By Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer
The first day of summer is June 20, and we’re ready. After months of forced hibernation, and a quarantine, everyone will be looking forward to a little fun in the sun.
In River Run, Keystone Resort’s village, the sun shines down on a delightful scene: colorful flowers bloom, hummingbirds flit from blossom to feeder and everyone is feeling friendly.
This is what I like best about visiting a Colorado ski resort in the summer. No one is in a hurry and people are generally affable. After all, they are in vacation mode. Even coffee baristas strike up conversations with guests.
Keystone is technically not a town but a census-designated place in Summit County with its own address. It’s 70 miles from Denver and just up the road from Lake Dillon. During the winter, it is a family ski destination and in the summer it becomes a playground.
River Run is at the symbolic heart of this community. During the summer, it is far from sleepy. In fact, it comes alive with music, food, festivals and more. Known as a family-friendly spot, Keystone has a lot to do for those under age 18.
Kidtopia is Keystone’s children’s programming with free kid-oriented activities throughout the summer. In addition to things like flying kites and eating sundaes, there is stuff to climb on, over and under at the Play Park at the base of River Run Gondola. The park is home to a climbing wall, mine shaft, bounce house, bungee trampoline and gem panning. The kids won’t be bored at Keystone.
One of my favorite activities at any ski resort in the summer is taking the chairlift to the top of the mountain and Keystone is no exception. Here, visitors take the chairlift up Dercum Mountain, 11,640 feet above sea level. From this elevated vantage point, one can see Lake Dillon, the Continental Divide and Ten Mile Range. Plus, it’s the perfect excuse for a two-mile high selfie.
Overlook Grill is located on the Summit House deck. Having a hamburger before exploring the area by hiking is the perfect way to spend the afternoon. The grill also offers cocktails, beer and wine.
Hiking opportunities are bountiful on the mountain and guided hikes are the perfect way to explore while learning about the history of the area. These thematic hikes are offered daily and can be booked by visiting KeystoneResorts.com.
Biking at a ski mountain has become extremely popular. With 55 miles of lift-serviced terrain at Keystone Bike Park, all levels of mountain bikers can find some-thing fit to ride. Of course, it is easy to improve by taking a class offered at the resort.
Going up isn’t the only way to experience outdoor recreation in Keystone. The Summit County Paved Recreational Trail (locally known as Recpath) is extensive but visitors can hop on at River Run for a relaxing stroll to Lakeside Village next to Keystone Lake. Take a peek at a map of the village to see where to access this path.
Lakeside Village offers lodging, dining, some shopping and the Adventure Center, where visitors can rent paddle boats, kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddle-boards. Feeding the trout in the lake is another popular amusement.
The Snake River flows through Key-stone, keeping the resort green in the summer. Enjoy the coolness of the splashing water in River Run during the festival season or do some catch and release fishing. Allowed on most of the resort, fishing the Snake River is easy.
Keystone’s summertime festival offerings are vast. There’s an event every month and two in July and August. The season generally begins with the Bacon & Bourbon Festival at the end of June. This year, the festival has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. At press time, the remaining festivals were still scheduled to take place.
The festival kicks off a flight of six events at River Run, each providing a different reason to be in Keystone. On July 11-12, it’s wine and jazz. One of Colorado’s longtime favorite bands, Dotsero, plays the main stage and more than 300 varieties of wine are served throughout River Run. This celebration of the grape also includes seminars, such as “Prosecco & Pancakes” on Sunday morning.
Art Festival breezes into the village on July 25-26. It’s an opportunity to buy that perfect some-thing for the home. It’s also a chance to rub shoulders with the artists; many are from the area.
On August 1-2, it’s all about Bluegrass & Beer, two things that go together nicely in the Colorado mountains. Enjoy the banjo and fiddle and Colorado beer? This fete has it all, and 2020 is the 24th anniversary of this mountain celebration.
On August 15, the Mountain Town Music Festival keeps the hills alive with the sound of music. This free event brings big acts to River Run. In addition, a Colorado food and farm fiesta puts the juicy goodness of everything from corn on the cob to peaches into patrons’ mouths. The edible portion of this event is a cornucopia of textures, aromas and flavors, and it’s all sourced in Colorado. The summer celebration culminates with Oktoberfest on September 5. There are German dancers, German food and of course, lots of beer. Dancing is encouraged and this is, without a doubt, one of the friendliest events in the Colorado mountains. It is hard, after all, to frown while wearing paper suspenders and a feathered hat. More information on summer events can be found at KeystoneFestivals.com.
Eating is a popular pastime while on any vacation and a mountain escape isn’t complete without pizza. Pizza on the Run, located in River Run, makes surprisingly good pizza and it is easy to order one for a late night at the condo.
Staying in River Run means being in the middle of the action. Once, my condo patio overlooked the main stage during Wine & Jazz Festival. This meant I could eat pizza and catch a show all from the comfort of my condo.
Hot tubbing is often done to soothe aching muscles after a day skiing on the slopes but how about after hiking or biking? Every River Run condo comes with hot tub access. Many include a swimming pool.
Lodging in River Run means parking the car and forgetting about it. If it is necessary to leave the resort, Keystone has a free shuttle bus. It is Keystone Resort’s own shuttle system and it makes getting around the community effortless. Need to get to the lake or Outlets at Silverthorne? The Summit Stage offers free public transit to destinations around Summit County.
Even those of us who have called Colorado home for a long time haven’t been over Loveland Pass. I lived in the state for nearly two decades before I made the drive. This route to Keystone is one of the prettiest ways to drive into the mountain community. Highway 6 passes by Loveland Ski Area and Arapahoe Basin and affords impressive views from the Continental Divide.
Whether driving up with the mountain bike on the car or just a good book, Key-stone offers the opportunity to get away from life’s obligations for a while.