Once the ski season winds down in North America, it’s time to start planning those South America ski trips. As it turns to summer in North America, the lifts start spinning for the winter ski season in South America. South America’s Southern Hemisphere location means that the seasons are flipped. So while June marks the beginning of summer in North America, it marks the beginning of the ski season for South America ski resorts. South America’s ski season kicks off in June and goes until October.
Below find our picks for the best ski resorts in South America.
Here are some of best ski resorts in South America
Valle Nevado, Chile
Valle Nevado, one of the best and largest ski destinations in the Southern Hemisphere, features 2,200 acres of varied terrain, 14 lifts, and Chile’s only gondola. Short lift lines and uncrowded slopes provide days of powder skiing after a storm, thanks to its altitude of 9,924 feet. Valle Nevado has a significant amount of terrain for intermediate to advanced skiers and riders, yet it’s comprised of a lot of wide-open, groomed runs for laid-back cruising. Valle Nevado also has a terrain park and nice backcountry terrain. Plus, it’s part of the Ikon Pass, with benefits that include discounts on hotel packages.
For those guests who spend seven nights at the resort, they’ll receive two interconnect tickets to neighboring resorts La Parva and El Colorado, opening up to a massive 7,000 acres of terrain. The three resorts make up Chile’s Tres Valles ski area. For the ultimate ski-in/ski-out lodging experience, stay at the Hotel Nevado.
Valle Nevado and the Tres Valles ski areas are the way to go for first-timers to South America, especially considering its convenience. Valle Nevado is just an hour and a half from Santiago, where many of the major airlines fly into. Learn more about Valle Nevado in our article here.
Ski Portillo, Chile
South America’s oldest ski resort is considered one of the best ski resorts in South America for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the powder skiing that comes after snowstorms that can leave feet of snow. Portillo has little to no lift lines, so skiers and riders can get in run after run on fresh tracks. Portillo has more than 1,200 acres of skiable terrain, with runs suitable for every level of skier and rider. Advanced skiers have a field day here, as the advanced and expert terrain at Portillo is filled with bowls and chutes that can accumulate deep powder.
Portillo’s legendary yellow and blue ski-in/ski-out accommodations, the Hotel Portillo, has just 123 rooms available, so book your lodging in advanced. While there’s not the town and services as traditional ski resorts, there are some other small lodges and cabins available.
Fly into Santiago, which is worth spending a day or two in, and then it’s just 100 miles (160 km) to the slopes. Take a shuttle bus or rent a car.
Las Lenas, Argentina
Las Lenas, in the Mendoza province, is great for families of varied abilities, as it has ample intermediate terrain, much of which are wide runs with a good pitch. Some of its best terrain, and longest runs, is located off the famous Marte double chair. However, it’s the resort’s advanced and expert terrain that makes Las Lenas so special. Advanced skiers can enjoy a layout of 14 ski lifts with vast out-of-bounds terrain all above the tree line. Snowcat tours are available, too. For those who are just learning, Las Lenas’ ski school is multi-lingual.
Las Lenas has a great village and après-ski scene, too. For a South America ski trip to a place that has it all, Las Lenas is it. It’ll just take a little effort to get to, since the resort is in the western part of the Mendoza province. There are flights, however, into San Rafael and Mendoza airports.
La Parva, Chile
La Parva, along with neighboring Valle Nevado and El Colorado, makes up the largest skiable area in South America. Its ski slopes feature 15 lifts accessing more than 2,500 acres of skiable terrain. With an average annual snowfall of 300 inches, La Parva enjoys a lot of powder days. Skiers and riders can’t beat the views of the Santiago Valley on a bluebird day.
As mentioned above, La Parva is part of the Tres Valles ski area, which makes it easy to visit La Parva, Valle Nevado, and El Colorado all in one week. La Parva is just over an hour from Santiago, making it an easy day trip as well.
El Colorado, Chile
El Colorado, the third of the Tres Valles ski resorts, is a cone-shaped peak above the town of Farellones. Of the 3 ski resorts, El Colorado is the ski area that’s most for beginners. As such, it’s much smaller than the other resorts, and is considered more of an affordable, locals’ ski area. Yet intermediate skiers will find a lot of terrain, too. While it’s ideal for beginners and intermediates, advanced skiers will find terrain to love on the resort’s eastern side, which can see huge dumps of snow, and has steep chutes that face Valle Nevado.
Cerro Catedral, Argentina
Bariloche, in Argentina’s Northern Patagonia region, serves as the gateway to Cerro Catedral, which is named for the gothic cathedral-looking granite spirals that sit on top of the mountain. Cerro Catedral is one of the few South America ski resorts with a true base village, featuring ski-in/ski-out accommodations, restaurants, shops, and nightlife. All told there are more than 20 restaurants and bars at Cerro Catedral.
Ski or ride from the top of Cerro Catedral for wide-open snow fields and long gullies, all above the trees, with excellent snow conditions. Half of Cerro Catedral’s 3,000 acres is backcountry terrain, accessed from the La Laguna chairlift. Terrain also includes plenty of tree skiing, chutes and bowls that are best suited for intermediate to expert skiers and snowboarders. Yet beginners will find some nice, easy runs, too.
Cerro Chapelco, Argentina
Cerro Chapelco’s location near the Patagonian village of San Martin de Los Andes puts it squarely within the Lakes District of Patagonia, Argentina. Simply put, its views of Lanin, an icy volcano, and Lake Lácar are unparalleled. Cerro Chapelco’s back bowls offer up an intriguing mix of open to tight chutes that advanced skiers will love. Bountiful tree skiing is spread throughout the resort, too. While Cerro Chapelco has a fairly even mix of terrain for all ability levels, it’s particularly great for intermediate skiers.
Several flights operate daily between Buenos Aires and Chapelco Airport. Additionally, inexpensive van shuttles run between Chapelco and San Martin de los Andes, where an affordable bus departs from the local bus terminal on the weekends.
So what is the best ski resort in South America? Truthfully it comes down to preferences, and what exactly you want from a ski trip in South America.
While this highlights the best ski resorts in South America, check out more South American ski resorts, snow reports, webcams and more here.
Header image ©Valle Nevado