The biggest ski resort in Argentina, Las Leñas is nestled high in a valley south of Mendoza City. Possibly the most famous ski resort in South America, the resort opened in 1983 and attracts thrill-seeking skiers and daredevils to its extreme runs. Las Leñas is renowned for its beauty as well as its challenge, and ski photography is popular at the resort.
Its isolated location means the nearest towns, San Rafael and Malargue, are several hours' drive away. The village of Las Leñas is mostly self-contained, with a number of shops, bars, restaurants and a few hotels, while the nightlife is nearly as famous as the skiing!
Advanced skiers will be in paradise at Las Leñas. There are many extreme slopes towards the top of the peaks, and a total absence of trees leaves plenty of room for creative detours. There are plenty of intermediate and beginner runs as well lower down. It should be noted that all but the beginner slopes shut down completely when the snow and wind picks up. There are several skiing and snowboarding schools that offer great family and kids' classes.
The shopping in Las Leñas is concentrated in La Piramide shopping centre, which has stores providing basics like skiing equipment, clothing and film, as well as delicious Patagonian chocolate, which is a popular souvenir from Argentina.
The resort is small and isolated, so most of the restaurants in Las Leñas are located in the hotels. Escorpio has an excellent restaurant serving French and Mediterranean cuisine, while Piscis' two eateries specialise in pizza and Italian food.
Las Leñas is nearly as famous for its buzzing nightlife as its skiing. There are a number of bars, pubs, nightclubs and discos in town, while the Casino Las Leñas is also quite a draw.
Las Leñas is an isolated purpose-built ski resort, so there isn't much to do off the slopes. There is a cinema in town.
Las Leñas is isolated and not easy or cheap to reach. The expert and intermediate slopes become unavailable in bad weather, which can last for two to three days at a time.