Argentina’s Best Destinations for Skiers & Snowboarders

From Mendoza all the way to Tierra del Fuego, you'll find slopes for every ability, next to quaint mountain towns where you'll rarely hear English spoken.

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Photo © iStock/Buenaventuramariano

While infrastructure has improved over the last few years, chair lifts at some resorts can be brutally slow, and lines excruciating. But you’ll enjoy fewer crowds and lower ticket prices than in North America (US $40-$62/$972-$1500 ARS), along with a wide range of off-piste activities.

Las Leñas

One of the world’s largest ski resorts, with more than 40mi (64km) of runs, there’s nothing subdued about Mendoza’s flashy, flagship resort, which offers lively nightlife, eclectic restaurants, and adventures including snowmobiling and tubing. Powder hounds flock here for the extreme backcountry skiing and heli-skiing, with advanced runs taking the lion share of terrain (67 percent). Novice skiers should note that a massive swathe of the resort is gated expert terrain which is not always open.

The easiest way to get here is to fly from Buenos Aires to Malargüe Airport (43mi/70km away), and take one of the frequent buses (2.5 hours). For more freedom, you can rent a car and take the scenic six-hour drive south from Mendoza City. If you’re prone to altitude sickness, the resort’s high altitude (11,328ft/3,453m) can be problematic. If you’re on a budget, there’s more affordable accommodation at Los Molles, 11mi (18km) from the resort.

Las Leñas. Photo credit: iStock/cosmopol

Cerro Catedral

Rising above beautiful Lake Nahuel Huapi just 12mi (20km) from Bariloche, Catedral is much more accessible than Las Leñas, combining slope action with snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, hiking, fishing, and horse riding. In August, the National Snow Party is a blast, with a procession, chocolate party, sculpture competitions, 'fox-hunting' on skis, and folklore concerts.

A lot of money has been invested here in the last decade. The newly expanded resort features the largest lift-accessed ski terrain in South America, with 53 runs for all levels. New high-speed lifts have replaced many of the decrepit double chairs and T-bars.

Reliable snowfall is not Catedral’s forte and its powder has a reputation for being rather slushy at times; it’s best visited late season (August and September). Catedral is just one of several South American ski resorts to have a base village. Getting here is a breeze with regular buses between Bariloche and the resort (about 30 mins).

Cerro Catedral. Photo credit: iStock/shimura

Cerro Bayo

Some 6mi (9km) from the Lake District town of Villa La Angostura, Cerro Bayo came into being as a no-frills locals hill, but has been recast as a boutique ski experience famed for its incredible views over the Andes into Chile. What it may lack in scale (just 25 marked trails), infrastructure, and amenities, it more than compensates for with its off-beat charm, unpretentious vibe, and diverse terrain: there are big bowls and tree skiing for adrenaline junkies, wide, groomed runs for novices, and fun extracurricular activities, including tubing, snowshoeing tours, and snowkiting.

Charming Villa La Angostura is sprinkled with eclectic restaurants and bars for all tastes and budgets.

Cerro Chapelco

Chapelco has invested more in lifts, snowmaking, and amenities than any other Argentine resort, and it shows. With just 22 trails that deliver magnificent views of Volcan Lanín and Lake Lacar, the park is relatively small, but surprisingly varied, with a small terrain park for freestylers, tree skiing, back-country chutes and bowls, and intense black diamonds. San Martin de los Andes, 12mi (19km) away, makes an excellent base and offers alpine charm in spades. Accommodation options run the gamut of luxury hotels and budget hotels, and restaurants serve local specialties such as trout and deer.

Cerro Castor

The southernmost ski resort on the continent, Cerro Castor is accessed from Ushuaia (16mi/26km away) in Tierra del Fuego National Park. Castor’s main advantage is its longer-than-average season and fantastic powder, which miraculously happens despite its low elevation. Not surprisingly given its remote location, Castor flies under the radar, drawing a cult crowd with its warm service, family-friendly atmosphere, and blissfully empty slopes. 26 trails extend over 19mi (30km) of varied terrain accessed by relatively modern lifts. There’s also an excellent ski and snowboarding school, high-tech snowmaking machines, sizable backcountry for expert skiers, and gorgeous lenga forests which draw avid snowshoers.

Cerro Castor. Photo credit: iStock/Dmitry Saparov

Want to know more about Argentina? Listen to the World Nomads podcast. How drinking mate defines Argentinians, how to kiss properly when you greet someone, and meet Popi, the scientist who's saving penguins.

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