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Keystone December Skiing

Keystone in December: Overview


  • Keystone averages 77% open at the end of December on Christmas, a very respectable number that is helped by the mellow terrain (steeper terrain is requires more snow) and the extensive snowmaking capacity at the resort
  • Keystone is less than half open at Christmas in only 25% of winters, making it a fine bet for a holiday ski trip
  • Keystone usually ranks among the first resorts to open in Colorado, thanks to its high base elevation of 9,280 feet and its snowmaking
  • Keystone has great terrain for families and is a great mountain to keep smaller and larger skiers interested during a 5-7 day trip
  • Extensive dining options throughout the different base areas. In all cases during the holidays: get reservations and try to eat early. If you're trying to get into the Ski Tip, book your slot in the summer!


  • While Keystone is one of the cheaper options in central Colorado, prices are always sharper at the end of December, especially in this part of the state
  • Skiers have to fly to Denver, which requires a trek up into the mountains that usually lasts two hours, if there is no traffic. Skiers heading to Beaver Creek and Vail have a viable option in Eagle-Vail, which has a lot of non-stops during the holidays and for most of the winter, but that airport is a full 90 minutes from Keystone and not worth the added expense compared to Denver
  • Keystone's record at getting terrain open for Christmas is solid and getting even better thanks to its snowmaking, but there are winters when the steeper woods terrain is not open for Christmas as it requires more natural snow

Keystone can be a great play for families seeking a more laid-back scene compared with some of the other Vail-owned resorts in central Colorado. This is especially true during the holidays, when crowds and prices are all peaking.

Keystone is a cheaper option compared with Vail, Beaver Creek and even Breckenridge and in many cases it's friendlier for families.

Keystone snow in December

Data show December is the fifth best month Keystone for overall snow quality when considering the following factors:

  • Snow quantity at Keystone
  • Snow quality at Keystone
  • How much snow is required for proper terrain coverage at Keystone—steeper resorts require more snow to get 100% open.
  • Keystone's snow frequency (standard deviation)
  • Keystone's elevation
  • Keystone's latitude
  • Keystone's slope aspects - more north-facing slopes protect snow later into winter
Keystone snow score by month, December in focus

What matters when it comes to snow for December skiing:

Finding good snow early in the season is often a game of chance. But there are mountains and regions that historically perform better than others. We take these factors into account when grading out our scores for resorts and the given season. That said, it's almost always a better bet, in terms of snow and open terrain, to ski in January or Feburary compared with December.

But skiing during the December holidays is a great tradition and it's also one of the only times many families can get away for extended periods.

Those skiing December should look for ski resorts with high average annual snowfalls and low standard deviations. In addition, steep and rocky ski resorts need more snow to get terrain open compared with ski resorts with more modest terrain.

This is also the time of year when slope aspects—north, east, south, west—matter the least. The sun is at it lowest angles in North America in December and has less effect on the snowpack at this time of year than at any other. So ski resorts that possess lots of south-facing and east-facing terrain will generally ski better—assuming there is enough snow—during these darkest times of winter rather than the spring. More explanation on this topic can be found on our snow rankings page.

Keystone skiing by month:
By Month