Valle Nevado is the big daddy, La Parva is the rich cousin and El Colorado is the little brother in hand-me-downs – that kind of funky, low-key resort where the lifts are slow and the skiers are generally recreational types who stick to groomed runs. But there are a lot of decent steeps here, and few know that El Colorado can be a gem on a powder day – its east face, in fact, usually receives the largest dumps in the Three Valleys area. I’ve been here on a weekday after a storm and felt like there were only ten other people on the mountain. The steep chutes that face Valle Nevado are especially good, with a nearly vertical T-bar lift that can be either fun or a butt-burner, depending on your perspective. During the early season when there is little coverage the wind can whip the west face until it’s totally bald, or turn snow into bulletproof conditions. The resort wraps around a cone-shaped mountain above treeline so you can pick a line anywhere you want – there are loads of off-piste runs here, and they have a snowpark.
The best thing about this resort is that it is closest to Santiago, and that a small and ramshackle village called Farallones spreads out below and offers loads of economical lodging options, including a backpacker’s hostel, the Posada Farallones, and the resort’s own apartments, which I’ve stayed in and can vouch for as being much more comfortable than La Parva’s. There is a small “resort” also called Farallones that connects with El Colorado and is mostly beginner runs and a tubing center popular with nonskiers up from Santiago.
I’d say this is a good resort if you want a) a shorter stay than demanded by Valle Nevado or b) something cheaper on the lodging side. El Colorado sits smack dab between Valle and La Parva, so one day you ski El Colorado, the next buy an interconnect ticket and ski Valle, then the third day shuttle the 10 minutes over to La Parva and ski there.