The active Villarrica Volcano hosts the rustic Villarrica-Pucon ski resort, just an 1.5 hours drive from Temuco, the capital city of Chile’s 9th region, La Araucania.
The small ski area often referred to as Ski Pucon, offers beautiful views of the surrounding lake and easy access to mystical volcanic skiing in southern Chile. The natural terrain is fun for freeskiing and snowboarding, and short hikes access some fun steep pitches and cornice drops.
The main focus here for most visitors is the ascent to Villarrica’s smoking crater taking you to the 2,840m (9,317 ft.) peak of the volcano, with a big amount of vertical to ski down. If you are lucky and get a powder or corn snow cycle, it will be one of those descents you talk about for years.
When was the last time you peered into one of the world’s most active craters? The descent back to the Ski Pucon resort is over 1,640 vertical meters (5,380 feet) through the alpine slopes and deep lava flows creating natural half pipes, cornices and wind lips.
Here are some insider tips and ideas from our ski guides and locals that know the terrain and resorts like no other.
Important: Many of the areas described involve riding in non controlled avalanche terrain. Know your stuff, carry the right equipment and be smart. If you have any doubts, or even if you don’t, come join us on a PowderQuest guided tour. We will take you to the best skiing available with nothing for you to do but to enjoy what we have spent the last 2 decades figuring out!
David Owen: I lived in Pucon for over a decade. The weather can be tough, but if you hit it right, this place is outstanding. Amazing terrain, fun nightlife, a great selection of restaurants, and by far the area with the most diverse options for outdoor adventure in the South. For Chilean Independence Day, September 18th, Pucon is the place to be. Generally great snow for touring to the volcano’s crater and 4 days of non-stop partying around town.
Phil Gautier: Best night life in the south, a gateway to the volcanoes and an adventure capital. Culture runs deep and the rivers are hot, if you get a chance explore the Geometricas hot springs and if you are adventurous you can ski across the volcano all the way there! In a really ambitious day you could be standing a top of the highest volcano in the region, the mighty Lanin.
Terrain – freestyle
The Ski Pucon staff builds a small intermediate level terrain park, featuring small hits, some rails, and a short border-x course, that seems more apt for children. Maintaining the park is a chore due to strong winds and heavy precipitation during most of the ski season. The best time to check out the park, and the ski area, is in September when the weather usually improves. Pucon weather is known to be challenging, but good things come to those that wait.
Terrain – experts
While the inbounds terrain has little to offer the expert skier and snowboarder, the Villarrica ski resort does act as the gateway to a massive amount of backcountry terrain for those willing to work for their turns. From steep chutes and rock drops, to the popular ski tour to the summit, there is plenty to explore.
Terrain – Intermediates
This is a good zone for intermediate skiers and riders. The Pucon volcano staff maintain several groomed runs, including a low angle mellow cruiser back down to the main parking lot, offering easy off-piste access into the beautiful Lenga forest.
Beginners and non-skiers
Several beginner runs around the main cafeteria area make for a good day for those starting out. A small ski and snowboard school offers private and group classes, arranged in an office to the left just as you walk in the main lodge. For non skiers, snow-shoeing in the forest is a popular activity finishing at the deck of the cafeteria for a cold local cerveza and an amazing view of the smoking summit.
Climbing the Villarrica Volcano is highly recommended for those that are fit and up for an adventure. This is arranged in downtown Pucon with several agencies to choose from. Do your research, several agencies hire unprofessional guides and this climb is not to be taken lightly. Contact us if you need a recommended agency or local guide.
Rustic. If you are looking for a high end ski area, you need to go elsewhere. Unfortunately there is little to offer at the base area except a cafeteria with junk food and poor service and it’s been like that for years. However it should be noted, the town of Pucon, just down the road, is one of our favorites in all of Chile with excellent cafes, restaurants and bars.
The ski lifts of the resort are old and slow. However, if you come with an open mind, with a taste for adventure, Villarrica-Pucon ski resort can surprise you with some amazing days in southern Chile. In order to get the best experience check out our guided adventures to Pucon.
Location: Pucon, Southern Chile’s Araucania province
Elevation: 1,410m (4,626ft) to 2,100m (6,890ft)
Vertical Drop: 690m (2,264ft)
Inbound Terrain: 22 Runs
20% Beginner, 40% Intermediate, 40% Advanced
Ski Lifts: 9, but rarely do more than 3-4 operate
Hotels and Lodging: In town, 20 minutes drive. No on mountain lodging.
Off-Piste and Backcountry Access: Good
Annual Snowfall: 400 inches (1000 cms)
Weather: Lots of wind and rain. You need to time the weather right to catch it on a good day.
Ski Season: June to October
Ski and Snowboard Park: Yes
Night Life in Pucon: Some of the best nightlife in Southern Chile with bars, discos, a casino, and a young crowd ready to party until dawn.