Val Gardena Ski Facts
LOCAL AREA: Val Gardena
CONNECTED AREA: Dolomiti Superski / Sella Ronda
SEASON START & END: Early December to Mid April
SKI ALTITUDE IN METRES: Ortisei 1236m – 2518m up to Secada / Vertical Drop 1282m
PISTES: Local 175km / Connected 500km+// Local Resort: 30% beginner / 60% intermediate / 10% advanced // Connected Area: 25% beginner 65% intermediate/ 10% advanced
LIFTS: Local Area 79 (Cable cars 4 / Gondola 9 / Chair lift 42 / Drag Lifts 24)
SNOW: 98% covered by 130 snow canons
LIFT TICKET ADULT 2023/24: (order online for best price) Local Resort: 67 Euros – 1 day / 338 Euros – 6 days // Connected Area: 72 Euros – 1 day / 363 Euros – 6 days
CROSS COUNTRY SKIING:130km of trails in 3 areas
LANGUAGE: Ladin, Italian, German
AIRPORT: Bolzano 45km (new skyalps flights to Bolzano for 2023/24) / Innsbruck 120km / Verona 190km
TRAIN: Bolzano 40km
OTHER FACTS: UNESCO status / Over 300 days of sunshine / 65 mountain huts / 30 km of winter hiking paths / Home to over 200 artists and sculptors / The area has fascinating History and Geology.
Val Gardena Town
The Val Gardena valley is steeped in history, people first inhabited the area about 8000 years ago from the Rhaetians, Lombards, Franconians to the Bavarians and the Romans. It has certainly been a popular place despite not being easily accessible until the 18th century. The continual mix of cultural influence over the years has created an area rich with tradition, art and language. As well as German and Italian being spoken the ancient Rhaeto-Romansh language of Ladin still holds strong with 90% of the inhabitants being of Ladin descent. The Val Gardena valley is stretched out across three villages: Santa Cristina (1428 metres), Selva di Gardena (1563m) and Ortisei (1236 metres) each with their own style and aesthetic.
Whilst we are on the topic of history, 2.5 million years ago the area began as a giant coral reef sitting in a primordial sea; this created the white-grey Dolomite rocks and over an age of constant volcanic activity and regular flooding the steep, rugged peaks that are unique to this region were formed. The local Museum Gherdëina has a 240 million-year-old Ichthyosaurus skeleton discovered in 1968 on the peak of Monte Secëda.
These ‘Pale Mountains’ act like a canvas as the sun begins to set and set these mountains on fire with beautiful bright orange colours. In 2009 the Puez-Odle Nature Park which surrounds Val Gardena became a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and rightly so, for this is surely one of the natural wonders of the world. Val Gardena is also the cradle of South Tyrolean art, specifically wood carving with over 200 local artists and sculptors.
Having previously visited Val Gardena in Autumn we could not wait to return and see the resort covered in snow. When it comes to hotels we recommend the Alpin Garden, a lovely 5-star adults-only hotel. Our room was high-design luxury with views to die for, the food and wine of the highest quality with exceptional service and the spa was outstanding, especially the Finnish sauna with panoramic views of mountains.
Skiing in Val Gardena
Where do I begin? Because Val Gardena is part of the Dolomiti Superski area it has a huge selection of skiing on its doorstep, with connections to 12 different ski areas all on one ski pass. The surrounding mountains are just beautiful, if Disney were to create the perfect fairytale-looking ski resort this would be it, along with the 1200kms of skiing in the whole of the Dolomiti Superski area; in fact the area is so large that one would need to keep coming back to explore every corner of the mountains. We missed many parts on our visit, so it looks like we will just have to keep going back ;)
The area is famous for the Sellaronda circuit, a 40km circumnavigation (Including ski lifts) around the Dolomites’ Sella Massif crossing four Ladin valleys and three the three Italian provinces Bolzano, Trento and Belluno. Selva Val Gardena is a great place to start the circuit from, going either clockwise (Orange signposts) or anticlockwise (Green signposts). Confident amateur skiers can attempt the circuit, but do allow about 5 hours so start before 10 am, although fast skiers can complete the circuit in half that time.
For a bit of fun check out the ‘Legendary 8’ slopes which cover a total of 36 km of some of the most beautiful and diverse skiing across all Val Gardena. The 8 pistes are:
‘Saslong’ the Legendary slope, ‘Cir’ the Women’s slope, ‘Ciampinoi No.3’ the ‘Steepest slope’, ‘Bravo’ the Romantic slope, ‘Falk’ the First slope; ‘Gardenissima’ the Sensational slope, ‘La Longia’ the Longest slope, ‘Pilat’ the New slope. Download the app to collect points and receive a prize, just use an NFC-enabled smartphone.
When it comes to eating on the mountain, you will be spoilt for choice with 65 mountain huts. One of our favourites was Sofie on the Secada mountain at 2410m, beautiful mountain architecture with stunning views and delicious Italian cuisine from the Prinoth family, make sure to go and photograph the Odle (Ladin for ‘needles’) group of peaks to the east with Mt. Sass Rigais being the tallest at 3025 metres. Other restaurants to check out even for just a coffee we recommend Costamula and Daniel. We also loved the Curona, cute and perfect for an end-of-the-day drink whilst watching the sunset.
The zone of Alpe di Siusi is a great starting point for beginners and families with children experiencing skis for the first time; with a couple of nursery pistes at the base of the mountain and more to found up the mountain.
Val Gardena has so much skiing for the intermediate skier, the choices are endless. Just be careful because the odd Black pistes can be steep. Our favourite piste is also the longest in the South Tyro, the “La Longia”, which is more than 10 km long, features 1273 metres of descent and stretches from mount Seceda to Ortisei. From wide, sweeping pistes to long schusses, a natural canyon with a frozen waterfall, this is what skiing was created for.
With some long, steep and often thin black pistes dotted around the area, there is some tough skiing to be found, particularly above Selva Val Gardena.
Ecology & Sustainability Facts
-The Dolomites are a gift to humanity, but their beauty means we have a duty to respect and take care of them.
-’Respect the Dolomites’ develops awareness-raising activities and events to promote sustainability in Val Gardena. Working on such activities as waste management, spring water with the ‘Ega dla Dolomites’ project, the care of mountain pastures, paths and grazing livestock, the use of clean energy from hydroelectric sources, and, in general, mobility, with the Val Gardena Mobile Card, charging stations for electric vehicles and the use of e-bikes.
-GSTC (Global Sustainable Tourism Council) certification granted for their commitment to preservation and protection of the natural area, its animals, plants and people.
-All projects, initiatives and events consider the economic, ecological and social impact in line with the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
-In addition, Val Gardena aims to reach tangible goals by 2026. These includes creating a mobility centre which will develop projects for car-free and accessible connections; reducing traffic on mountain passes (Gardena Pass and Sella Pass) by 20%; expanding bicycle paths on the mountain passes by 20%; increasing arrival on public transport by 10-15%; double e-charging stations; expanding renewable energy sources for businesses by 25%; reducing printed material and use of plastic by 20%.
-Val Gardena is working with the province of South Tyrol on the ‘Klimaland Südtirol’ and the ‘KlimaPlan Energie – Südtirol 2050’; initiatives to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions to achieve the Paris Agreement climate goals.
All photos copyright of DOLOMITES Val Gardena – Gröden Marketing / www.valgardena.it