My Mountain: Keystone

Bringing young children on a ski vacation is a big deal.

Will they like their lessons?

Is there enough for them to do?

What if they don’t want to ski?

How will you entertain them?

Zabel and Todd Parrott

Local dad Todd Parrott has one word for you: Keystone.

For Parrott and his wife, Jill, Colorado’s Keystone Resort is a way of life—and that extends to their six-year-old son, Zabel.

Whether he’s shredding the mountain on his pint-sized snowboard or exploring the giant on-mountain snow fort, Zabel is a kid who loves adventure—and Keystone makes it easy on his parents.

“A lot of it goes back to the accessibility,” Parrott says.

“Everything is right here.”

Parrott is talking about the things that make life as a parent that much smoother on the mountain.

For example: Parking and unloading the car in the morning is an endeavor that includes skis, boots, lunches, boards, helmets, and a walk to the base.

It might seem like a lot to manage, but at Keystone, it’s no problem.

You can load up your family’s gear in one of the wagons stationed in the (free) parking lot and haul your stuff to the lifts, making the start to your day hassle-free.

Convenient arrival: Check.

But keeping your little shredders entertained—even if they love the slopes—is an all-day affair.

Luckily, Keystone has you covered.

“In winter,” Parrott says, “no one else has as much for kids.”

Besides village perks like the ice skating rink, free cookies, and fire pits to warm your hands, Keystone’s Kidtopia program is unparalleled, he says.

When the under-10 set have hit their limit on the trails, the Kidtopia room in Dercum Square gives them another outlet to expunge their energy with games and activities (think hoola hoops, dress-up, and life-sized board games).

“A lot of times,” Parrott says, “we can grab lunch in the village while we’re skiing and just let him run and play.”

Bonus: If you’re in town on a Saturday, the 4:30 p.m.

Ripperoo Parade through the village (kids are welcome to join the procession) is a big winner.

“It makes kids feel really cool,” Parrott says.

“A lot of Vail Resorts employees march in it, too.

Ripperoo Parade

In fact, our friends are in town this weekend, and we’re going to send them to it.”

Got kiddos with avid imaginations or insatiable curiosity?

Maybe they’d dig a Kidtopia scavenger hunt, or a guided Bigfoot hunt through the woods along Keystone’s Snake River.

They might even (definitely will) see some mysterious (pre-made) Bigfoot imprints in the snow along the way.

Ask at the Kidtopia headquarters in Dercum Square.

Parrott’s other family favorites?

Taking the crew to Der Fondue Chessel, an authentic fondue restaurant on North Peak, which requires two gondola rides to the summit (there’s something exciting about riding the gondola after ski hours).

Sleigh Ride

Or, a nighttime sleigh ride to Keystone’s rustic back ranch.

Plus, the not-to-be-missed on-mountain tubing park is a rush for both kids and adults.

“We don’t like to sit still,” says Parrott, who works in commercial lending sales for Sierra Pacific Windows.

“We love the resort lifestyle.

There’s so much to do.”

Rest assured, though, that Keystone’s family-friendly reputation and smorgasbord of off-slope activities don’t overshadow the acres upon acres of terrain that thrills its share of hard-charging riders and skiers.

One of the biggest draws to the mountain, Parrott says, is its diverse mix of trails, from small terrain parks for Zabel to back bowl skiing for him and his grown children.

It’s truly a mountain for everyone.

Right now, though, it’s all about the adventures of a six-year-old.

Parrott recalls Zabel’s first time on a snowboard, in 2010.

“I remember picking him up, strapping him on the board, carrying him up the little hill,” he says, “and just letting him go…first 10 feet, than 20 feet.

The next year—he would have been two—we took him up the lift.

He’s kind of grown up with something strapped to his feet in the winter.

And now, probably once a week, he wakes up and asks to go snowboarding.

It’s a dad’s dream.”


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