Las Leñas

Las Leñas is the largest ski area served by lifts in the Western Hemisphere—bigger than Whistler/Blackcomb in British Columbia, and larger than Vail and Snowbird combined. Although it should be thriving, the area has suffered bankruptcies, absentee owners, and several management teams. You must go through tour operators and travel agents to book into area hotels, all of which have minimum-stay requirements. Accommodations range from dorm-style houses and apart-hotels—some in disrepair—to hotels with indoor/outdoor pools, decent restaurants, bars, and a ski concierge. Travel offices in Buenos Aires, Mendoza, and San Rafael sell ski packages with lift tickets, equipment, and, in some cases, transportation—which may involve a combination of bus rides and charter flights.

The ski season runs June through October, depending on the year’s snow. Most South Americans take their vacation in July, the month to avoid if you don't like crowds and high prices, although the weather is more benign. August has the most reliable snow conditions, September the most varied. Prices for lifts and lodging are lowest in June and from September to closing; rates are highest in July.

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Fodor's Essential Argentina: with the Wine Country, Uruguay & Chilean Patagonia

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