Chile Skiing and Snowboarding
Snow skiing in Chile is the answer to extending your ski season and for escaping the heat of the 2018 Northern Hemisphere summer. From top rated ski resorts like Portillo, Valle Nevado, and La Parva, to the volcanic snow-blanketed terrain of Nevados de Chillan, and deep into Patagonia, the Chilean Andes Mountains leave little flatland. No wonder Outside Magazine recently named Chile the world’s best international adventure hub.
Chile’s Ski Resorts: When to Go
Chile is a paradise for skiing and snowboarding during the South American winter, June to October. For prime powder skiing conditions at the resorts and guided ski tours getting you to areas you would not find on your own, the best time to ski Chile is mid July to mid September. Resorts tend to close for the season between the September 18th Independence Day holidays and mid October depending on conditions.
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How to Get to Chile
Getting to Chile is quite easy due to international flights arriving daily from around the globe.
Santiago’s main airport is Aeropuerto Internacional Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez (airport code SCL). Upon arrival to Santiago, you can access most of Chile’s main ski destinations in a few hours drive. This includes Valle Nevado, La Parva, El Colorado, Portillo and Arpa Cat Skiing.
To explore destinations further south (Nevados de Chillan, Corralco, Pucon, Antillanca and other off the radar ski resorts), you can connect on short domestic flights to Concepcion, Temuco and Puerto Montt. Another option is to take an overnight sleeper bus from downtown Santiago or the suburbs of Vitacura, Las Condes.
From North America
Most major airlines including Delta, American, United and Air Canada have daily, overnight flights (yeah! No jet lag) from multiple cities across the USA and Canada. Direct flights from the USA can be found from New York, Miami, Dallas, Atlanta, and Houston. There are at times, direct flights from LAX, but they generally have a connection in Lima, Peru.
From Canada, direct flights arrive from Toronto on Air Canada.
Daily departures from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Flights from Europe to Chile are frequent, including some direct options from London, Madrid, Rome and Paris.
Chile’s Lift Ticket Rates
Lift ticket prices vary depending on time of season, destination, and your age. Obviously the larger, better known resorts have the highest rates while the smaller ski areas will be about 15% cheaper. On average expect to pay $70-80 for a daily lift pass at the most popular resorts. For a full breakdown of this season’s day rates, go here.
What to Expect with Winter Weather in Chile
Weather in Chile during the southern hemisphere’s winter varies considerably depending on where you are skiing or traveling. One thing is for sure when in the mountains, you can expect a bit of everything.
For Portillo, Arpa, and the Three Valley resorts of Valle Nevado, La Parva and El Colorado, cold major winter storms bring in deep powder snow, often accompanied by wind, followed by blue skies and a range of cool to mild temperatures. The sun shines brightly in Chile and we always recommend sun screen especially at elevation.
The city of Santiago and the Central Valley is quite mild, with “spring like” weather most of the winter, although it can snow on occasion. Temperatures can drop to around the freezing mark at night and in the early mornings. By mid-day temperatures often reach the 60’s or even 70’s. Hard to believe you can be skiing knee deep powder in the morning and wear flip-flops in the afternoon.
As you head south away from Santiago and the Central Valley, rain is quite common in the lower elevations including most towns. The volcanoes and upper Patagonian peaks experience massive accumulation of snow from low pressure rolling off the Pacific.
More on Chile’s snow conditions
And the Oscar goes to…Chile! That’s right, the narrowest country in the world has won the “Oscar” of travel from the World Travel Awards in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Ranked as the planet’s Best Adventure Travel Destination 3 years running, this is the new hot spot for adventurers. Learn more
Chile Backcountry Touring: When to Go
August to early/mid September is your best bet for deeper snow bases, hitting the snowstorms rolling off the Pacific and longer weather windows (Think bluebird powder days). Starting in mid-September, longer days, corn snow and south facing powder cannot be missed. The countryside is scattered with smoking snow covered volcanos, and thermal hot springs, all the way into Patagonia.
Untapped backcountry skiing and alpine ski touring on the beautiful volcanoes of the Lake District allows you to chase winter well into late October and often into November, but by that time you are probably already thinking about skiing back home.
Suggested Hosted Adventure
For the ultimate backcountry ski and snowboard experience, consider a mix of guided off-piste and snowcat skiing near the base of the mighty Aconcagua Mountain, the tallest peak in the Andean chain. Throw in day trips to Portillo, Valle Nevado plus hosted dinners and nightlife in Santiago and you will understand why this tour is the most popular guided ski tour in Chile, selling out every ski season.