This sprawling Summit County gem is the Hermann Maier of ski resorts: Year in and year out, it collects more medals from SKI readers than virtually any other resort. Last year, Keystone led the Top 60 pack by earning medals in all 16 categories, and for 2002 it bagged 14, dropping off the podium in Value and Scenery. Given readers' comments, those omissions may be suspect: "It's Vail at two-thirds the price," says one. "Most beautiful place to ski in Summit County," adds another. The difference between Keystone and other rank-and-file resorts is like night and day. Roughly one-fifth of survey respondents mentioned Keystone's nightskiing as a unique asset. "You don't have to worry about that last run at 3:45 p.m.," a reader enthuses. That's a good thing, considering no one will confuse Keystone with Aspen when it comes to nightlife. But with the ever-improving River Run base village, Keystone reels in silver medals for Lodging, Dining and Après. More importantly, its terrain earns a gold medal. The North Peak and Outback expert areas are among Colorado's best-kept secrets, and Keystone's frontside groomers make intermediates feel at home, particularly families from no-snow states. "Practice your Southern drawl, y'all," advises one reader. On-mountain restaurants such as the Alpenglow Stube provide a good excuse to click out of your skis, while the abundance of off-hill activities-cross-country skiing, tubing, skating, sleigh rides-keeps families busy. "I always have a great time," one reader attests. "Best resort in Summit County," adds another. What's not to like about that?
WHAT'S NEW Four energy-efficient snowcats; snowmaking upgrades; Learn to Ski and Ride Weekend programs, which include off-slope clinics.
A GOOD DEAL Stay in "The Forest," which requires a shuttle ride, for $65 per person, per night and get free skiing and an activities pass.
MEDALS GOLD Terrain, Challenge, Lifts, Family Programs; SILVER Snow, Grooming, Service, Weather, Access, On-Mountain Food, Lodging, Dining, Après-Ski, Off-Hill Activities.
HIGH/LOW RANK On-Mountain Food (11), Access (14), Lifts (16), Family Programs (16); Value (37), Snow (39), Scenery (40).
DON'T MISS Nightskiing. Everyone skis like Stein under the lights.
READER REMARKS (+) "Real nightskiing." "Great family resort with long cruisers."
(-) "Crowded on weekends." "Limited nightlife and dining."