.
And so, join us for our review of our 2018 Trek WITH Kids:
Getting to Keystone
I was a little hesitant about selecting a trip destination with a time change (EST to MST) due to still having a just-turned three-year-old who is a little…feisty. One of the travel bonuses for Keystone is the Southwest offers direct flights from JAX to DIA! I was thrilled that we would not have to take a connecting flight.
The flight was just under four hours long and even shorter on the way home. The one challenge of traveling to Keystone is that once you land, you take a shuttle that takes just under two hours to the actual resort. We were anxious to get there after a long day of travel, but what we experienced at the resort made the commute well worth it!
Arriving at River Run Village
There are so many great options of places to stay in Keystone Resort, from hotel lodging to condominiums and renting out single family homes. We were thrilled with our selection of River Run Condominiums.
We loved our cozy, fireplace-lit condo for the week with instant access to restaurants, skiing, kids activities and more! The decor and theme of the room felt just like a log cabin and our views of snowy mountaintops from our porch were amazing. The condos also had an awesome lobby with a fireplace, pool tables and hot tub access! One advantage of staying on-site at a Keystone Resort property is that with two nights or more of booked accommodations, kids twelve and under ski free!
One of the sweetest parts of this trek to us was that the boys just seemed more grown up! They were more flexible with the long hours of travel and they fell asleep together easily. It was sweet to watch them enjoy having each other on this trip.
First Up: Ski Lessons
We were so excited to have the opportunity to both ski ourselves without kids (rotating with Logan and I watching the boys) and having the boys ski for the very first time! Keystone’s Ski and Ride School provides lessons to children three and up without their parents present. We chose to follow along, mainly to take pictures of the adorableness! And what an amazing experience it was!
For starters, we learned that Griffin (3) hates snow gear and especially the heavy ski boots.
But lucky for us, we were blessed with the best and most patient Kids Ski School private instructor. Coach Gary was absolutely wonderful with our kids and within moments, he and the boys formed an adorable bond.
The cuteness continued, as our boys learned to ski down the bunny hill and ride “the magic carpet” up to do it all over again. It was such a cool experience for them both!
And thank God for the straps on the back of the kids’ ski vests, because we spent a lot of time carrying Griffin around. So cute!
Even if we hadn’t gone skiing, our boys absolutely loved riding the gondola! We rode it multiple times per day to get to our snow activities and restaurants.
Dashing through the Snow
We were beyond excited about this excursion, operated by Keystone Stables, and the experience was beyond what we even dreamed. Our family enjoyed a horsedrawn sleigh ride by a local wrangler to a historic ranch homestead. The weather that evening was perfect for viewing stunning mountains and their reflection in the snow.
We were serenaded by guitar as we enjoyed steak and potato dinners and delicious warm apple pie in skillets. This was beyond a bucket list experience for us and we highly recommend booking this if traveling to Keystone!
Kidtopia – Run by Kids!
The biggest reason that we selected Keystone Resort was due to their offering of Kidtopia activities for young kids. While there are so many wonderful ski resorts, Kidtopia stands out for young families as it offers daily free activities and an indoor Kidtopia Headquarters where you can kick off your snow boots and warm up through play.
The boys favorite activities at Kidtopia were face painting, open play, coloring t-shirts and Ripperoo’s ice cream party. During the evening, we enjoyed a parade and nighttime fireworks that lit up the snow-filled village of River Run!
We were also fortunate enough to visit during one of Kidtopia’s Signature Event Series, Kidtopia Music Experience. These signature events happen only three times per year (this is the first year!) and the kids jammed to a concert by kid-friendly performers Koo Koo Kanga Roo.
Snow Forts and Tubing…Oh My!
Two kid-friendly snow adventures that we were super excited to experience were playing in Keystone Resort’s snow fort and tubing. Located at the top of Dercum Mountain and free for exploration, the snow fort was a kids’ paradise, equipped with icy, slippery slides and tunnels galore.
The kids played for hours on the climbing nets, tunnels and snowy playground fort.
Our family also had a blast experiencing snow tubing with lanes that zipped each of us at high speeds down on our tubes. You have to be 42″ tall to ride the big tubes and our youngest, Griffin, just made the cut. Landon enjoyed it but Griffin literally screamed with joy the entire time.
On the last run, Griffin chose to go by himself (something our 5.5-year-old wouldn’t do, and asked if he could spin!) Little dare devil!
Der Fondue Chessel
On our final night, we were in for a treat as we dined at the beautiful, snowcapped restaurant of Der Fondue Chessel, a two gondola ride from the bottom of the mountain.
Located at more than 11,000 feet atop Keystone’s North Peak, the scenic view was breathtaking! The dinner included a cheese fondue, steak and chicken as well as a salad and yummy dessert. What really made the restaurant was the ambience; Bavarian musicians serenaded us and included the kids to do the chicken dance on stage!
Sticking with the concept of being kid-friendly, Keystone Resort’s fondue dinner gave the kids the chance to cook themselves – and Landon was thrilled to be our sous chef!
Trek Difficulty Level: (2): On a scale of 1-3, I would rate getting to Keystone Resort from Jacksonville, FL a 2. We were so fortunate to have a direct flight on Southwest Airlines from JAX to DEN. One of the hardest parts about getting to the resort with young kids was the just-under two-hour shuttle ride. We used Colorado Mountain Express and while they were able to equip the shuttle with car seats (huge!) the drive was a bit tedious in conjunction with the flight.
Trek Budget: $5000; although I think you could achieve this vacation for way less or spend way more, $5000 seems like a good estimate. We booked our flights six months in advance and scored four seats roundtrip for $1200 on Southwest Airlines. If you chose not to rent ski equipment or partake in other more expensive excursions like the fondue dinner, you could likely spend closer to $4000. If you did the full experience including skiing or even ski lessons, you would spend over $6000. The accommodations at River Run Condominiums were affordable and you could score a two-bedroom condo for under $200/night. Be sure to check out Keystone’s Vacation Deals, including combining Lodging + Lifts and saving up to 40% off!
3 Trek Must-Dos:
- Take a gondola ride at night; you score great views of River Run and Keystone all lit up!
- Eat at Zuma Roadhouse! One of our favorite restaurants in this adorable ski resort was Zuma Roadhouse, offering delicious farm fresh salads, crispy brussel sprouts, homemade beef stew and some local brews.
- Grab a snack at Mountain Top Cookie Shop: the Nordic Cross cookie, the hot cocoa-flavored cookie with marshmallow icing and dark chocolate skis, literally changed my life.
Landon’s Trek Tip: “Be sure to go snow tubing!” (age 5.5)
Griffin’s Trek Tip: “Go to Colorado” (age 3)
Trek Sponsors: Thank you to Keystone Resort for sponsoring the James Family! What a wonderful selection we made to visit Keystone Resort. Your Kidtopia events and kid-friendly events truly made our family vacation complete. Our boys wait for this annual trip all year long and they will be remembering this special vacation forever!
xo, The James Family