When Is The Best Time to Ski & Ride in South America?

SnowBrains |
Las Leñas, Argentina. August 20th, 2011. photo: miles clark
Big lines in Argentina. August 20th, 2011. photo: snowbrains

It’s a big commitment to fly all the way down to South America to ski in the summer.  Skiers and riders need to know what time of year is going to maximize their chances for good coverage, fresh snow, and quality experiences.

SnowBrains has spent 10 winter seasons in South America, and will be heading down in August for our 11th, and has dialed in this window.

The best time to come to South America to ski or ride is within this window:

August 7th – September 7th

Sierra slashing fresh Valle Nevado Pow: Credit: Valle Nevado

The next question you invariably hear is “Why is that the best window?”




Ski resorts and heli operations start opening around the first week of July in South America.  The resorts are open, but coverage is generally thin and they aren’t 100% open.  By early August, coverage is good, resorts are 100% open and snowpack is approaching its peak for the season.  By the end of September, spring has sprung, the snow is melting off the hills, coverage is tapering, and resorts may no longer be 100% open.  The best way to be in South America during their best coverage is to be there between the early season low snow and the late season melting.  Hence, August 1st – September 15th.

Bariloche, Argentina. September 5th, 2011.Big lines in Argentine Patagonia. September 5th, 2011.  photo:  SnowBrains


Powder is the reason that many people make their first pilgrimage to South America.  Ripping deep powder in mid-summer when you should be battling overheating and motivational issues has a nice ring to it.  Before early August snowpack can be thin down south and after early September you’re looking at spring conditions.  Early August to early September also seems to be the best time for big, cold storms that drop feet of powder and leave behind the conditions that we all dream about encountering in South America.  If you get Las Leñas on a perfect, sunny powder day, you could very well be looking at some of the best freeride runs of your life.

South America, valle nevado, chile
Valle Nevado, Chile last year. Credit: Valle Nevado


Mid to late July is when South Americans take their winter vacations.  School is out, college is out, people are off work, and many humans head to the snow.  During winter vacation, ski resorts are packed, it’s tough to find lodging, travel reservations are scarce, and the prices of everything are jacked up.  This is called high season and you’ll pay more for travel, lodging, lift tickets, beer, and even food.  It’s nuts.  Avoid July.

Early August to early September is considered medium to low season.  Prices for everything drop, travel, and lodging availability goes up, and most importantly, crowds go down.

Some of the classic big terrain Powder South delivers. image: powder south
Some of the classic big terrain Powder South delivers. image: powder south


The Santa Rosa Storm is a legendary storm that hits the Andes + or – 5 days from the end of August.  It’s very talked and about and it’s very believed in although the actual Santa Rosa storm occurred in 1615 off the coast of Lima, Peru and was the work of divine intervention.

Regardless, this storm does come some years and when it does, you don’t wanna miss it.  Meteorologists attribute the storm to the clash of warm and cold air masses that occurs at the beginning of spring.  In 2010, we were in Bariloche when 6 feet dropped on September 2nd and 3rd and it was something to see.  I’ve never seen it snow that hard anywhere in my life.

Portillo, Chile last week when 10 feet of snow fell in 7-days... photo: portillo
Portillo, Chile in 2015 when 10 feet of snow fell in 7-days… photo: Portillo

Now you know when to book your tickets for South America this year or any other year.  Showing up in early August is also nice because, by the time you purchase your tickets in late July, you hopefully have some idea of how the season is going up to that point in South America.

If you need help buying that ticket down south, Mark Twain has got your back:

mark twain portrait

 “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Related Articles

2 thoughts on “When Is The Best Time to Ski & Ride in South America?

Got an opinion? Let us know...