Crans Montana

Crans Montana ski resort in the beautiful Valais region of Switzerland offers skiing on a sunny south facing high plateau, north of the Rhone Valley with amazing views of the surrounding Alps and its own summit – Plaine-Morte Glacier. This is French-speaking Swiss Alps, just two hours from Geneva, is reached via winding roads up the hillside or with a funicular from the village of Sierre.

December 2023, Vail Resorts has acquired majority ownership of Crans Montana, to expand their European presence, Vail added Andermatt Sedrun last season. Crans Montana will join the Epic Pass 2024-2025 ski season.

Crans Montana boasts 34 ski lifts, so the ski resort is well-connected, but basically there are 11 primary ski lifts in the network you will want to ski – a mix of gondolas, quads, six-packs, pomas and the summit funitel – a gondola tram hybrid. Your skiing starts at 1500-meters (5,000’) and climbs to just below 3000-meters (9,603’) at Plaine Morte glacier summit. Crans-Montana’s three gondolas from the villages of Crans and Montana and Barzettes flank the mountain. Yes, Crans and Montana are separate lodging villages.

With 140 km ski slopes and 27 named pistes (marked prepared trails), there’s plenty of family skiing to explore at Crans Montana. Views of the Matterhorn, Dent Blanche, Dom, Mont Blanc, and Pigne d’Arolla, and countless others surround you. Crans Montana is also home to seven lakes, making the scene even more stunning.

Much of Crans Montana’s skiing is on the gentler side compared to the infamous steeps of Verbier, so its ideal for families. However, Crans-Montana is home to one of the steepest runs in Europe, the FIS Downhill run #6 “Bouby Rombaldi – named after a Crans Montana legend – skier, hockey, and tennis champ, who had a career ending injury – but got a trail name! It is not super long, like Wengen’s downhill Lauberhorn or as technical as the Hahnenkamm of Kitzbühel, but several wild curves and sudden crops must be crazy racing at 80 mph. Crans Montana hosts the annual World Cup women’s downhill, and will hold the FIS World Cup Championships in 2027, a huge nod to the ski racing community here. Crans Montana has a steeped race history, in fact in January 7, 1911, the world’s first ever official Alpine ski race event was held here.

Riding Crans’ centrally located Violettes Express gondola, peer down at the dramatic Canyons – magnificent rock formations and caves. There are just eye-popping vistas everywhere you glance. Ironic that Crans has a big Blind Skier and Guide program -sorry – its among the most scenic ski resorts we’ve skied of our 260+ all over North American and Europe.

Crans Montana’s summit glacier Plaine Morte at 2,927-meters is the spectacular crown – even if you just ride the highest funicular up and down for the view and watch for chamois. From this 9,603′ summit, there’s plenty of extreme steeps, “scare yourself” off-piste and wild chutes, plus open bowls and faces – many of which are avalanche prone slopes – so be careful- hire a guide. The summit Plaine Morte has one prepared piste black diamond trail – Kandahar – that’s super long, well-pitched and pleasantly wide, it was our favorite trail.

For snow park lovers, Crans is also home to Switzerland’s second biggest snow park at the main mountain hub of Cry d’Er , where you’ll also find an umbrellas bar and big modern lodge.

For on mountain dining, Crans Montana has two dozen Swiss huts on the trail map but several were not open. Some are more modern, some rustic. Most offer phenomenal views. Chalet de Violette just below Violette gondola is a charming traditional cabin serving typical Swiss food at communal social wooden tables.

Merbé just below the Cry D’Er gondola midstation offers a gorgeous outdoor terrace, and a cozy mod interior, where they serve upscale cuisine including prime beef.

Since its humble beginnings, Crans Montana has worked to become a chic ski resort. Where the lift towers are emblazoned with Prada banners, Crans Montana’s official car is a Maserati, Swiss watch campaigns are displayed on mountain huts, and the gondolas are sponsored by Armani – seriously!

For après ski, at the top of the Cry D’Er Gondola is Cry D’Er with a panoramic outdoor setting with music and drinks, but you still have a long ski down – or download on the gondola! The Swiss don’t mind sitting outside sipping their drinks in the fresh cold air – enjoying the scene and vibe. There’s chic shopping in downtown Montana, plus upscale après ski and dining.

For lodging, Crans Ambassador is ultra-chic as a luxury hotel perched about the resort village.

Hotel Ad Eldorado is more casual, family-owned and friendly, in classic Swiss chalet-style setting.

Trouble in Paradise? As of our 2023 visit, the locals were not pleased with the Czech ownership, Vitek was not investing properly in the resort. To underscore that point, 2 lifts broke for an hour stranding riders on the chairlift. Twice we had 15-minute delays opening ski lifts. Terrain Parks were still under construction in late January. Now Vail Resort will likely invest in the Swiss ski resort, to be added to the Epic Pass for season 2024-2025.

Crans Montana is a major ski resort of Valais to visit on a Swiss ski safari including neighboring Anzère, Leukerbad, Grimentz/Zinal, St-Luc/Chandolin, Espace Dent Blanche and other smaller ski areas in the valley, plus Les 4 Vallées.

See more on Top Swiss Ski Resorts for Family Skiing and Top Swiss Ski Hotels