Resort Scorecard

Snowsure


Beginners


Intermediate


Advanced


Snowboarders


Après Ski


Families


Base elevation: 2,250 metres (El Colorado)

Top elevation: 3,670 metres (Valle Nevado)

Number of lifts: 16 (Valle Nevado) / 14 (La Parva) / 20 (El Colorado)

Number of runs: 41 (Valle Nevado) / 21 (La Parva) / 70 (El Colorado)

Access: From Santiago it takes 90 minutes by road to get up to the ski resorts.

“Three Valleys” with three separate ski resorts, interconnecting to create a super-large ski zone - sound familiar? This is Chile’s largest skiable area, with more than 100 runs and 40 lifts. Throw in dependable snow cover, gorgeously-groomed runs, dramatic views of the Andes, one of the Latin world’s liveliest capitals down in the valley and some fun off-piste. There you have it, South America’s premier, most modern, most inclusive ski mecca. And it’s only 35 miles outside of Santiago - a blessing midweek but an absolute curse over weekends. This is the capital city’s ‘local’ mountain.

Valle Nevado is the centre-piece. Purpose-built, efficient lifts, high-rise ski-in, ski-out hotels and an extensive and varied ski terrain.

La Parva is where the Santiagan upper-middle-classes choose to ski, and the village is largely made up of private condos. It’s expensive and exclusive, but, for our money, the skiing is best here and given that La Parva is slightly closer to Santiago than Valle Nevado, this makes for an excellent ‘day’ resort.

El Colorado is the third resort - not as glitzy as its neighbours, considered more of an affordable locals’ ski area.

Skiing in Valle Nevado, La Parva & El Colorado

Theoretically, it’s all one interlinked ski area. However, it’s most definitely not. It comes as a surprise to many when they realise the resorts can’t be accessed as easily from one another as one would first think. Decent skiers can just about get between resorts - the small valleys connecting can be a lot of fun and usually hold excellent snow, although often the required lift connections are closed due to weather or avalanche conditions.

The other fly in the ointment is that multi or dual lift tickets are required to head from one resort to another and these are priced high, meaning that it costs almost the equivalent of buying separate lift tickets for each resort. All told, the co-operation between the resorts leaves much to be desired. Most pick a resort for the day and stick to it.

Valle Nevado loosely translates to “snowy valley”, and powder days can be epic thanks to a phenomenon whereby the abundant snow is often dumped (or blown) in the resort’s natural bowl, even if neighbouring resorts only receive a few inches. There are a good variety of wide-open runs with plenty of off-piste accessible close to the marked trails.  The lift system is second-to-no-other in South America, with a detachable quad chair, a gondola, several more chair lifts and surface lifts which come in to their own during the sometimes windy conditions.

Those who enjoy big turns will find La Parva the best - long and wide groomers keep you thoroughly entertained.  Fourteen lifts access 30 square kilometers of skiable perfection - ample and varied terrain with runs for all levels and some off-piste / backcountry lines which dreams are made from.

Only a few of the trails in Valle Nevado and Parva are rated as green, but don’t let this put you off - there is plenty of terrain for novices. In Valle Nevado the nursery slopes are conveniently adjacent to the hotels and at the top of the gondola there are a couple more slopes good for ski schools and first timers.

The Tres Valles region – in it’s entirety – is the stuff of dreams. Long and wide groomers are the order of the day. Though there are numerous steeps trails to be found if you fancy a challenge, this terrain is more about giant turns and feeling the edges bite. No wonder why many international ski racing teams train here.

For those keen to progress and dip their skis in to something more challenging, this is a great place to take tentative steps in to the powder surrounding the pistes. A veritable playground.

Sometimes one or two of the black runs are groomed, which make them accessible to strong intermediates. Sometimes not, so it’s over to those with the confidence and ability to take them on. There are numerous treasures on the fringes of the resorts, including monstrous mogul fields and some pulse-increasing vertical drops.

The real attraction for advanced skiers and boarders is in the unmarked off-piste areas. It’s not always particularly steep, but the challenge comes in the form of interesting natural features such as gullies and little rocks to leap off.

The ‘hike-to’ terrain in the backcountry can test your courage and there is a real mix of lines between rocky outcrops with varying amounts of vertical drop, and the degree of gnarliness can be epic. Needless to say, if you have a guide you’ll be able to find the best lines much easier.

There is some great backcountry terrain between Valle Nevado and El Colorado, with some of the best routes leading down to the road. Be careful, there are some unskiable cliffs in this area so an appropriate line needs to be very carefully scoped.

Then there’s the heli-skiing, which van be booked for a run, a full day or more. We’ll need to book in advance, as this is considered world-class heli-skiing, rated the best in South America.  The Bell 407 helicopter takes five people accompanied by a guide to peaks of up to almost 14,000 feet where you’ll find magnificent, unexplored valleys. Whether you are an experienced heli-skier or you are taking your first step (into a world from which there is no coming back!), there is enough terrain that pleases all interests and levels.

There is much to go at, following the lines taken by the skiers. However, due to the lack of steepness in some places there are a few dead spots to avoid. Particularly when the powder is deep and heavy, snowboarders will need to keep up plenty of speed.

In Valle Nevado there is a little terrain park just below the hotel. However, better is the larger park next to the Candonga lift, offering big thrills for the better riders. This park includes jumps, rails, boxes and a quarter pipe.

For guests staying at the Valle Nevada Hotel, there is a children’s daycare facility for three to seven year olds.  This will take the kids off your hands from 9am to 1pm and then again from 2pm until 6pm – lunch is your responsibility.

There are ski lessons for children from four to seven years old.

Comfortable hotels, delicious food, several bars and a nightclub make Valle Nevado one of the most happening resorts in South America (particularly popular with Brazilians). It’s the one that most easily measures up to sophisticated international expectations. After a full day on the slopes we’d recommend the stretching classes that take place at the gym, although we concede its often easier and more tempting to simply head to the outdoor hot tub and hang out with a cerveza until the sun goes down.

At night a popular meeting point is the Lounge Bar at the Valle Nevado hotel - this is the place in which to share exaggerated stories of your day on the slopes. For dinner restaurants offer Chilean, French, Italian and other international options – there are six restaurants to choose from. Not done? Head to the Tres Puntas hotel bar where live music is on all night and the local disco takes care of those who just don’t know when bed time is.

Only a few of the trails in Valle Nevado and Parva are rated as green, but don’t let this put you off - there is plenty of terrain for novices. In Valle Nevado the nursery slopes are conveniently adjacent to the hotels and at the top of the gondola there are a couple more slopes good for ski schools and first timers.

The Tres Valles region – in it’s entirety – is the stuff of dreams. Long and wide groomers are the order of the day. Though there are numerous steeps trails to be found if you fancy a challenge, this terrain is more about giant turns and feeling the edges bite. No wonder why many international ski racing teams train here.

For those keen to progress and dip their skis in to something more challenging, this is a great place to take tentative steps in to the powder surrounding the pistes. A veritable playground.

Sometimes one or two of the black runs are groomed, which make them accessible to strong intermediates. Sometimes not, so it’s over to those with the confidence and ability to take them on. There are numerous treasures on the fringes of the resorts, including monstrous mogul fields and some pulse-increasing vertical drops.

The real attraction for advanced skiers and boarders is in the unmarked off-piste areas. It’s not always particularly steep, but the challenge comes in the form of interesting natural features such as gullies and little rocks to leap off.

The ‘hike-to’ terrain in the backcountry can test your courage and there is a real mix of lines between rocky outcrops with varying amounts of vertical drop, and the degree of gnarliness can be epic. Needless to say, if you have a guide you’ll be able to find the best lines much easier.

There is some great backcountry terrain between Valle Nevado and El Colorado, with some of the best routes leading down to the road. Be careful, there are some unskiable cliffs in this area so an appropriate line needs to be very carefully scoped.

Then there’s the heli-skiing, which van be booked for a run, a full day or more. We’ll need to book in advance, as this is considered world-class heli-skiing, rated the best in South America.  The Bell 407 helicopter takes five people accompanied by a guide to peaks of up to almost 14,000 feet where you’ll find magnificent, unexplored valleys. Whether you are an experienced heli-skier or you are taking your first step (into a world from which there is no coming back!), there is enough terrain that pleases all interests and levels.

There is much to go at, following the lines taken by the skiers. However, due to the lack of steepness in some places there are a few dead spots to avoid. Particularly when the powder is deep and heavy, snowboarders will need to keep up plenty of speed.

In Valle Nevado there is a little terrain park just below the hotel. However, better is the larger park next to the Candonga lift, offering big thrills for the better riders. This park includes jumps, rails, boxes and a quarter pipe.

For guests staying at the Valle Nevada Hotel, there is a children’s daycare facility for three to seven year olds.  This will take the kids off your hands from 9am to 1pm and then again from 2pm until 6pm – lunch is your responsibility.

There are ski lessons for children from four to seven years old.

Comfortable hotels, delicious food, several bars and a nightclub make Valle Nevado one of the most happening resorts in South America (particularly popular with Brazilians). It’s the one that most easily measures up to sophisticated international expectations. After a full day on the slopes we’d recommend the stretching classes that take place at the gym, although we concede its often easier and more tempting to simply head to the outdoor hot tub and hang out with a cerveza until the sun goes down.

At night a popular meeting point is the Lounge Bar at the Valle Nevado hotel - this is the place in which to share exaggerated stories of your day on the slopes. For dinner restaurants offer Chilean, French, Italian and other international options – there are six restaurants to choose from. Not done? Head to the Tres Puntas hotel bar where live music is on all night and the local disco takes care of those who just don’t know when bed time is.

Getting There

Santiago – with it’s international airport, buzzing restaurants, luxurious hotels and cosmopolitan culture – is just 90 minutes away (35 miles). However, the road up here from the city is rather special, comprised of 80 hairpin turns, each of which is numbered and named after a well-known Chilean citizen.

The road is subject to one-way restrictions. On weekends and holidays the road is one-way for drivers heading uphill between 8am and 2pm. The road is only open to downhill traffic from 4pm to 8pm. Two-way traffic is possible at other times.

There are various inexpensive daily shuttles from Santiago up to Valle Nevado, but these are largely operated by transport companies that have ties to equipment rental shops (you may have to wait for hours whilst a customer gets kitted out). We struggle to book these in advance and reliability has been a huge concern in the past. Therefore, with us it’ll be private transfers – for convenience, dependability and to maximize your time on the slopes.

Resort Scorecard

Snowsure


Beginners


Intermediate


Advanced


Snowboarders


Après Ski


Families


Base elevation: 2,250 metres (El Colorado)

Top elevation: 3,670 metres (Valle Nevado)

Number of lifts: 16 (Valle Nevado) / 14 (La Parva) / 20 (El Colorado)

Number of runs: 41 (Valle Nevado) / 21 (La Parva) / 70 (El Colorado)

Access: From Santiago it takes 90 minutes by road to get up to the ski resorts.