Just under and hour from Vail is the park rat’s dream that is Keystone. I hadn’t been there since I lost a fight with a rail about a decade ago, but with Vail lacking a park due to poor snow, we jumped in the car on a blue bird day and gave it another go.
A solid start was the free parking, which would set you back $10 in Beaver Creek. It’s a long gondola ride to the top but it’s worth it for the view, a 360 degree vista of the Rockies. America doesn’t have the same spectacular views as the Alps since it's not as high but the lack of height does give you the famous tree runs. Rather than heading straight to the park, we went on a tree scouting mission and were not disappointed.
The mountain was super quiet which meant we could charge the long groomers with smooth rollers and steep drops. One of the benefits of Keystone was the lack of yellow jackets – the speed police who can take your pass for speeding in slow zones. After clocking over 100kmh on the first run I knew it was going to be a good day. Keystone has back bowls (the US equivalent of off-piste) which can only be accessed by a cat. Luckily cat access is given for free! There is a bowl that is accessible by hike only but the hike is groomed for you.
The views from the summit are outstanding, and you are looking down on an open powder field. From the top base it will take you about 45 minutes to descend just over 12,000ft. In hindsight, maybe take some water! On the park front, even on a bad season Keystone is just simply phenomenal. You have the choice of 4 parks: Area 51, Main Street, Park Lane and Punter Alley. So, so many lines feature an abundance of rails, quarter pipes, mini pipes, wall rides and the full range of kickers from small to shitting yourself – 14 in total.
The park is serviced by 2 man chairlifts where you can watch and get inspired on your way up. Lap time is around about 10 minutes and there is even a spot to hang your backpack up if you are there for the day. Everyone was super friendly and what was just going to be a day visit turned into 5. I’ve totally fallen in love with the place and can’t wait to get back.
Next in the Syndicate Guide to Shredding Stateside, the daddy: Vail
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