Ok, so you’ve read our earlier posts on caravan skiing, decided you’re up for the challenge, and you have around two weeks to spare?
Well, here’s Winterised’s diary for a couple of weeks in the beautiful Tiroler Oberland and Reschenpass Valley in Austria. A caravan friendly, toll free journey to a brilliant winter sports region, which is little known to the UK mass market, but has some great skiing, good campsites, and a glacier thrown in for good measure. Oh, and if you promise not to tell too many people about it, Motorhomers can come too!
Tiroler Oberland and Reschenpass Valley – Where?
If you have never heard of it, don’t worry; plenty of UK skiers haven’t either. The Reschenpass Valley road starts about 45 miles west of Innsbruck and follows the 180 road all the way to the Italian border at Belpiano.
Over its 32 mile length it gives access to no less than 6 ski areas and offers some excellent winter sports for skiers and boarders of all levels. It is ideal for caravan skiers as the ski stations are easily accessed by car from the 180, which is invariably clear of snow, as it’s a major trunk route. For Motorhomers who do not wish to use their vehicles, there is a good bus service along the valley, and from our main recommended campsite, it’s free for two of the ski areas.
Where are we staying?
Our recommended campsite is Aktiv Camping Prutz (above), which is situated a few minutes walk from the village of Prutz alongside the River Inn and is easy to access from the 180 main road. We strongly advise advance booking, especially during peak season.
We recommend planning on 2.5 days each way for this trip. 620 miles of this toll-free 675 mile journey is motorway, so straightforward driving. However, you can never bank on blue skies and dry roads in Europe and the Alps in winter and it pays to allow for a second night en route in case you encounter any problems. It also allows a quick visit to one of our favourite stopovers in Fussen, which is great for stocking up on groceries, cheap LPG and bottled gas. It is also a nice traditional Bavarian town with some great restaurants and cafes.
An early start is needed for this trip if you are going to make it to Fussen in time for some shopping and we normally aim to get the 0750 or 0820 Eurotunnel and head for the Belgian border without delay. Our campsite for tonight is the excellent Campingplatz Eisenbachtal – a 325 mile drive from Calais. General route advice can be found here, but if you are unlucky enough to be caught in bad weather and need an earlier stopover, Camping Aachen is open 24/7 and easy to access late in the evening.
Another early start is advised, as Campingplatz Eisenbachtal is close to the A3 and you will quickly be heading for Wurzburg and the junction with the A7. Turn south on the A7 and head for Fussen, which from this point is only 185 miles away. Our recommended stopover here is Wohnmobilplatz Sportstudio, which is a privately owned Stellplatz and accepts caravans. Drop the caravan, pay in the Sports Centre and head for the shops!
Fussen is 10 minutes from the 179 Fernpass, which offers a steady climb over the mountains into Austria to join the 181 via Imst and the 180 into the valley, just 60 miles to Aktiv Camping Prutz. If you are concerned about weather conditions over the Fernpass you can check on the cameras here. If you happen to be leaving Fussen on a Saturday morning, especially in peak season, our advice is to be on the move early as the Fernpass can be very busy at weekends by 0830.
We usually try and get into the campsite before they close at noon for lunch, but if you don’t the owner Markus Fedler leaves a list of vacant pitches including reserved ones with clients names, on the noticeboard next to reception. Once pitched, ski hire and service is available in Prutz village at Intersport Pregenzer on Dorfstrasse, and if you are super keen there may even be time for a couple of hours on piste with Fendels being ideal about 1.5 miles from the campsite.
Where to ski – What ski pass to buy
With so much on offer in the Reschenpass valley it’s difficult to know where to start and also which of the various ski passes to buy, so here is a sample of what’s on offer and some suggestions for how to fit it all in.
- Serfaus, Fiss, Ladis is certainly worth 3/4 mid week days in your diary to enjoy its well organised and linked piste network
- Reserve a sunny day and make the scenic 45 minute drive up to the Kaunertal Glacier, you won’t be disappointed
- Split a day to try Venet and Fendels
- Allow 2/3 days to explore the Zwei Lander Ski arena from Nauders
- As a taster, drive the 25 miles into Switzerland to the tax-free town of Samnaun, if not for the chance to ski some of the extensive Ischgl area from its Swiss link, but for the duty free fuel and spirits!
(All distances in brackets are from the campsite).
Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis (10 kms)
A collaboration of three linked ski villages offering 210 kms of piste rising to 2850m. Good quality on piste restaurants and a recommended evening ski show in Fiss and Serfaus each week through the season. There are a wide range of pistes available to suit all levels but the resort can be saturated with skiers at weekends and February peak times. It is much quieter in January & March and there is a free ski bus service from the campsite to Fiss where a large free car park is also available.
Fendels – Kaunertal Glacier (5kms & 30kms)
Fendels is a very small ski area with a blue, two reds, a black run, and two on piste restaurants. There is an excellent learners area, which is locally well regarded for lessons. The ski pass covers the glacier about 40 minutes away, which has challenging reds & blacks from 3150m. It’s worth the effort on a sunny day as the views are stunning and the runs just a bit on the scary side.
Venet (15 kms)
Small resort accessed by gondola in Zams. Only a handful of runs, but fantastic long reds and blues, which are almost deserted during off peak times. Stunning scenery.
With over 100 kms of piste rising up to 2850m this is a great resort with a range of pistes to suit all abilities. It has a well regarded ski school and some very reasonably priced on piste restaurants. Available on a linked ticket with Nauders is:
Belpiano-St Valentino (40kms)
Situated just over the Italian border about 10km from Nauders, this is a beautiful area close to Lac de Reisia lift linked to Graum & Reisia and worth a day just to enjoy the long cruising reds, a couple of wicked blacks and some stunning scenery. A little further on into Italy is Wattles, a tiny resort on the same ski pass.
Samnaun / Ischgl (35kms)
Whilst a little time consuming to get to from Prutz, Samnaun is worth the effort to access the 240kms of the linked Ischgl ski area. The lift system out of Samnaun is very modern and fast and although it doesn’t offer much for beginners is an intermediate paradise with long cruising reds and the superb scenic route 80 return to the village.
Each of the ski areas have their own ski passes available from half day upwards including some great deals for families and seniors, but with a potential 9 days skiing on this trip the Ski 6 Card offers better value over the Snowcard Gold as you really need more time to fully explore Ischgl from the Samnaun lift. As you move along the valley closer to Italy the Zwei Lander Skiareana pass is also great value. Dependent on your age and the size of your party, some time researching the ski pass options in advance is time well spent.
As we hope you will find, there is a lot more to this area than you have time to fully cover in a 14/15-day trip from the UK, it is definitely worth the effort and has the added benefit of being a budget friendly area when compared to some of the well-known Austrian areas.
If your diary only allows you to start your run home on a Saturday, start early. The 180 can get horribly busy at weekends as a combination of changeover days and day-trippers from Innsbruck clog the roads. We advise being on the move by 0700, which will allow you to be on the Fernpass before 0800 and heading north on the A7 in Germany by around 1000, weather permitting. The A8 west bound will be busy on Saturdays, so retracing your outbound journey is recommended, perhaps aiming for camping Aachen if you have two drivers and so reaching Calais by early afternoon on Sunday. If leaving Prutz on a Sunday, an early start is needed again, but in Germany HGV traffic will be negligible, so routing home via Luxembourg is an option. For additional stopover suggestions, check out Snomadites.com.
- For your outward journey, it is always possible with two drivers and favourable driving conditions that you will arrive in the Fussen area with plenty of time to spare on day two. If you don’t need the shops, and are happy to arrive in Prutz after dark, give Markus Fedler a call as he can nearly always squeeze you in somewhere overnight even if your allocated pitch isn’t free until the next day.
- Before you head for home, we’ll let you into a Winterised secret. If you can manage an extended trip, or found the journey down through Germany and over the Fernpass straightforward, the Reschenpass valley is also the ‘back door’ to the amazing Italian resort of Livigno. Follow the 180 just 12 miles from Prutz, take the 184 to cross into Switzerland and the 27 to Zernez where you climb up the 28 to the Munt La Schera tunnel and through to Livigno just 5 miles away. It’s 60 miles from Prutz on good roads and the only toll is the £30 return for the tunnel. As a route from the UK it can save you hundreds of pounds in tolls, trains and vignettes and for Motorhomers, not a GoBox in sight!
- It is mandatory to have winter tyres (LINK 11) fitted from October to April in Germany and Austria, and even if you have the correct identifying markers on your number plates, you will still need a GB/UK sticker on your car and caravan for Switzerland.
- Motorhomers who are thinking about using this itinerary, who find it less time consuming to move sites than caravanners, may wish to consider splitting their trip between Aktiv Camping Prutz and Alpen Camping in Nauders. This will allow much easier access to the free ski bus network at both ends of the valley. There is also an unofficial Stellplatz at the Kaunertal Glacier. (LINK 12)
Happy Caravan Skiing!