Snowboarding in Keystone // A Beginner’s Review

Feb 21, 2019

There’s nothing quite like living an hour away from one of the snow sport capitals of the world. When we moved to Denver, I had only seen snow maybe five times in my life and therefore obviously had no experience snowboarding. Luckily my boyfriend is an amazing snowboarder & is patient enough to teach me and have fun despite me stumbling my way down the mountain. I feel very blessed to have been able to learn this sport at Keystone & I would suggest it to anyone who is as excited and nervous as I was! I have never been the most athletic so I was terrified of both the learning process and possible failure. That being said, when I looked at the map of Keystone when we were talking about going there, I about crapped my knickers. There are a ton of runs and I had no idea where to even start. Regardless, I was armed with the knowledge of multiple YouTube videos and advice from friends, and we headed up anyway.

Me & My Friend, Monica on the Gondola

When I first started, I thought there was only one bunny slope (the easiest runs) called Discovery which is located at the base of the mountain right next to the North parking lot. This was extraordinarily convenient to get to and it helped my confidence to be able to walk up to the slope and not have to ride a lift to the top of the mountain. Little did I know, if you get on the gondola at River Run, it takes you to the top of the mountain and there are two bunny slopes up there! Now that I know about these runs, I much prefer them over Discovery. As you venture further up the mountain, the snow is softer, the view is better, and there’s a lodge at the top for when you get worn out. It’s very nice to have a place to use the restroom and get some food in the middle of the day without having to go all the way back down the mountain. At both of the introductory runs (at the top and bottom of the mountain) there are conveyer belts that you can stand on which take you back up the slope. These are nice to use on your first day or two until you figure out how to ride the lift. Both of the runs also have pretty small lifts for when you get to that point.

Having multiple slopes to ride on as a beginner is important so you learn different skills. Each slope is different and if you only grow accustomed to a perfectly groomed gradual slope, you’ll be thrown into a loop when you go on a harder run that curves, has flat spots, moguls, and trees along it. Each of the three learning areas at Keystone are very different & will cause you to become a more versatile rider by default if you practice on all three. What is also really nice about the two runs at the top of the mountain is how they continue beyond the standard end point. Meaning, when you’re first starting, you go down a short stint of the slope then get on the belt or lift to go back up. Then when you start to improve, you can go beyond the standard end point that you were stopping at, making the run twice as long but still easy enough that you can do it confidently. On Discovery at the bottom of the mountain, it is simply the one short slope that you go up and down.

On the Bunny Hill  (Back When I Had Braces)

Tofu Bowl from the Lodge

At the Top of Schoomarm

Once you get good enough to stay upright the majority of the time (or close to that anyway), Keystone has a green run called Schoolmarm that runs all the way from the top to the bottom of the mountain. This run is definitely a good way to gauge your skill progress as you’re starting to improve. The slope is not difficult to go down as far as technicality but it is definitely a long one so you’ll quickly find out how much endurance you have in you. While you’re learning, you have to dig in either your heels or toes a lot more than when you’re a better rider, so your toes and calves will definitely be talking to you by the time you get to the bottom. It’ll be worth it though; it feels very rewarding to be able to say you rode a 3.5-mile long run as a newbie! Until then, you can just take the gondola back to the bottom of the mountain and head straight for the beer.
One big downside to Keystone (and snowboarding in general) is the price. One day at Keystone will run you about $125 give or take, and a pass that will allow you to ride as many days as you want in a season is upwards of $500. This is a general downside to any ski resort though as they are all pricey. It’s generally more cost effective to get a season pass and try to go at least five days but if you’re just visiting Colorado and trying the sport out, a day pass is the way to go.

View from The Top of Keystone

My Buddy, Evan, on His First Day

I’ve really enjoyed learning this new sport and have only good things to say about Keystone as a place to learn. It can be a very frustrating process both mentally and physically but once you see yourself make some good progress, it’s extremely rewarding. I’m very glad I didn’t let myself get deterred by the intimidating run map in the beginning! Stick with it and accept that you’re going to fall… a lot, and you’ll find yourself flying down those slopes one day!