In addition to incredible terrain, with alpine bowls, sleep couloirs, and plentiful square miles of ungroomed slopes, Chile has what no country in the northern hemisphere has to offer: Off-season snow. Because while it’s off-season in the United States, Canada, and Europe, Chile’s ski season is just getting underway. From June to October, you can find some of the world’s best skiing just a few hours drive from Santiago, Chile.
More and more, families are realizing that traveling with small children is easier than they think. Chile is very child-friendly year-round, and for the upcoming southern winter (June through September), skiing with kids is a cinch. And if your kids are too little to ski, or don’t yet know how, here are several resorts that will keep them entertained, regardless.
Near Santiago, there are several ski areas that cater to families traveling with children, including Portillo, Valle Nevado, La Parva and Colorado/Farrellones. In the south, families traveling with slightly older children should try the spa and resort at Chillán for family-friendly skiing and relaxation.
To be sure, two of the things that Chile is best known for are its skiing, and its wine. And if you plan it right, you can experience both in one day, either as a day trip from Santiago or up on the mountain at the resort at Valle Nevado.
Photo: Avá Araujo
Last year, American pro skier Chad Sayers embarked on a massive road trip across Argentina, covering some 2,500 miles down the windswept spine of the Andes mountain range. Along the way, he visited some of Argentina’s lesser known ski destinations, including Penitentes.
For pristine, above-the-treeline back-country skiing, tremendous vertical drop and the opportunity to ski in the shadow of Aconcagua, South America’s tallest peak, cat-skiing at Ski Arpa, has an offer that is unparalleled in Chile, and much of the world. Add to that the fact that Chilean winter comes during North America’s “off season” period, and the decision is simple.
Photo: Alicia Nijdam
At Chapelco Ski Resort, near the town of San Martín de los Andes, the stunning scenery nearly outshines the thrills of the slopes. Mount Chapelco looms 6,496 feet above cerulean Lake Lácar, and many of its twenty groomed ski and snowboard trails run through tall forests of lenga (pictured above), a type of beech tree native to the southern Andes.
Photo: Jason Hollinger
Just a few miles east of the Chilean border lies the northernmost ski resort in Argentina, Penitentes. The resort encompasses 740 acres of skiable terrain, with 20 groomed trails for beginner to expert skiers. Snowboarders are welcomed at the resort, as well. From the Penitentes slopes, you will be surrounded by the High Andes—you can even spot Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere.
Photo: Ismael Cañete
Pucón is Chile’s adventure sports capital, with a beautiful, volcanic-formed topography including the snow-covered Villarica volcano that peeks out on sunny days. In and around Pucón there are great opportunities for biking, hiking, canopy, rafting, skiing, horseback riding, canopy, rock-climbing (some of these only in season), and to wrap it all up at the end of the day, plentiful hot springs to choose from to suit every taste from rustic to elegant, and all-inclusive resorts.
A few hours from Santiago, Chile, lies Nevados de Chillán a snow-covered volcano, offering the prettiest combination thousands of acres of fresh powder and warming natural hot springs that you’re ever likely to get the chance to visit. There are several housing options, from a nearby hostel to four-star hotel right at the resort, so there’s something to suit every budget. Ski packages and ski gear rental are available at many of the accommodations as well. This mountain has plentiful activities to choose from, and offers ski schools and day care for kids, off-piste guides, volcano ascents and more, making it one of Chile’s favorite resorts.
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