Sierra Nevada is a mountain range in the Andalucía region of Spain, in the province of Granada, and is popular with tourists all year round. Its name translates to “snowy mountain range” in Spanish.
The mountain range is popular with tourists because it has high peaks that allow for skiing for several months of the year, despite being located in an area of the Mediterranean Sea known for its plentiful sunshine and warm temperatures. Sierra Nevada contains the highest point in continental Spain, Mulhacen which stands an impressive 11,411 feet or 3,478 metres above sea level.
Scientists and geologists believe the Sierra Nevada was formed during the same era that the European Alps and the Atlas Mountains of Africa were formed, dating them back to between 1.8 million and 66 million years ago.
Skiing at Sierra Nevada
Apart from being stunningly beautiful, the Sierra Nevada mountain range is famous for the Sierra Nevada Ski Station. The skiing area is located on the northwestern slopes of Veleta, which is the third highest peak in Spain and Europe’s southernmost ski resort.
The ski season at the Sierra Nevada Ski Station can last from late November through to early May due to its high elevation. Towards the end of the season, however, the resort does often suffer from high winds, although the weather is nice and sunny.
Located a mere 27 kilometres from the city of Granada, visitors to the Sierra Nevada ski resort can ski and go for a swim in warm waters on the same day, which is something of a novelty and a rarity. Pardollano is the resort village at the foot of the slopes. Here you will find many ski-related shops that will sell or rent ski equipment, a small supermarket and a variety of cafes, bars, nightclubs and ski schools. Midway up the slopes is Borreguiles, the mid-station resort. Cable cars service Borreguiles and Padollano.
Be Wary of Possible Avalanches!
Obviously, the main reason tourists visit Sierra Nevada is the 105 kilometres of alpine skiing runs. The resort was already popular before the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships of 1996 were held at it; the championships were due to take place during 1995 but there was a lack of snow.
When there is snow in abundance, skiing should be possible almost anywhere on the mountains because the entire resort is above tree line. One popular run is the “Fuente del Tesoro” which is the official World Cup Giant Slalom run. It is extremely challenging, yet ridiculous fun, especially if you are an experienced skier.
Skiers are warned, however, that the resort is not one of those that carries out avalanche blasting, so it is not advised to leave the official pistes as there is a significant risk of avalanches occurring.
During the summer month, tourists’ attention switches from skiing to other activities such as walking, hiking, cycling and horse riding. Usually, one of the cable cars remains in operation even without any snow being there, making it easier for hikers to reach the summit. Once there, it is sometimes, on a clear day, possible to catch a glimpse of Africa.