Skiing is Chile’s favourite winter sport, with the Andean mountains running down the country’s spine offering excellent routes and powder. For the adventurous, try heli-skiing, where you’re dropped at the top of a mountain by helicopter before the adrenaline rush of skiing down.

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Near Santiago

Santiago is Chile’s largest metropolitan city and near to some of the best ski resorts in the country. Just a 90-minute drive away you’ll find the small sleepy town of Farellones, which sits at the foot of Cerro Colorado, just a few kilometres from the famous Tres Valle de Los Andes.

This refers to Chile’s three largest and most popular ski resorts; El Colorado, La Parva, and Valle Nevado. You can visit the resorts separately or buy a pass which gives you access to all three. The Tres Valle de Los Andes resorts get very busy once the high season begins — June to August.

Getting to Tres Valle de Los Andes from Santiago is pretty straightforward. There are daily shuttle buses that leave from the Escuela Militar area of Santiago, where you can also rent ski and snowboard equipment.

Most people stay in Santiago and head up to the resorts for the day. If you want to spend more time in the snow, there are plenty of hotels and cabins to choose from.

El Colorado
El Colorado has a ski area of 1,100 acres and is most Chileans favourite place to ski or snowboard. This resort is the closest to Santiago, has full ski and snowboard equipment rental and lessons for every level of experience, making it an excellent place for families. El Colorado’s longest slope is 4.3km, with its Los Zarros track being the highest at 3,300m above sea level with a vertical drop of 1,090m.

Valle Nevado

Located on the other side of the same valley as El Colorado, Valle Nevado usually has better conditions during the season. If you want to experience both valleys, you can purchase a special ski pass that allows you to experience both. Valle Nevado is just a 30 minutes drive from El Colorado, so its easy to get between the two. This resort offers a more modern ski experience with 35km of trails and plenty of slopes for first-timers to learn.

La Parva
This is a smaller resort that sits right next to El Colorado. This resort has plenty of family-friendly and beginner slopes, but you’ll also find more challenging slopes than in El Colorado and Valle Nevado. La Parva sits at 2,750m altitude and is best defined as a cosy mountain village, with modern buildings that seem to hang from its may slopes.

Nevados de Chillán

If you want to escape from Santiago and explore more of Chile, Nevados de Chillán, located in the Bio-Bio Region south of Santiago, is a great option. This resort has 560 hectares of skiable terrain with 13 ski lifts and more than 30 tracks, including the longest ski trail in South America — Las Tres Marias is approximately 12km long. With a perfect combination of high-quality powder snow and volcanic hot springs, Nevados de Chillán is a very popular destination.

Nevados de Chillán offers rental equipment and lessons for any age and skill level. For experienced skiers, heli-skiing is also available. After a long and intense day, the best way to relax those muscles is in the natural hot springs just around the corner from the resort.

There are several ways to get to Chillán. You can fly into nearby Concepcion and then take a bus or rent a car. The other option is to drive to Chillán from Santiago, which is about 440km or 4-5 hours.

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Corralco

Corralco is a beautiful mountain resort located in the Malalcahuello-Nalcas national reserve, 120km from Temuco and 37km from Curacautín, in the Araucanía region. Corralco has one of the longest seasons of the all the ski resorts in Chile. Depending on when the first snow falls in early June, the high peak season lasts from mid-July until mid-September. This resort is set over 1,800 hectares and is excellent for practising alpine skiing and snowboarding.

Visitors can enjoy 29 flattened slopes with different degrees of difficulty for beginner, intermediate and expert skiers. This resort is great for learning as there is a mini ski lift to 200m — ideal for beginners, learners or those who just want to enjoy sledging or tubing. Corralco’s ski slopes are on the sides of the Lonquimay volcano with an amazing view of the Llaima and Andes.

Corralco also has its own hotel where the majority of visitors stay. This hotel is located within the national park and is completely surrounded by the Araucaria tree, a beautiful slow-growing evergreen tree that only grows in the region. The hotel offers a variety of other activities that are not ski-related, such as horseback riding, trail running, kayak, and hot springs.

Cerro Mirador

For those who are looking to ski at the end of the world, overlooking the Strait of Magellan and Tierra del Fuego, then Cerro Mirador is the resort for you. Located just 9km west of Punta Arenas, within the Magallanes National Reserve, Cerro Mirador offers spectacular views of the city and Patagonia. The season runs from mid-June to mid-September and Cerro Mirador is one of the only places in the world where you can ski while looking at the ocean. Most people choose to stay in Punta Arenas, as there are lots of places to stay, good equipment hire and transportation to the centre.

Cerro Mirador, otherwise known as Mount Fenton, has 11 ski slopes with narrow powder-runs that move through trees, posing a nice challenge for skiers. It has a double chairlift and one ski lift with the highest point at 600m above sea level.

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