The Chelyabinsk Region is an excellent destination for everyone who loves alpine skiing and snowboarding. The local ski resorts — of which there are over a dozen — accommodate both experienced athletes and complete newbies. You will find slopes of all difficulty levels, as well as the South Urals' most famous areas for off-piste skiing, where the real magic happens.
The skiing season in the South Urals lasts from November to April; most resorts have special equipment for making artificial snow and for lighting the slopes in the evening. The average winter temperatures stay reliably between −16°C and −7°C.
You can reach the slopes by private car, train or bus. If you are looking for good company to travel with, you can always make new friends in the resorts' social media communities.
By the way, the resorts' layouts are all pretty compact, so you can visit several of them during a single trip and pick the option that fits you best.
How to get there: Both resort complexes are located in the Miass City district.
The simplest (and also the most fun!) way of accessing the Sunny Valley resort is by the Snegir (Bullfinch) train, which departs from Chelyabinsk on weekends and during the holidays. It's a three-in-one travel package: the morning train takes skiers to Miass, where they are picked up by a bus that runs directly to the resort complex; and finally, upon arrival, the guests receive an unlimited 5-hour ski pass. The travel time is between an hour and a half and two hours (one way).
Rider ski resort complex is located in Miass proper. The nearest public transport stop is Ulitsa Mendeleeva (Mendeleev Street).
About: Sunny Valley resort has several "red" slopes for advanced skiing. Overall, there are more than ten skiing trails here, including training pistes and unique tracks for different skiing stunts, including a half-pipe and a slopestyle obstacle course. The total length of all pistes is 8 km; the maximum slope elevation is 230 m.
If extreme sports aren't your thing, there's still a lot to do at Sunny Valley: cross-country skiing paths are also created here in the winter. Other facilities include a tubing course, a skating rink, a husky centre and an equestrian club. If you are looking for more adventure, just take a ski lift to the peak of the mountain at which the resort is located (Mount Izvestnaya).
The resort is also home to a tiny artisanal cheese dairy, Izvestnaya, which makes the most delicious cheeses.
Rider is a compact ski resort with slopes rising up to 100 m in height and trails 500 m long. It has an excellent sports school, as well as skiing and snowboarding simulators that help beginners master the basic techniques. Adrenaline junkies must try Rider's extreme snow park! And all guests are welcome to the resort's massage parlours and gym with trampolines and exercise equipment. Kids can stay at the Rider Camp, which is open throughout the year.
Sunny Valley and Rider are both perfect for those who are just venturing into the world of skiing or snowboarding.
If you decide to take a break from training, consider a road trip to Lake Turgoyak, known as "Baikal's younger brother". It is just 5 km away. Winter is also the best time to take a trek across the ice and reach the mystical Vera's Island.
If you stop in Miass, we recommend taking a look at Russia's only pelmeni museum.
Where to stay: the Sunny Valley ski resort complex has its own hotels and apartments for rent. You can even rent a chalet! All the essential facilities are within easy reach, from restaurants and children's playgrounds to saunas, picnic areas, a skating rink, a tubing course, a paintball centre, snowmobile rentals and even a husky and equestrian centre. You might also want to book accommodation in Miass: this way, you will be able to spend your free time exploring the local landmarks. It only takes 20 minutes to get from Miass to Solidol (which is what the locals call the ski resort).
Ski pass: the Sunny Valley ski resort has special pricing categories for adults, students and children under 7. There are different pass types: for a certain number of hours, or for a certain number of ski lift rides. Blocks of passes are available as well. The lift pass is a great option for peak season when there might be long lines in front of the lift.
Rider's ski passes are hourly only, but if you join the ski resort's loyalty club (almost entirely for free), you will get discounts and other nice bonuses.
How to get there: You will find the Eurasia centre near the town of Kusa. It's about 3 hours away from Chelyabinsk if you go by car (follow the M5 Highway and look out for the Eurasia road sign after Zlatoust) or 4 hours if you go by bus. You can also reach the centre from Ufa or Yekaterinburg. Travel time is at least 4 hours. You will have to pay a toll to access the centre.
About: Eurasia is currently undergoing active development. The guests can make use of 6 fully equipped pistes, 2 of which are lit up in the evening. Beginner skiers will feel most comfortable exploring the two "green" routes, 1.5 km each. Starting from the intermediate level and higher, guests are welcome to try out a more manicured piste. How about Bigfoot's Path? This route has bumps, overhanging trees and counter slopes galore! You can ski off-piste in wooded areas as well. The resort also has a snow park for anyone into extreme stunts. Altogether, the resort's pistes are more than 12 km long. The highest slope elevation is 350 m.
Eurasia boasts a 4-seat chairlift and an observation deck on the peak of Mount Kapanets, which offers incredible views over the alpine landscape. If you ever get tired of skiing, you can try out the tubing course instead, check out the climbing wall, or make a trip to Kusinochka, a valenki (traditional Russian felt winter boots) factory in the town of Kusa. Group tours of the factory must be arranged in advance.
Eurasia has its own hotel complex, with a total capacity of 78 rooms, as well as a guest house in the nearby pine forest. You will also find plenty of places to stay in the nearest town, Kusa, as well as in the village of Medvedevka or maybe a bit further in Zlatoust (which, by the way, is worth a separate visit). If you are travelling to Eurasia from Zlatoust, the one-way journey will take you just under an hour.
Ski pass: you can buy a ski pass for a certain amount of time (between 2 and 5 hours; the next grade is for 24 hours), for a certain number of ski lift rides (starting from 3) or even for the whole season. The chairlift has its own fees.
How to get there: the nearest railway station, Vyazovaya, is 26 km away from the city. After you get there, jump in a taxi or bus 113, which runs to the resort 24/7. The drive from Chelyabinsk to Zavyalikha takes about 3–4 hours.
About: Zavyalikha is one of the most famous ski resorts in the South Urals. The key appeal of this magical, fairy-tale mountain is the off-piste skiing. Although people do come here for the pistes as well: altogether they stretch for more than 20 km. The slope height gets up to 430 m.
Ski pass: there are different rates, either by the hour or by the number of ski lift rides. A limited pass of this type would be a bargain during the peak season. The resort offers equipment rentals and locker rooms.
How to get there: you will find both ski resorts in the Ashinsky District of the Chelyabinsk Region.
The travel time from Chelyabinsk (along the M5 Ural Highway) is about 5 hours. Be mindful of traffic and weather conditions! You can also take the night train to the towns of Minyar or Asha. If you are travelling from Ufa, the trip will be much shorter (about 80 km). It takes half an hour's drive to get from one city to the other.
About: Asha is where experienced skiers go. Adzhigardak doesn't have any chairlifts, only surface lifts. Which makes it tough to snowboard here, especially if you are a beginner.
The slopes are over 20 km long, and elevation differences reach 400 m. But the facility's key appeal, of course, lies in its free-riding zones, which have breath-taking natural terrain. This region is known as the snowiest part of the Urals.
Minyar is a little smaller (6 km of slopes, with a slope height of up to 350 m). But despite its more intimate size, this complex has a whopping three "red" routes and even two "black" routes, which are completely natural, for those who love going entirely off-piste. Beginners will find something for their own speed as well.
Where to stay: Minyar has its own hotel complex, along with private accommodation rentals. The nearby town of Asha offers great accommodation choices, but you will get a ski pass discount if you stay at the complex.
Ski pass: Adzhigardak sells blocks of hourly passes, regardless of when you are going to the slope, so you will have to be mindful of the schedule. Minyar offers ski passes that are valid for 1 to 5 hours from the time of purchase.
How to get there: Egoza is not far from the town of Kyshtym, about an hour and a half or two hours by car if you depart from Chelyabinsk. Another option would be to reach Kyshtym by bus or train and then catch a taxi.
About: Mount Egoza is not particularly tall; perfect for an exciting weekend getaway. There are only 2 pistes here (along with a tubing course and a snow park). You can reach them by platter pull and then come down along one of the several slopes of different complexity levels. One of them is intended for beginner and intermediate-level skiers and snowboarders; another has "red" routes with steep angles of up to 32 degrees. Other features include a snow groomer and artificial snow machines for both pistes. The skiing trails span more than 3 km and the slopes can be as tall as 400 m.
Note: the Egoza complex is open from Friday to Sunday only. You cannot ski in the evenings.
Where to stay: feel free to book accommodation at the Egoza Bungalow, which you will find within 2 km of the complex, or at the Provintsiya sports and tourism complex in the village of Slyudorudnik. You could also try looking for a place to stay in Kyshtyn or consider one of the many guesthouses that are scattered around Mount Egoza. We recommend combining a weekend at the Egoza complex with a trip to Mount Sugomak.
Ski pass: hourly only for the beginners' ski lift. If you are interested in the main ski lift, though, you will be able to get either an hourly ski pass or a ski pass for a certain number of rides.
Kyshtym, Chelyabinsk Region, Russia
Make sure to check the weather and consult the schedule on the ski resorts' official social media pages before setting out. Sometimes the resorts shut down for maintenance or because of bad weather.