By Heather Mundt
Editor Note: The original version of this article appeared in the December 2015 online version of Colorado Parent magazine.
Located just 90-minutes from Denver, it’s no secret that Keystone Resort is a top choice for local families. Add in its Kids Ski Free program—for kids ages 12 and under who stay at least two nights—plus a claim to the state’s longest ski days (8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wed. through Sat.) with the most lighted trails for night skiing, the resort earns top spots on many “family-friendly resorts” lists. Here are some of the more unique offerings that make Keystone a Colorado family favorite.
What is 60-feet wide, 75-feet long, 25-feet tall and made completely of snow? Only the world’s largest snow fort, part of the resort’s Kidtopia program that provides an array of kid-friendly activities, many of them free for guests.
Just a River Run Gondola ride to the top of Keystone’s Dercum Mountain, the Snow Fort offers slides, mazes and plenty of fun for kids and adults. But it doesn’t end there: After snow-fort shenanigans, head next door for Snow Tubing at Adventure Park, a thrilling ride down the 600-foot hill, followed by a cozy conveyor ride to the top for more downhill delight. Reservations required.
If you think fondue is too stuffy for kids to enjoy, you haven’t tried Keystone’s Der Fondue Chessel. Perched at 11,444 feet at the top of North Peak, half the adventure is getting there: two gondola rides under a quiet, moonlight sky, snug blankets included.
And once you arrive, the outside of the restaurant may signal “Colorado cabin.” But inside is decidedly “Bavarian Alps,” complete with servers donning dirndl dresses or lederhosen, an accordion and fiddle player livening the atmosphere with traditional folk music.
Not only will kids get to enjoy the fun of dipping delicacies in Swiss-cheese fondue but also the task of cooking on traditional Raclette grills. And don’t forget dessert: chocolate fondue accompanied by heaps of goodies, from bananas and strawberries to marshmallows and cookies. Oh, one more thing: You may find irresistible the urge to join in the Chicken Dance. You’ve been warned.
Chocolate Choo-choos and More
If you’re lucky enough to visit the Keystone Lodge & Spa through Jan. 3, you’ll witness one of the most epic feats of chocolate artistry: the Keystone Chocolate Village. Now in its 20th year, Keystone Executive Pastry Chef Ned Archibald uses 8,000 pounds of imported chocolate to create a working chocolate gondola and train, a 4-foot tall Christmas tree made from 650 pounds of white chocolate, and special adornments like gifts, “Star Wars” characters and a Denver Broncos helmet, to name a few. And if you missed it? Try to see it next year.
To celebrate the 5-year anniversary of Keystone’s Kids Ski Free program, the resort is celebrating Colorado Family Ski Month through the month of December. Visit Keystone Resort’s site for more information.
Heather Mundt is contributing editor to Outdoor Families Magazine, and publishes the blog Momfari. She lives in Longmont, Colo., with her husband and two sons.