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South America

It’s Predicted To Be an El Niño Year in the Andes. 5 Great Resorts for First-Time Visitors.

It’s looking to be a banner season, with a trio of storms already dropping snow south of the equator. Is this your summer of skiing?

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If you’re like us, mourning the end of one of the best ski seasons on record, keep yer chin up. Winter in South America is just getting started, and it’s looking to compete with its north-of-the-equator counterpart. A series of productive storms have descended upon the Andes, with storms already bringing 56 inches to Argentina’s Las Leñas, for example. And the resort isn’t even open yet.

There’s more good news on the way, according to Powderchasers, in the form of additional storms through early June. The longer-range forecast looks hopeful, as well, with an El Niño year shaping up.

Never been skiing in South America and curious about where to go? There are a handful of marquee resorts ideal for the uninitiated that will serve up the right mix of terrain, skier amenities, and the killer views you’re after. Here are our top picks for first-timers looking to ski in South America this summer.

5 South American Ski Resorts for First-Time Visitors

Valle Nevado, Chile

  • Known For: Terrain variety, skier amenities, easy access
  • Skiable Acres: 7,000
  • Fly Into: Santiago
  • Season Dates: June 23-Oct. 1, 2023
Valle Nevado
(Photo: Courtesy of Valle Nevado)

Largely considered one of the most modern and visitor-friendly resorts in South America, Valle Nevado also offers easy access from Santiago—you can even see the city from the summit on clear days. With 7,000 acres of skiable terrain, this place also has great terrain variety, from mellow groomers to excellent glades.

Las Leñas, Argentina

  • Known For: Consistent snowfall, convenient lodging, terrain variety, backcountry skiing, remote location
  • Skiable Acres: 39,000 officially, but most of that is off-piste
  • Fly Into: Malargue airport, via Buenos Aires
  • Season Dates: June 16-Sept. 28, 2023
Las Lenas ski area
(Photo: Courtesy of Las Lenas)

With consistent snowfall thanks to its high elevation, Las Leñas is among the most snow-sure options for North American skiers who don’t want to chance poor conditions. It also offers an incredible variety of terrain, from scenic cruisers to extreme backcountry terrain. You better have thighs of steel: With more than a mile of vertical starting from over 11,000 feet, much of the terrain here is high-alpine. It’s worth noting that Las Lenas is the hardest to get to of the resorts on this list, so be prepared to deal with transfers and pricey flights.

Ski Portillo, Chile

  • Known For: Scenery, Hotel Portillo, dining, and nightlife
  • Skiable Acres: 1,235
  • Fly Into: Santiago
  • Season Dates:  June 24-Sept. 30, 2023

About two and a half hours from Santiago, the world’s oldest and most well-known South American ski resort has 35 trails and endless off-piste skiing on tap. But the main attraction is arguably the iconic Hotel Portillo, where weekly all-inclusive stays harken back to classic ski weeks of the Alps. While Portillo’s 300 inches of annual snowfall provides good coverage in a typical snow year, this place is known for its epically sunny days and incredible views of Lake Inca and the surrounding high peaks of the Andes.

Cerro Catedral, Argentina

  • Known For: Amazing views of Patagonia, tree-skiing, nightlife
  • Skiable Acres: 3,000
  • Fly Into: Bariloche, with flights often connecting from Buenos Aires
  • Season Dates: June 3-Oct. 15, 2023

If you’re in it for the views, you can’t do better than Argentina’s largest ski resort, set scenically on the banks of Lake Nahuel Huapi, 12 miles outside San Carlos de Bariloche. It offers 3,000 acres of skiable terrain served by 38 lifts, as well as access to incredible backcountry hike-to chutes and bowls. There’s also a well-developed little village at the base, making lodging, dining, après, and legendary nightlife a one-stop shop.

La Parva, Chile

  • Known For: Easy access from Santiago, skier amenities, nightlife, scenery
  • Skiable Acres: 1,285
  • Fly Into: Santiago
  • Season Dates: June 23-Sept. 23, 2023
La Parva
(Photo: Getty Images)

La Parva is one of the easiest resorts to get to from Chile’s capital city, but that doesn’t detract from its eye-popping scenery of the neighboring high peaks, some as high as 15,000 feet. Considerably smaller than the other resorts on this list, La Parva is an intermediate’s paradise, and won’t feel overwhelming for first-time skiers to South America, but it also won’t serve up much expert terrain.