Keystone, Colorado is the largest ski mountain in Summit County, consisting of three mountains, Dercum Mountain, North Peak, the Outback, and 5 Bowls (Independence, Ericsson, Bergman, North and South Bowls). Keystone's location at the base of Loveland Pass, a location for the Continental Divide, and just a few miles off I-70 makes it extremely convenient for anyone traveling from Denver. Keystone is also the closest place to stay for those who would like to ski Arapahoe Basin, where a summit altitude of 13,050' insures the best snow conditions in Colorado.
December 21, 2015
While visiting Keystone, a friend lent me his condo and I drove around this area quite a bit, which I am describing as the Keystone area. I visited the end of May through most of June, 2015.
Let's start with something you might not expect — the town of Montezuma. It is about five miles from Keystone, in the upper valley of the Snake River, just west of the Continental Divide. Simply take Hwy S to the east off Hwy 6 which will then twist a bit to the south and you'll quickly come to the town. Montezuma is at about 10,200 ft. elevation.
It is a kind of semi-ghost town with some people living far round and some vacation homes. It was founded in the 1860s by prospectors and was once the largest town in the region. Today it has some of the most popular backcountry skiing, biking, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and hiking trails in Summit County. Montezuma is listed as one of Colorado's top scenic places in John Fielder's Best of Colorado.
I must acknowledge that we did not explore much while there. I was frankly taken aback by the town Here are some photos.
The view of the mountain ahead as you enter town — I'm guessing but I think it is Lenawee Mountain
I think this is the town square!
Continental Divide near Loveland Pass
To see the Continental Divide in this region, I went to Loveland Pass, elevation 11,990 ft. Loveland is on Hwy 6 and is the highest mountain pass in the world that regularly stays open during a snowy winter season, though snowplowing can be tricky. The grade is a steep, steady 6.7% grade and there are numerous hairpin turns. Avalanches can be a problem, some occurring naturally, some induced. I have been told artillery is sometimes fired from distances away to force an avalanche. I was there on May 29 and the pass was closed several times. It can be very treacherous in winter. Most traffic takes the nearby I-70 which avoids the pass as the result of the Eisenhower Tunnel.
In looking at a map, it is hard to understand why one would want to take the pass as it simply connects to I-70 (top highway) from Hwy 6 (lower highway). One could take Hwy 6 west to I-70. But as you read more and more, you find that the views of the mountain range are fantastic while in the pass, you get to experience crossing the Continental Divide up here rather than going under it as I-70 does, and if you are a hearty skier, then this is must on your bucket list.
I did not cross the pass, just stood there in awe, admiring the beauty, and taking a few photos.
Of course, I have to prove to you I was there. I am at the southern end of the pass.
I love this photo as it shows the divide, and it shows two hearty souls climbing up to the peak here. You probably cannot see them, so let me show them to you.
So there they are!
Arapaho Basin Ski Area
Just prior to approaching Loveland Pass, you come upon the Arapaho Basin Ski area. It sits at the base of the Continental Divide with over 100 carved trails. Half of the mountain is above timberline with open bowl skiing and snowboarding through spring and into early summer. One of its signature runs, Pallavicini, is one of Colorado's longest and steepest trails.
The surrounding landscape is utterly fantastic.
Dillon Reservoir, sometimes referred to as Lake Dillon, is a large fresh water reservoir located in Summit County, Colorado, south of I-70 and bordered by the towns of Frisco, Silverthorne, and Dillon. It is a reservoir for the city of Denver, and its waters are under the control of Denver Water.
The spring snow melt fills the reservoir.
There is much in this area "Keystone area" I did not photograph, though I did visit. I regret now I failed to take the shots.