The Science and Art of Snowmaking

Posted October 8, 2021


So, how do we actually make snow?! We're glad you asked! Some may say it's science, some say it's art, and we say it's both!

In 2019, we invested in a new, state-of-the-art snowmaking system across some of our early season terrain on Dercum Mountain. The automated and energy-efficient system helps to create a better early season snow surface by detecting ideal snowmaking windows based on temperature and humidity, and also helps the resort to open more terrain, more quickly. This investment in snowmaking helps position Keystone as one of the first resorts to open in Colorado and North America each season! (Psst! In case you missed it, this fancy new snowmaking system propelled us to our earliest opening in more than 20 years in October 2019.)

With this snowmaking project we installed:

  • In total, 53 automated fan guns
    • 22 mobile fan guns
    • 29 tower-mounted fan guns
    • 2 arm-mounted fan guns
    • 10 air/water tower guns
  • 11,000 feet of pipe – more than 2 miles
  • 78,000 feet of electrical cable, that’s almost 15 miles of wire!

So, just how do these snow guns actually make snow? Water, air and cold temperatures are a good start! But it’s quite the science project that would make even Bill Nye proud. 

Keystone snowmaking - Our water source!

Did you know the water our machines use comes from Lake Dillon? Snowmaking is largely non-consumptive, so while we work with local water sources for snowmaking in the early season much of that returns to the local watershed during spring runoff. Check out just how the water comes from the lake, to Keystone snowmaking, then back again!

Snowmaking Control Room

Our snowmaking machines are also really smart! Lights off at night, internal weather systems, and articulating snow guns… These upgrades to Keystone’s existing snowmaking infrastructure take advantage of improved technology to make snow in a more energy-efficient manner.  Watch the video below to take a look inside our snowmaking control room and learn more about the automation benefits of our snowmaking upgrades.

Thanks to this project and, of course a little help from Mother Nature, you can expect to hit the slopes at Keystone as early as October each season. So, join us for endless early season turns as we celebrate the Keystone Kickoff!