Andean Ski Resorts

Exploring the Fjords of Patagonia, Garibaldi Fjord and Glacier., (photo by Richard Nowitz)
Exploring the Fjords of Patagonia, Garibaldi Fjord and Glacier.

If you’re itching to get on the mountain, but planned your winter escape too late, don’t panic! If you start planning now, you can enjoy a summer break to a winter wonderland down south. The ski season in Chile runs from June to October, drawing winter sports enthusiasts from all over the world to its top-class resorts.

There are five ski centers near Santiago: Portillo, Valle Nevado, El Colorado, La Parva, and Lagunillas. All of them are located in the same area about 50km (31 miles) from Santiago except Portillo, which is 164km (102 miles) away, close to the border with Argentina.


The road to Farellones, the village at the base of the El Colorado, La Parva, and Valle Nevado slopes, winds narrow and steep through the cordillera, following most of the Mapocho River Canyon deep into the Andes. This is an excellent day trip whatever the season, but snow chains are required in winter (they’re available for rental where the road begins) and the road gets very crowded. Careful driving is essential at any time of year. Access to the road is controlled by the police in winter, and on weekends and public holidays. Drivers are allowed to head up until 2pm, but it’s best to start the journey early in the morning. Cars can begin the return descent only after 4pm. Warm clothes are essential, whatever the temperature in Santiago when you leave. Snow usually begins in June and lasts until September.

El Colorado

The center closest to Farellones, this provides excellent conditions, and equipment rental and classes can be arranged there. It has 19 lifts and 74 runs for beginners through to experts. Both group and private classes are available.

La Parva

Also near Farellones is the hamlet of La Parva, situated at 2,816 meters (9,239ft), with a spectacular view down the valley toward Santiago. La Parva usually enjoys snowy conditions until well into October and you can ski as high as 3,630 meters (11,910ft). See for further information.

Valle Nevado

The turn-off to Valle Nevado, 2km (about 1 mile) before Farellones, takes you 10km (6 miles) deep into the mountains. This modern ski center first opened in 1988 and today attracts both families and daredevil heli-skiers. The resort contains three luxury hotels and four luxury apartment buildings, providing services as varied as movies, a discotheque, a French restaurant, a gymnasium, a pool room, a sauna, a whirlpool bath, and a snack bar. Stores sell and rent ski equipment and clothing, and there is a day-care center and a medical center equipped for any emergency. The highest point you can ski at is 3,670 meters (12,040ft) above sea level.


Lagunillas is located 80km (50 miles) southeast of Santiago in the Cajón de Maipo. Run by Club Andino de Chile, this small resort offers skiing and snowboarding. For more information, visit (in Spanish).

Skiing in Chile is an expensive activity, and prices of equipment and accommodations are similar to those in European and North American ski resorts.