La Parva is a town and ski resort located about 50 km (31 mi) northeast of the Chilean capital of Santiago. It is in the middle ridge of the "3 Valleys" resorts that also includes El Coloradoand Valle Nevado.
La Parva sits at 2,650 meters above sea level, and is 41 kilometers away from the city of Santiago. Fourteen lifts access 30 square kilometers of skiable terrain; 30 trails range from beginner to expert.
With a vertical drop of nearly 1 kilometer from an altitude of 3,630 meters (11,910 ft), this Andes gem gets far less foreign travelers than its neighbors Valle Nevado and El Colorado, but has a community of well-to-do Chileans who return each year, so it feels more like an exclusive boutique resort.
La Parva is one of the few skiing destinations in The Andes that offers night skiing.
La Parva Snow
As with all South American ski resorts, the snow conditions are very variable and the off-piste areas are either powder filled bowls or a powder hound’s nightmare. The wind scours some of the slopes at La Parva, particularly the backcountry areas, and with lots of sunny days and no trees, there’s plenty of opportunity for the north facing slopes to become sun affected. However on a powder day the place absolutely rocks, and with an average of 7 metres of snowfall per season, powder days are reasonably common.
Interconnected with Other Tres Valles Ski Resorts
From La Parva it’s possible for accomplished riders to ski to Valle Nevado and El Colorado. The combined Tres Valles ski area is huge with almost 2,500 hectares of in-bounds skiing, but a major limitation in accessing all this terrain is the exorbitant prices for an inter-resort lift ticket.
La Parva Accommodation and Facilities
The delightful village is largely ski-in ski-out and likened to a ski village in Europe. Unfortunately there are no La Parva hotels and lodging options are limited to apartments. These condos are not suited to the budget oriented, and the requisite duration of the stay in most cases is a week.
Alternative accommodation can be found in El Colorado and Farellones where there is more flexibility regarding the length of stay and a range of accommodation for different budgets. Farellones in particular is a great place to stay to access La Parva for day trips (only 4.5km away by road). Many Farellones lodging providers offer complimentary transport to La Parva in the morning and you can ski back to the village of Farellones at the end of the day.
There are a few restaurants at La Parva that reflect the European influence of the resort, but many families have dinner at home and don’t venture out in the evenings. There are a couple of drinking holes, but if you want a little nightlife stay in Farellones.
Location: Above the town of Farellones, 1.5 hours from Santiago Airport
Elevation: 2,670m (8,759ft) to 3,630m (11,909ft)
Vertical Drop: 960m (3,150ft)
Inbound Terrain: 20 Runs
15% Beginner, 45% Intermediate, 30% Advanced, 10% Expert
Ski Lifts: 14
Hotels and Lodging: Condominiums, Apartments and private homes available for rent around the base area, or you can stay 10-15 minutes away in Farellones.
Off-Piste and Backcountry Access: Excellent
Annual Snowfall: 300 inches (762 cms).
Weather: 80% sunny days on average with dry powder after a storm
Ski Season: June to late September, often extending into October
Ski and Snowboard Park: Yes
Night Life: bars and pubs open nightly at the base, plus Farellones, just 10-15 minutes away has some great nightlife.
Accommodation & Hotels
La Parva has over 1,000 condos and houses within the quaint European style village, many of which are ski-in ski-out or very close to it. Some of these La Parva apartments / condominiums are available for rent. There are no La Parva hotels or lodge style accommodation for guests travelling solo or in pairs, and there are definitely no budget options such as hostels.
Some La Parva apartments are magnificent and have extravagant price tags. The reasonably priced apartments are described by the resort as “luxurious”, but “mediocre” might be a more apt description, and these apartments require guests to provide their own bed linen and towels. Whilst this might be suitable for Santiguans and other Chileans, I imagine there aren’t too many international travellers wanting to pay excess baggage fees to the airlines so they can pack their linen!
Another limitation of staying at La Parva is that there is limited flexibility with respect to the duration and start day of your stay. Apartment bookings are generally just for a week, although occasionally 3 day stays are possible.
All apartments are self-catering and you’ll want to stock up on supplies in Santiago before you arrive. Otherwise there are a handful of La Parva restaurants.
Ski La Parva for reasonable variety across approximately 520 hectares of terrain. La Parva Chile is predominantly suited to intermediate riders. The resort also has beginner slopes that are ideal for the little tackers. The treeless terrain at LaParva also offers off-piste opportunities for advanced riders and there is hike-to terrain for experts in the backcountry areas above the resort, although the joy for advanced and expert skiers is somewhat dependent on the snow conditions.
La Parva has two main base areas. Sector Parva Chica has intermediate runs that feed down to it, whilst the Sector Golondrina base has the ski school and the beginners’ runs surrounding it.
La Parva - Interconnected With Valle Nevado and El Colorado
The combined areas of the Tres Valles (Three Valleys) ski resorts are vast and provide approximately 2,400 hectares of terrain. The 3 resorts (or 4 if you count Farellones as a separate resort rather than just part of El Colorado) are interconnected via the lifts and slopes, although access is generally only for strong intermediate riders and above and is only possible when the connections are open. This is dependent on various factors including visibility, wind, avalanche risk, and whether the patrollers have got around to opening up the areas (they operate on ish time).
It is possible to get between the Tres Valles resorts via road but this also occasionally has its challenges.
La Parva Snow and Weather
Like its neighbours, the quality of the snow at La Parva can vary dramatically and as to be expected, the conditions can fluctuate across the 900 metres of vertical. Dry powder, wet powder, concrete, ice, big bumps, and crust – anything is possible. One of the great things about La Parva is that the resort has lots of different aspects so you can generally fish around to find good snow.
La Parva scores lots of fine weather days where you can work on your goggle tan or sit on the outdoor decks at one of the fabulous restaurants and enjoy the rays. When the big snow storms do roll in, much of the resort closes because without trees for protection or to aid visibility, skiing or boarding becomes impossible. Like El Colorado, La Parva can also be at the mercy of the wind gods. La Parva Skiing for the Beginner Beginners have a dedicated area near the ski school in the main village, where they are protected from speedsters. It’s easy for spectators to watch the novices from the comfort of their apartment or from the Olympico Café. Likewise beginners can easily come in for a rest.
The next progression is in the same vicinity, and from there more confident beginners can head up and take the Pista del Rio loop.
Ski La Parva - Intermediates
La Parva is characterised by its many long, wide open runs, and with about 75% of the slopes rated as blue or red, there is plenty on offer to keep intermediates very happy. There are a handful of blue runs in the upper reaches of the resort for timid intermediates, and these link with a green run to return to the base areas. Red runs make up the majority of the intermediate terrain. Sometimes one or two of the black runs are groomed, which can also be skied by confident intermediates.
Advanced Skiing La Parva
La Parva has several black trails and it’s a little better than El Colorado and Valle Nevado for advanced on-piste riders. A couple of these black runs may be groomed or they may be ideal for mogul mongrels if there’s been lots of skier traffic. Off La Aguilas quad chair lift there are various treasures on the fringe of the resort including the renowned Manantiales run which provides plenty of vertical.
The real playground for advanced riders is in the unmarked off-piste areas, although this is Chile so the attractiveness of these is dependent on whether the dreaded melt-freeze cycle has set in. La Aguilas area provides some excitement but the new chair lift in the Valley of Fabres (Zona de Freeskiing) has really extended the fun zone of La Parva, particularly when the snow is “on”. This area is not particularly steep, but the challenge comes in the form of interesting terrain features such as gullies and little rocks to leap off.
Expert Ski and Snowboard Terrain
In-bounds there isn’t much terrain that will challenge super experts, with just a little band of rocks/cliffettes that provide a very short pitch of white-knuckle terrain.
Where La Parva really shines is the hike-to terrain in the backcountry area above the ski resort. Here you can test your courage on cornices or in chutes. There are a mixture of lines between rocky outcrops with varying amounts of hiking required, the vertical drop, and the degree of gnarliness. Hiking up from the top of lift 1, you can head towards a lagoon and then up to lots of amazing terrain. Needless to say, if you have a guide you’ll be able to find the best lines much easier.
One sphincter tightening line is La Chiminea, a tight rock walled chute that makes a great spectator sport for those in the village sitting on their decks sipping Chilean wine. Nail the run and you’ll be a hero. Wipe out and you’ll need more than vino to heal your pride and your body! Nearby is the hike up to McConkey’s and part of the attraction for these two areas is often the snow quality.
Ski lifts & pass
The folks that stay at La Parva may be the elite of South America, but the quality of the lifts are definitely not in keeping with the upscale image that the resort tries to portray. This is a resort where you may not get lots of ski vertical in each day. Of the 16 lifts there are 2 quad chair lifts and 3 other chair lifts which can be rather slow. The other lifts are surface lifts although they are not completely primitive and at least they don’t buck like some of the pomas at Nevados de Chillan.
Lift queues can be a bit of a problem sometimes, especially on weekends when all the local Santiago people come out to play. In stark contrast, on weekdays outside the peak Chilean school holidays in July, the resort feels almost deserted.
La Parva lift ticket prices are similar to the other ski resorts near Santiago (which are reasonably expensive relative to Chile ski resorts further south) but they cost a little less than those at Valle Nevado.
You can purchase a dual pass to ski at both La Parva and El Colorado (and Farellones), or La Parva and Valle Nevado (this can’t be purchased at Valle Nevado), although this costs almost as much as buying separate lift tickets for the two resorts.
LIFT TICKET PRICES
Facilities & Services
La Parva ski resort facilities and services are largely situated at two main base areas.
Sector Parva Chica is a good spot for intermediates and above to use as a base. There is a surface lift that services an intermediate run above the Parva Chica zone. This base has lift ticket sales, a couple of restaurants, a ski shop, a souvenir shop, ski and snowboard rentals and workshop, and a cash machine.
The Sector Golondrina base is best for beginners and families with small children. This zone has the ski school and an associated beginners area serviced by a magic carpet. Another couple of lifts provide access to beginner and intermediate runs. The Golodrina area also has lift ticket sales, eateries, and ski and snowboard rentals.
Eating on Mountain
Restaurant 3100 majestically sits up in the middle of the resort near the top of the Golondrina chair lift. This is a magnificent spot to sit outside on a fine day and take in the views.
Otherwise for lunch or après-ski drinks it’s pretty easy to ski down to one of the restaurants at the bases. Saint Tropez is located at the Parva Chica base. Sitting on the deck and looking up at the mountain makes for a nice spot to have lunch and catch some rays. Indoors has some lovely tables next to windows looking down the mountain, or there are comfie couches to recline whilst sipping on a pisco sour. This restaurant has some local treats like empanadas as well as French inspired food.
Next door is La Marmita which is good for a fondue dinner, pizzas, steaks and drinks.
Above the novice area at the Golondrina base is the Olympico Restaurant. During the day this is a great location to watch the kids learning to snow plough in the area below whilst sipping on a coffee, eating lunch, or snacking on their churros.
Your credit card is pretty safe at La Parva with only very limited shopping opportunities available.
At the Parva Chica base area is a little shop that specializes in Salomon with a little bit of outerwear and equipment, and they also sell some mid layers and basic ski and snowboard accessories. Adjacent to the ski shop is a store selling La Parva logo wear and souvenirs.
The village has a small shop selling very basic groceries and sundries. For major grocery purchases, you’ll need to stock up in Santiago.
La Parva ski school is very established and the kids ski school in particular is very good, but it really only caters for the locals. If you’re looking for kids ski school or child care that caters for English speaking guests, your best bet is to stay at Valle Nevado.