Skiing in Chile – here’s what you need to know about the best skiing and ski resorts in Chile.
Chile is the world’s narrowest country and home to a breathtaking diversity of landscapes. This has established the country as one of the world’s top outdoor adventure destinations.
The string-bean nation is squeezed between the snowcapped peaks of the Andes Mountains and 3,000 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline. It has a Mars-like desert in the north and a windswept Patagonia wilderness in the south. In between, the country overflows with volcanoes, rushing rivers, lush temperate rainforest and fjords, fertile valleys and vineyards galore.
Chile is also a paradise for skiers and snowboarders. Skiers consider heading south to Chile during the Northern Hemisphere’s summer to be a rite of passage. Especially for those wanting to experience the mammoth Andes terrain, where lift lines are the exception, not the norm.
Renowned for being one of the most exotic locations for summer vacationers, it houses wonders such as the Easter Island Heads and Valaporia, a World Heritage Site city.
The ski-season is also an early one which starts by June and finishes by October. This ends up bringing many skiers flocking to its snow sure peaks before they head off to other locations. From the North to the South, Chile has plenty of snow resorts and the following are some of the best ones:
Valle Nevado offers some of the best skiing in Chile
Valle Nevado is Chile’s most modern ski resort, with upscale infrastructure and plenty of lodging, shopping and dining options. The resort is close to Santiago and totally above treeline. Well-groomed slopes and an abundance of off-piste gullies and rollers gives the feel of a natural terrain park.
Valle Nevado, is the most famous ski resort of the Tres Valles (The Three Valleys) of Chile. The other two sections of the Three Valley resorts, being El Colorado and La Parva. The combined skiable domain of the Three Valleys is a whopping 7000 acres, making it the largest skiable area in entire South America.
The literal translation of Valle Nevado means ‘The Snowy Valley’ and it surely lives up to its name. Valle Nevado ski resort has about 2,200 acres of the skiable domain. Powder snow fans can enjoy slopes going all the way down towards the breathtaking Andean Valleys.
This adds adventure to the traditional off-piste areas with remarkably perfect snow. Valle Nevado is the best choice for snowboarders, skiers, off-piste and heli-skiing fans.
The skiing season is at the peak from mid-June to late-September because the weather is ideal for skiing and snowboarding. The best time to visit Valle Nevado is from June to October. The ski season is at its peak during July.
The sun shines brightly on most days, but the high altitude and orientation of Valle Nevado maintain excellent dry powder snow conditions. Skiers can spend hours enjoying the well-groomed slopes, backcountry, and bowls.
During snowstorms, Valle Nevado gets its fair share of snow from its neighboring La Parva and El Colorado due to its vast backcountry. The vast backcountry allows more snow to blow into the resort. This provides it with thick powder in more significant quantities as compared to its two neighbouring resorts.
The extra dense powder makes Valle Nevado the ultimate choice for freestyle and freeriding with a unique terrain park that links it with La Parva and El Colorado.
Valle Nevado ski center has one of the most sophisticated and advanced lift systems in South America. It includes the only high-speed detachable quad chairlift called Andes Express, which was installed in 2001.
The slopes and loops are challenging and adventurous with more than 7000 acres of riding. The 35 groomed trails offer beautiful off-piste terrain in the meadows. The resort provides Super Half Pipe for the second season.
Vella Nevado offers a happening nightlife – all depending on the number of Brazilians visiting the resort. Brazilians are avid party fans and a large number of them brings a positive party vibe to the otherwise slightly above average nightlife for those who love to party all night.
Skiers can also enjoy a bite to eat at the Bajo Zero Restaurant which is situated around 10,498 meters above ski level and is accessible with the help of the gondola. Depending on your budget, you can select any one of the three central hotels, private condos, and flats.
Celebrating 71 years in 2020, world-famous Ski Portillo is a throwback to a more relaxed era of skiing, centred around the sunny-yellow iconic Hotel Portillo and fronting the shimmering Inca Lake.
Known for its steeps, “cruise-ship-in-the-sky” friendly ambiance, old-world architecture and as a weeklong, package-driven resort that draws return guests year after year. Ski Portillo also draws international ski teams and a host of who’s-who during August.
Portillo is renowned not only for being the oldest but also for offering ski runs and peaks where records are made and skiing reputations are cemented.
Many skiers visiting the resort for the first time have made the mistake of underestimating the size of the resort. The resort is not big by any margins, with skiable terrain standing of 500 acres and 35 marked trails.
Take the Poma lift and head to the Roca Jack for an off-piste skiing adventure on steep runs. Traversable off-piste offers some deep chutes including the incredible Super C Couloir.
Skiers are advised to proceed with caution as the off-piste skiing locations are not patrolled or maintained by the resort administration. Expert skiers will love the challenging unmarked obstacles and dangerous terrain of Portillo.
Most expert skiers proceed with caution in the backcountry, as there is a constant risk of avalanche and ski guides are reluctant to venture into the off-piste.
In 1966, Jean Claude Killy, a French skier, won his gold medal in Portillo whereas Steve McKinney, an American skier, made a record by exceeding the speed of 200kph when skiing here.
The resort is family friendly with not only fun activities for children but also offering a heated pool outdoors and a restaurant that produces high quality, hearty fare for tired skiers.
La Parva offers some of the best skiing in Chile
The smallest of the Three Valleys resorts caters mainly to upscale locals from Santiago. With nearly 1km of vertical descent and a solid amount of terrain for advanced/expert skiers, this resort packs a punch.
Located in the same valley as Valle Nevado, La Parva also boasts one of the largest ski areas in South America. Tourists flock to it not only for the skiing opportunities but also for the breath taking panoramic views.
With over 520 hectares of skiable area, La Parva is a resort offering off-piste to intermediate and expert skiers. The off-piste locations are dependent on the amount of snowfall the resort receives every year.
Most of La Parva’s off-piste’s are located in a treeless terrain. This offers skiers speedy runs on the steep dry powder runs.
The La Aguilas area is a location for advanced skiers seeking some of the best off-piste skiing in South America. Advanced skiers have to take a small hike to reach the off-pistes locations in resort namely the Sector Parva Chica. The La Chiminea run the biggest challenging run in the off-piste terrain of La Parva.
La Parva is equipped with one of the best lift systems in South America. Skiers have to take the new chairlift to reach the Valley of Fabres. Here they will find plenty of chutes and cornices for some thigh-burning skiing.
The “village” is a cluster of privately owned condominiums and a handful of shops and restaurants, but most visitors to La Parva dine in and keep to themselves once off the slopes.
The breathtaking views are visible from any hotel room you might take in the resort. Coupled with fine dining options, available through renowned restaurants such as La Berra and La Marmita de Perciles, La Parva is a popular ski resort of choice during the skiing season.
The close proximity to the local village also provides further accommodation choices and gives a quaint aura to La Parva.
El Colorado also offers some of the best skiing in Chile
Connected to the mountain village Farellones, El Colorado ski resort is closest to Santiago and very popular with Chileans. The cone-shaped mountain is often the first to open (as early as May) but the first to close too.
While the area has plenty of easier terrain and loads of other activities like tubing, and a raucous après ski and nightlife, there is more than meets the eye.
El Colorado offers a total of 1,110 acres which are further divided into 22 trails of varying levels of difficulty. Ski equipment rental is also available with ease and close proximity to Santiago, La Parva and Valle Nevado provides plenty of accommodation and skiing opportunities.
The third ski resort which makes up the range of ski resorts counted in the Los Tres Valles de los Andes, El Colorado is popularly favoured by families because of the family friendly activities it has to offer.
Kids can enrol for skiing classes while there are also plenty of skiing opportunities available for beginners, intermediate and advanced skiers.
Nevados de Chillan too offers some of the best skiing in Chile
Nevados de Chillan spreads across the skirt of an active volcano and offers tree skiing and hot springs. One of the largest ski resorts in Chile, the ski resort can be reached via a 6-hour drive or a short flight from Concepción.
The resort has over 32 runs with a 700m vertical drop and a supreme elevation of 2500m. The rural style of the resort will to excite and surprise the off-piste skier’s thanks to its annual average snowfall averaging at 10 cm per year.
With nine lifts and 24700 acres of skiable terrain offers sufficient skiing options for every skill level. There is plenty of powder on steep slopes is ideal for off-piste skiing.
Nevados de Chillan is famous for having the longest trail for skiing in South America. Las Tres Marias runs for a total of 8 miles with different terrain cutting into it, making it challenging and perfect for endurance focused athletes.
Resort-based ski-in/ski-out lodging as well as a sundry of other lodging and dining options are available in nearby Las Trancas. Nevados is rustic but more than makes up for it with its highly varied terrain and abundance of touring options.
Accommodations are also easy to find here but the resort can get a little crowded as it is in close proximity to Concepción.
Some other resorts to consider
Located on the slopes of the Volcán Pucón, the Ski Pucon resort offers one of the most adventurous skiing opportunities ever. The place is naturally blessed with gullies and pipes that become a snowboarder’s dream once the snow blankets them. Skiing opportunities are also available abundantly because of the terrain.
The resort offers plenty of promotions, discounts, packages and deals on the accommodation and skiing passes. With a mini-club, cafes, bars, restaurants and more, Ski Pucon also offers an active nightlife after one has spent a day exploring the slopes and runs here.
Antillanca offers some of the best skiing in Chile
Situated near a volcano, Antillanca is located on the slopes of Casablanca and is treasured by ski lovers everywhere. The name Antillanca means ‘the Jewel of the Sun’.
With steep slopes as well as runs that spread across Mirador and Mount. Haique, Antillanca is a favourite among skiers and snowboarders for its adventurous terrain.
With a ski school, families and beginners can easily sign up for ski classes. Accommodations here are easily available. The resort also offers facilities such as a heated pool, sauna, cinema and even a disco.
Chile offers some of the most picturesque, family friendly, breathtaking and adventurous skiing opportunities in the world! Skiing in Chile gives one the perfect excuse to escape the northern hemisphere summer.
Chile offers some of the best powder in the world and is a paradise for powder hounds!