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Often overshadowed by its busier Vail Resorts (www.vailresorts.com) peers, Keystone Resort (www.keystoneresort.com) is a standout skiing and snowboarding destination in its own right. First off, it's huge: 3,148 acres of skiable terrain spread over three mountains. There are 20 lifts serving 117 trails. Secondly, it's a self-sufficient resort with plenty of lodging and dining options, as well as easy access to bustling Breckenridge.

Skiers love the tree and mogul skiing here, much of it for advanced skiers only. Keystone is also the prime night-skiing resort in Colorado, open well past sundown Wednesdays through Sundays. Keystone is also beloved by the snowboarding crowd. With its own lift and nicely organized rails and jumps for every skill level, the A51 Terrain Park is considered to be one of the best.

But Keystone is also a terrific family destination -- and it's only getting better. Case in point: the new Dercum Square Ice Rink, with free skating day and night, now complements an existing 5-acre rink. There's also the on-mountain Keystone Kidtopia Snow Fort, complete with a snow maze, snow throne, and snow towers. The resort is offering family activities galore on select Kidtopia Family Weekends, running during holiday weekends and other prime times. There's also a village made of 2,500 pounds of chocolate at Keystone Lodge & Spa (there's even a working chocolate gondola), a tubing area, and family-oriented lessons, including the "Mom, Dad and Me" program where the instructor works with the parents after the lesson so they can pick up where the lesson left off.

What's New at Keystone

Beyond the skating rink, there's also the new "Camp Keystone" lessons, plus the new Asian and bakery stations at the Summit House restaurant. Vail Resorts is also introducing the second generation of its EpicMix app. Now photographers take free photos of guests that are seamlessly sent to a user's EpicMix account, where it can be shared via Facebook and other sites along with stats like vertical feet covered. (The app works not only at Keystone, but all of Vail Resorts' six ski areas.) Additionally, the A51 Terrain Park is better than ever, introducing 25 new features to jib on and jump off this season.

Keystone: Great Ski Deals & Lodging Options

Price-wise, Keystone's lift tickets are in the same ballpark as Vail and Breckenridge (nearing $100 on peak days), but you can always save money by buying your lift tickets online in advance. You get the option of lift tickets good at Keystone as well as Arapahoe Basin or Breckenridge; you save a little by opting for A-Basin. You can save more than 20% off walk-up prices by booking online. Night skiing is also free on the night of your arrival.

You can also save a few bucks by staying in the town of Frisco, 12 miles to the northwest, and taking a free shuttle to the slopes. The Snowshoe Motel (www.snowshoemotel.com) is a good budget bet, with rooms for two starting at $119 per night (non-holiday).

At the resort, the "Ski Free Stay Free" package nets you a free day of skiing and night of lodging when you buy two days and nights (from $97 per person per night). The lodging is at Keystone's original base area, within easy walking distance to the lifts. There's also a limited-time "White Sale" with a buy-one, get-two-free condo deal for the week of Dec. 17-23 (while supplies last).

Quotable

"It's three mountains back to back to back, so it's easy to navigate -- families like that. And once you're in your room or condo, you don't have to get back in your car again -- families love that." -- Amy Kemp of Vail Resorts