El Colorado Ski Resort Review
El Colorado Ski Resort in Chile is part of the Tres Valles (Three Valleys) of the Andes along with Valle Nevado and La Parva. Unlike its neighbours that receive all the attention, El Colorado is not a glitzy resort and is considered more of an affordable locals’ ski area. El Colorado is also popular with Gen Ys who enjoy the good terrain park and the vibrant nightlife at Farellones.
El Colorado Ski and Snowboard Terrain
El Colorado is made up of two ski areas (El Colorado and Farellones
) that sit above two interconnected villages; Villa Colorado and Villa Farellones. The main ski area is El Colorado, whilst Farellones is really only for beginners and tubing enthusiasts and as access for those staying down in the Farellones village.
The interconnected Farellones and El Colorado make up a large treeless ski area with combined statistics of 1,100 hectares, 101 piste trails, and 1,090 metres of vertical. What’s not so impressive is that the resort only gets an average annual snowfall of 5 metres.
With 19 lifts El Colorado prides itself on having more lifts than La Parva and Valle Nevado, but the sub-standard quality of the chair lifts and quad-burning surface lifts should not be a source of pride for the resort!
The mountain has a cone-shaped peak with wide open areas that fan out from the top. There are lots of runs that are well suited to beginners and there is an abundance of fantastic fall line groomed runs for intermediates, although many of the runs provide a feeling of déjà vu.
For advanced riders there is a small area on the eastern side of the ski resort with steep pitches and a few chutes for advanced riders. This is a bit of fun but powder hounds may despair because on a powder day every man and his dog heads for this area, and fresh tracks disappear very quickly. The real joy for experts and powder hounds can be found outside the resort boundaries. You’ll want to have a guide to access the backcountry. Local guides are available. Otherwise you may want to head on a multi-resort ski tour such as the High Andes Adventure
that includes backcountry guiding.
Tres Valles - Interconnected Ski Resorts
Farellones and El Colorado are interconnected via the slopes with La Parva
and Valle Nevado
, and it’s possible for strong intermediate riders and above to ski between the three resorts (sometimes the required lift connections are closed due to weather or avalanche conditions). The combined areas of Tres Valles are absolutely ginormous and provide a lot of variety in terrain.
The main catch is that a dual lift ticket is required to head over to one of the other resorts, and these are so expensive that it cost is nearly equal to buying two separate lift tickets. Subsequently most visitors who want to sample another resort head there by road. See El Colorado travel
page for more information on getting between El Colorado and the other ski resorts.
Where is El Colorado Chile?
El Colorado is located 56km east of Santiago Chile and only 44km from Las Condes area of Santiago. El Colorado sits above the Farellones village (5km by road), and is bordered by La Parva
and Valle Nevado
on either side.
The drive from Santiago to El Colorado takes about one hour in good conditions, but there are many variables that can impact on the drive time. The drive up to Farellones
can be a little challenging because it has many switchbacks, and due to the volume of traffic, there are restrictions at times regarding one-way traffic. If you don’t want to self-drive, there are private transfers that can be organized as part of an El Colorado ski package
||Santiago Skiing - Day Trips
If you don't have time for a few days or a week at one of Chile's top ski resorts but you have a free day available, jump on a Santiago skiing day trip. Pickups around 8:00 am & leaves the mountain of choice at 5:00 pm daily.
||Backcountry Day Trips from Santiago
Get away from the crowds and experience the best of the Tres Valles. These tours are lift-accessed backcountry (slackcountry) with experienced guides. Includes transfers and avalanche safety gear..
El Colorado Lodging
The village of El Colorado is medium sized and has a small number of restaurants, ski rental shops, and a couple of other shops.
El Colorado lodging
is generally in the form of apartments, some of them ski-in ski-out. Many of the properties are not particularly contemporary, but one of advantages of staying at El Colorado is that the duration of your stay can be flexible, unlike La Parva and Valle Nevado where a week-long stay is often required.
El Colorado accommodations are not as expensive as at La Parva or Valle Nevado, but the quality is generally not in the same league either, and it certainly wouldn’t be described as inexpensive (particularly for those travelling in pairs or very small groups).
The other option is to stay in Farellones where there are more options for accommodation style (hotels, lodges, backpackers) and the lodging generally provides better value for money. The village of Farellones is connected to El Colorado by a couple of surface tows.
Summary of Pros and Cons of El Colorado Chile
- El Colorado is great for beginners and park dudes and perfect for intermediates.
- Unlike at La Parva and Valle Nevado, the price of a ski holiday at El Colorado won’t burn as big a hole in your pocket.
- Unlike at La Parva and Valle Nevado, there is some flexibility regarding the timing and duration of your stay.
- El Colorado provides the best access to the Farellones chutes and Santa Terasita; backcountry terrain that is accessed via the lifts and road.
- If staying at El Colorado, it’s easy to access La Parva by road and ski back to El Colorado without having to buy two lift tickets.
Pro or Con Depending on Your Perspective
- There is not much in-bounds terrain for advanced and expert riders.
- From El Colorado it’s time consuming to access Valle Nevado by road, and if you want to ski over it’s expensive to buy a dual resort pass.
- El Colorado gets a little less snow than its neighbours.
- El Colorado doesn’t provide the same dramatic views compared to Valle Nevado and La Parva.
- Basic lift infrastructure
- Accommodation at El Colorado is expensive for those travelling alone or in pairs.
- El Colorado is very well suited to families considering the mellow slopes and the ski-in ski-out accommodation, although it’s generally not ideal for international visitors who don’t speak fluent Spanish because the ski school lessons are not in English and there’s no child care.
Pros and Cons of the Tres Valles Resorts
- Often called the Santiago ski resorts, their proximity to Santiago is a huge bonus for international visitors as well as the locals.
- Lots of fine weather.
- Huge terrain choice
- The resorts don’t cooperate with each other to make the most of their huge terrain choice by creating a well priced tri-resort lift ticket.
- The resorts can get rather busy, particularly on the weekends due to the proximity to Santiago.
- The snow conditions can be incredibly variable.
- The access road is sometimes choked with traffic and the one-way traffic restrictions can make travel plans somewhat complicated.
- They cater for the elite of Chile and the value for money is not particularly good when compared to North American ski resorts.
Tours That May Include El Colorado