Only eight kilometers west of downtown, 13,500-hectare Reserva Nacional Magallanes is a mosaic of Patagonian steppe and southern beech forest that, in good winters, amasses enough snow for skiing. Despite its proximity to Punta Arenas , it gets barely 8,000 visitors per year, fewer than 300 of them foreigners.
From westbound Avenida Independencia, a good gravel road climbs gradually to a fork whose southern branch leads to the reserve’s Sector Andino, where the local Club Andino’s Centro de Esquí Cerro Mirador includes a refugio that serves meals, a ski school, and a single well-maintained chairlift. In summer, try the Sendero Mirador, a two-hour loop hike that winds through the forest and crosses the ski area; there’s also a mountain-bike circuit.
The northwesterly Sector Las Minas, which includes a gated picnic area, charges US$2 per person for adult admission but nothing for kids. A longer footpath joins the trail to the El Mirador summit, which offers panoramas east toward Punta Arenas, the strait, and Tierra del Fuego , and west toward Seno Otway .
Though some travel agencies offer tours from Punta Arenas, this would also be a good mountain-bike excursion.