Gargellen Ski Resort

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Explore all the possibilities at Gargellen ski resort in Vorarlberg Austria
Explore all the possibilities at Gargellen ski resort in Vorarlberg Austria
Get up to the goods via a comfortable gondola ride at Gargellen ski resort
Get up to the goods via a comfortable gondola ride at Gargellen ski resort
Gargellen ski resort is centred on the high alpine Schafberg plateau
Gargellen ski resort is centred on the high alpine Schafberg plateau
Heading into powder at the top of the Nidla slope at Gargellen ski resort
Heading into powder at the top of the Nidla slope at Gargellen ski resort
Powder turns on the flanks of Madrisa at Gargellen ski resort
Powder turns on the flanks of Madrisa at Gargellen ski resort
Gargellen town
Gargellen town 'centre' with the gondola heading up to the Schafberg plateau
Morning freshies under the Kristallbahn at Gargellen ski resort
Morning freshies under the Kristallbahn at Gargellen ski resort
Gargellner Kopfe chair lifts to the highest point in the resort, 2,300m
Gargellner Kopfe chair lifts to the highest point in the resort, 2,300m
Powder skiing at Gargellen below Madrisa
Powder skiing at Gargellen below Madrisa
Pizzeria Barga at Vergalda is one of Gargellen
Pizzeria Barga at Vergalda is one of Gargellen's best ski-in eateries
Gargellen ski terrain on the Schafberg plateau viewed from the highest point
Gargellen ski terrain on the Schafberg plateau viewed from the highest point
Super wide piste trail 6a provides a perfect exit from the off-piste terrain at Gargellen
Super wide piste trail 6a provides a perfect exit from the off-piste terrain at Gargellen
Freeride ski terrain under the old Gargellen Schafberg chair
Freeride ski terrain under the old Gargellen Schafberg chair
The Nidla slope at Gargellen has plenty for freeride powder skiing addicts
The Nidla slope at Gargellen has plenty for freeride powder skiing addicts
Nidla slope exit just before piste trail 6 at Gargellen ski resort Austria
Nidla slope exit just before piste trail 6 at Gargellen ski resort Austria
Intermediate piste trail 1 at Gargellen with the looming mass of Madrisa in the background
Intermediate piste trail 1 at Gargellen with the looming mass of Madrisa in the background
Fresh tracks at Gargellen ski resort
Fresh tracks at Gargellen ski resort
Car parking for day-trippers just above Gargellen village at the gondola valley station
Car parking for day-trippers just above Gargellen village at the gondola valley station
Looking down intermediate piste trail 1 toward Vergalda at Gargellen ski resort
Looking down intermediate piste trail 1 toward Vergalda at Gargellen ski resort
Explore Gargellen ski resort in Vorarlberg Austria - a Powderhounds Gem!
Explore Gargellen ski resort in Vorarlberg Austria - a Powderhounds Gem!

Gargellen Ski Resort

Readers Ratings

Gargellen

Gargellen4/54
Gargellen4 out of 5 based on 4 reviews
  • Recommend
    100%
  • Would Revisit
    100%
Best French Alps Powder Ski resorts
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Nearby Ski Resort

Silvretta Montafon

     Gargellen Ski Trail Map
  • Gargellen Ski Trail Map
  • Vertical (m)
    1,430m - 2,300m (870m)
  • Average Snow Fall
    7 - 10m
  • Lifts (8)
    1 Gondola
    3 Chairs
  • Opening Dates & Times
    Early December to mid-April
    8:30am to 4:30pm
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs - 38km (incl. routes)
    Longest run - 6km+
    Advanced - 35%
    Intermediate - 15%
    Beginner - 55%

    Montafon-Brandnertal - 295km
  • Ski Lift Pass Price
    Day Ticket 21/22
    Adult - €53
    Child - €30.70
    Child u/6yr - Free
    Lift passes of 2.5 days or more duration are valid in all Montafon Brandnertal ski resorts
     Montafon-Brandnertal Ski Resort Map
  • Montafon-Brandnertal Ski Resort Map

Gargellen Ski Resort Austria

Gargellen ski resort is nestled in a high alpine valley below the dark peak of Madrisa on the Swiss border. Historically known as the 'Smugglers Village', it has a deserved reputation for the odd combination of long, easy-going piste trails & fabulous, steep freeride terrain. Ski tours to Klosters in Switzerland are mandatory when visiting the region, as is checking out the fabulous Silvretta-Montafon resort.

We highly rate what Gargellen has to offer. It is a place that deserves 'a moment of respectful silence' for the lack of crowds plus superb snow depth & quality which put it firmly in the 'Secret Stash' category. Its overall offering, whilst not for everyone, make it a certified Powderhounds gem.

Pros & Cons for Gargellen Ski Resort

Pros

  • Rated number 1 in the Best Ski Resort for Powderhounds in Europe category in 2022.
  • Delightful snow-clad Austrian Alps village & ski resort.
  • Snow-sure location with most terrain above 1,750m altitude & north to east aspect.
  • Uncrowded, even on a powder day.
  • Numerous super long valley trails for beginners & intermediates.
  • Quality off-piste routes for advanced skiers & snowboarders with easy exits via groomed valley trails.
  • Great value multi-day lift pass that includes all the Montafon-Brandnertal ski resorts.
  • Wonderful base for ski tours into Switzerland around Madrisa & down to Klosters.
  • Public transport access by train & bus is good.
  • One ski-in ski-out pizza joint of the highest quality and 3 other excellent mountain restaurants.
  • Ski-in ski-out accommodation available.

Cons

  • Relatively limited intermediate terrain (highly unusual for Austria).
  • Limited overall on-piste terrain (but it links in beautifully with the off-piste terrain!).
  • Paying for parking out in the open (a rarity in Europe), plus one of the most awful and expensive coffees (all too common in Europe!) in the main 'self-service' restaurant.
  • Limited non-ski activities.

Pro or Con (depending on your perspective!)

  • Gargellen is a small village & ski area that may or may not provide all one expects of an Austrian ski holiday (suits us!). It is best combined with skiing at Silvretta Montafon.
  • Accommodation can be hard to get in the village but thankfully nearby towns can provide alternatives.
  • Shortish skiable verticals for a European resort, but perfectly adequate given the overall scenario.
  • Some aging lift infrastructure, but it doesn't impact the resort negatively.
  • Incredibly quiet after hours (how is the serenity!).

Skiing & Snowboarding, Lift & Terrain

Statistically a relatively small ski resort by European standards, Gargellen skiing & snowboarding terrain is best suited to abilities at either end of the ability scale and is a paradise for powder hounds. Its comparatively modest 870m of skiable vertical and only 38km of trails is equalled by its seemingly unimpressive main lift infrastructure including only 1 gondola & 3 chairlifts. But we all know there are lies, damn lies and statistics, and Gargellen's stats are case in point.

See here for the Gargellen ski trail map.

On the piste, beginners progressing to intermediates have the broad Schafberg plateau to play on, plus several magnificent valley trails up to over 6km long & down entire skiable vertical to wear out their legs. All other abilities will love riding the deserted groomers as fast as one can. Advanced pistes 1a & 10 are particularly tear-inducing! On powder days, advanced & expert riders will enjoy the many freeride routes & zones, including the famous north-aspect Nidla slope, plus slopes on the flanks of Madrisa and loads of forest and steeps between the two. Much of the off-piste terrain has only about 400 to 550m of skiable vertical in any one pitch, but it is more than adequate to provide a yipping & whooping good time.

Unusual in Austria, intermediates have relatively limited opportunities but may find Gargellen a great place to progress into the off-piste via the marked routes, particularly the easy Gandasee (route 12), which can be joined via numerous short freeride pitches from the upper-parts of piste trail 2. Nearby Silvretta Montafon provides way more options and is linked by a free ski bus to the resort’s main gondola base at St Gallenkirch.

Ski-touring in the region is first rate. Iconic tours around the peak of Madrisa & into Switzerland toward Klosters should be everyone’s list of ’ski-tours to do before I am too old & feeble’.

The ski lifts at Gargellen are aging but that is no impediment to having a great time here. The most recent, Kristallbahn, was installed in season 09/10 and serves the best freeride terrain. Other lifts are all pre-2000. A sure sign of age is when the gondola ski racks don’t fit fat skis! Thankfully the majority of the ski terrain can be ridden off just 3 lifts - the long gondola up from the village to Schafberg (2,130m), the Kristall chair up to 2,272m (& the top of the Nidla freeride routes), plus the Gargellner Köpfe up to the modest highest lifted point in the resort at 2,300m. All other lifts are of little importance if the snow is top to bottom, although the old Gargellner Alpe-Schafberg double chair can be useful if just cutting laps on the mid-mountain off-piste terrain! During storms, the surface lift at Vergalda (near the excellent Pizzeria Barga) provides sheltered turns for novices, as does the Madrisa surface tow just above Gargellen village.

Lift Passes Valid in Montafon-Brandnertal Resorts

Gargellen has a great value 'local' lift' pass just valid for the resort. beyond that, all ski passes of 2½ or more days duration are valid for the entire Montafon-Brandnertal ski region adding another 257km of piste trails for a grand total of 295km on the one lift pass. The lift pass is valid in Silvretta Montafon (on our list of powder day pleasures), Golm & Brandnertal to name but the larger resorts.

See here for the Montafon-Brandnertal ski resorts map.

Where is Gargellen Austria?

The Gargellen ski resort is in the western Austrian state of Vorarlberg, extremely close to the Swiss border. The base village of Gargellen is 160km (2¼hr) by road west of Innsbruck & 29km (20min) southeast of Bludenz. The nearest train station is at Schruns, 16km by road north of Gargellen.

The closest major airport is Innsbruck (INN), but all non-UK/European travellers will find Zurich (ZRH) a better option at only 180km (2¼hr) away by road or Munich (MUC) (295km/3 to 4hr by road). If not interested in a rental car, private transfers provide the fastest & most comfortable ride to the ski resort. Search & book here for all airport transfers to Gargellen.

To Protect Our Winters (POW), we recommend using the train & bus for travel to Gargellen. The regional spur line from Bludenz terminates at Schruns after a short 20min journey. From Schruns, one can catch the regular route 87 bus direct to Gargellen; a journey of 30min, with at least 8 bus services running through the day in winter. Further along the route, an additional two services run from the new, improved St Gallenkirch ski lift base (part of Silvretta Montafon resort) to Gargellen. From Innsbruck central station, the train & bus journey is around 2¾ to 3½hr with a change at Bludenz & Schruns. From Zurich airport the journey is longer by train but can still be done in 3½ to 4½hr depending on the service chosen. The best trains to select go direct from the Zurich airport station in the direction of Innsbruck, & then change along the way at Bregenz for Schruns. From Munich airport, take the local S-Bahn (S8 line is best) to München Hauptbahnhof (Munich Central Station) and then a direct train to Bludenz before the local train to Schruns. Total train journey time from Munich airport to Schruns is around 4½hr, from where local taxis can easily complete the journey to your hotel if the local bus doesn’t suit.

Search & book here for train tickets to Bregenz, Bludenz & Schruns. Buy bus tickets from the driver.

Gargellen Accommodation

The village of Gargellen is a sparse arrangement of buildings set in a mountain valley of forest & meadow. Accommodation ranges from new ski-in ski-out apartments & guesthouses, to a cluster of traditional & contemporary 3 to 4-star hotels near the 'centre' of the village. Services are limited, but sometimes that is what helps make a place so good. Uncrowded, serenely quiet after-hours, and seemingly a world away from the rest of Europe.

Search & book here for all Gargellen ski accommodation.

If happy to self-cater, the pick of the Gargellen accommodation is the modern ski-in ski-out Landal Hochmontafon Apartments & the wonderful Brücklmeier Ferienwohnungen above the village.

On the main street through the centre of the village, less than 200m from the gondola base, the traditional (& affordable) Pension Edelweiss is worth checking out. Further along, there are several superb hotels clustered together, including Hotel Bradabella - Montafon, Hotel Bachmann, and Alpenhotel Heimspitze, plus the Bohemia Apartments, Alpenhaus Montafon apartments and the fantastic Gasthof-Pension Wulfenia.

Slightly further down the road away from the lifts, the Hotel Mateera Gargellen, Haus Gariella & Haus Sursilva all have affordable rooms & apartments, plus views up the valley and are still within walking distance to the lifts.

Above the village, further up the valley is the hamlet of Vergalda. Accesible by car or on ski via piste trails 2c & 2b, the locality is a cluster of buildings set around the Vergalden surface tow and ski run, just above the Pizzeria Barga. The traditional Ritzenspitze & the brand new Alpin Resort Montafon have ski-in ski-out apartments available to suit all tastes and requirements.

An alternative to the quiet of Gargellen is nearby St Gallenkirch. It is the beautifully located to access both parts of the Silvretta Montafon ski area, with gondola lift connections to the Hochjoch & Nova from a base just out of town. For the ultimate proximity to the gondola station, try the new Revier Mountain Lodge Montafon. The bus ride or drive up to Gargellen is only a few minutes.

Schruns is the gateway town the region and has ample accommodation options, all relevant services, plus the best all-round transport links by virtue of its train station. Access to the Hochjoch sector of Silvretta Montafon via a cable car & gondola is excellent, and the drive or bus up to Gargellen is a mere 15 to 30min.

Search & book here for all Silvretta Montafon ski accommodation.

Review

The Powderhounds visited Gargellen in early February 2022 and had a fabulous time after a huge winter storm had loaded up the slopes. Click on the review link in the left column (or top of the page if on a mobile) to read all the reviews.

See how Gargellen compares to the rest of the European resorts on the Europe ski resort ratings page.

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Tours in or near Gargellen

Single-Base, Single-Ski-Area Tours

Ride & Learn in the Alps
GUIDED OFF-PISTE SKIING & LEARNING
4 Days | 4 Nights | 4 Days Skiing
Ability: Intermediate to Advanced
The Ride & Learn tour is an 'active learning' powder-chaser trip where the location in the Alps is dictated by the best powder conditions at the time. Options include Livigno, Santa Caterina Italy, Graubuenden Switzerland or Montafon Austria. Ride amazing off-piste snow & do it safely over a long weekend ...
Price p/p Base/invoice currency is EUR, per person
Price includes all taxes
*displayed price may vary slightly due to exchange rate fluctuations
USD 467
View Details
 
See all Single-Base, Single-Ski-Area tours that visit Gargellen here
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