Keystone's three peaks are easy to roam between, and well-differentiated in terms of pistes and steeps so that groups of differing abilities can ride the same chair comfortably. Dercum Mountain is the main peak and can often be overcrowded with beginners and squirrely intermediates, so those in the know head to the North Peak or the newly expanded Outback for fresh tracks, steeps and beautifully executed mogul runs. There's steeps and glades for everyone in the Outback, especially in the area below the North Bowl. Another favourite for experts, though it does get tracked out and moguled-up, is the Windows.
The mountain now boasts three bowls with Independence (North and South) making a trifecta along with Erickson and Bergman -- all three of which afford steeps and deeps and nice rollers for riders. The glades in the Outback are some of Colorado's best and are not too well-trafficked; one of the best things about Keystone is that even when it's busy there is space to play.
Some of the most fun advanced runs can be found under the Santiago Express lift, while those picking up a board for the first time can feel like a hero making laps under the Argentine chair.
Voted by Transworld Snowboarding Magazine as one of the Top Five parks in North America, Area 51 is a smorgasbord of jibs, rails, boxes, ramps, kickers and walls.
Beginners learn the basics in the Incubator, before getting ready to join their more experienced friends hit more than 30 rails of varying degrees of difficulty and a 400-foot super pipe with walls that climb up to 15 feet in some places. The big bucks Keystone has shelled out to improve the park were worth it - Area 51 is now three times its original size, featuring a snow-bowl and a 50-foot flat bar, and an impressive night riding system that keeps people jibbing 12 hours a day.
Grooming is a big deal at Keystone, with some beginner runs groomed twice a day to ensure Colorado Corduroy enough for all. Start with a screamer down Frenchman on Dercum Peak, then head over to the North Peak for a rolling good time down Anticipation or Prospector. In the Outback, Lodgepole is a sure winner, even on boilerplate days.
Most of the beginner runs are clumped together on the front side of Dercum Peak, which can make for a busy slide at the end of the day, but a lesson or two with one of the resort's award winning teachers can get even a novice into a confident heelside turn. The Peru Express lift is a great spot to learn how to link turns and is in the sun for most of the day.