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Overview

When UNESCO cited their spectacular glacial landscapes and geologic importance in naming the Dolomites a World Heritage Site, they didn’t even mention the best known claim this mountain range has to fame – skiing. Already well-known to avid skiers, Cortina D'Ampezzo soared to world attention as the venue for the 1956 Winter Olympic Games. Rising to elevations exceeding 10,000 feet, the Dolomites’ 18 snowcapped peaks are home to a dozen different ski complexes, of which Cortina D'Ampezzo is the largest, with more than three dozen lifts taking skiers to runs covering more than 745 miles (1200 km) of trails. Snowfields and pistes accessed by ...

When UNESCO cited their spectacular glacial landscapes and geologic importance in naming the Dolomites a World Heritage Site, they didn’t even mention the best known claim this mountain range has to fame – skiing. Already well-known to avid skiers, Cortina D'Ampezzo soared to world attention as the venue for the 1956 Winter Olympic Games. Rising to elevations exceeding 10,000 feet, the Dolomites’ 18 snowcapped peaks are home to a dozen different ski complexes, of which Cortina D'Ampezzo is the largest, with more than three dozen lifts taking skiers to runs covering more than 745 miles (1200 km) of trails. Snowfields and pistes accessed by lifts run to the top of the highest ridges, just below the summits, for long runs that continue right into the town itself. Val Gardena/Alpe di Siusi is a more intimate ski terrain, with just over 109 miles (175 km) of ski trails; when added to the three other valleys that are formed by the Gruppo del Sella (Alta Badia, Arabba/Marmolada and Val di Fassa) that region offers 310 miles (500 km) of ski trails. While less well-known mountains and resorts may not have the cachet of Cortina or its nightlife, neither do they have the prices or crowds. But there’s no need to limit a trip to one or two mountains. A single ski pass offers access to all 12 ski areas with terrain for all skill levels and ages. The road between Bolzano and Cortina is kept plowed and open all winter, but travelers should be aware that snowstorms can make travel unsafe, and allow an extra day if they must make a particular flight home.

Barbara Rogers
About the Expert

Barbara Radcliffe Rogers has written or coauthored more than 30 guidebooks, including The Portugal Traveler, Drive Around Portugal, City Spots Munich, City Spots Helsinki, City Spots Stockholm, Eating New England, and the Maine section of Thomas Cook's Independent Traveller USA.

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Barbara Rogers for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Northeastern Italy, across the provinces of Belluno, Bolzano-Bozen and Trento
  • Language: German, Italian, Ladin
  • Currency: Euro
  • Research: Wikipedia | South Tyrol
  • Weather: Rainfall

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Ski season begins in December and lasts through April.