Keystone Mountain Tour

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It opens early in the season, closes late and offers nearly 12-hour ski days. With stats like that, it's no wonder Keystone is the third-busiest resort in the country. But that doesn't mean you're going to stand in line all day. If you're looking for the steeps and deeps, get there early and take the River Run Gondola to the top.

After a warm-up cruiser down Mozart on the backside, you'll be ready for The Windows and North Peak, Keystone's expert terrain. Avoid the crowds by taking the Outpost Gondola all the way over to beat the Mozart traffic and get almost an hour of solitude on North Peak's bumps. Ski them early before they get chewed up. You'll find steep runs and post-dump powder off the Outback Express, and a short morning hike gets you to The Outer Limits, Victory Chutes and Bushwhacker. They can be tricky to find, which means no crowds and good snow—plus some of the most underutilized (and best) tree-skiing in the state.

Start working your way back to the frontside, and ski Keystone Gulch on the way. From its base, take the Santiago Express to the top of several intermediate and advanced bump runs. Ski Patrol spent the summer cleaning up deadfall, so Buck Shot and Wild Card are clean shots. The frontside provides the perfect family layout with a mix of beginner and intermediate runs, and you can still find powder on side trails such as upper Go Devil and Swandyke—which often gets ignored by families and novices on the way to green Spring Dipper. Your well-worked legs will be ready for a break by 3:30 p.m. Grab dinner at the Great Northern Tavern in the River Run Base area and then get back on your boards for several more hours on 17 night-skiing trails that are re-groomed daily at 5 p.m. If you're still standing at 8:30, head to River Run for a well-earned beer.