Saku Ski Garden Parada: From the expressway parking lot straight to the slopes!

April 08, 2021
Saku Ski Garden Parada is a day-trip ski resort that is connected directly to an expressway parking lot - a rarity even in Japan. Just park your car in the parking lot and go up the large escalator near it, and the slope will stretch out in front of you. The best thing about this resort is that it’s directly accessible from the expressway - there’s no need to go up narrow, steep, and snowy roads to get there. In contrast to Gala Yuzawa Snow Resort, which is connected directly to the station and is very easy to get to via Shinkansen, Saku Ski Garden Parada has established itself as an urban ski resort, easy to access by car. Here we will introduce you to Saku Ski Garden Parada, which is known as one of Nagano’s most family-friendly slopes.

A rare find - slopes you can access without snow tires

Full view of the slopes
This ski resort, as mentioned before, is extremely easy to get to, at only a 1-2 hour drive away from the Nerima Interchange near the Tokyo metropolitan area. This also makes it possible for you to head there from the city for a day trip. And depending on the time frame, you’ll be able to avoid traffic on your way there as well.

The ski slope covers a large area, and is divided into the South Area and North Area. South Area is the slopes you can get to directly from the expressway. Visitors that want to park at North Area should bring studless snow tires with them, just in case, as it takes about a 5-10 minute drive on local roads to get to that area.

Because the summits of the two areas are connected, you can also just leave your car at the expressway parking lot and head into North Area from the summit. This may be dangerous, however, if you’re not at least an intermediate- level skier, since the summit area has many high-difficulty courses.

Slope configurations for total beginners

Map of courses
These slopes are geared towards beginner skiers. The difficulty breakdown for the courses is 40% beginner, 40% intermediate, and 20% advanced. Since there aren’t very many places oriented towards advanced skiers, this is a ski resort with a difficulty level aimed mainly at beginners and families. And indeed if you look out over the slopes, you’ll see mostly families.

The courses are all generally quite flat, so they’re easy to play around on. North Area has larger slope facilities, and offers a lot more kids’ lessons. So if you want to base yourself in North Area for your trip, you’ll want to park your car in the North Area parking lot in advance. The Kids Lands are almost the same for the South Area and North Area, however, so families can have just as much fun in either of the two areas.

Clear skies an astounding 90% of the time!

Skiers riding the lifts
Saku Ski Garden Parada is also known for its great weather. There are clear skies over 90% of the time during the season, meaning you’ll be able to ski under a sunny, cloudless sky.

The ski resort is also known for the clarity of the scenery from near the summit, as well as the astounding view you get when you ski down the slopes. It has everything you need to be able to ski while enjoying the extraordinary mountain scenery that stretches out before you.

Since it’s situated in an area of Nagano Prefecture that doesn’t get much snow, the courses are mainly made using snowmaking machines. But because they use so many of these machines to create snow on the slopes, the snow quality - depending on certain conditions - is just as good as that of natural snow.

Kids Land
Kids Land is a perfect place to play with your kids, and is fun for the whole family. The playground area is adored by families for how large it is, with a slope for sledding and a tubing course, that lets you play with your kids for hours and hours without getting bored. Both Kids Lands are equipped with a large-scale conveyer belt, which allows the kids to move easily and comfortably through the area at all times.

This ski resort is also known for its many kids’ lessons. Since North Area is better known for the lesson facilities and quality of the lessons themselves, it may be a good idea to include more variety in your trip, and change the area you’re in depending on your kids’ level of skill.

Narrow advanced course near the summit

Narrow course
Point of connection between the North Area and South Area. The courses near the summit are narrow and steep, and oriented towards advanced skiers. The difficulty level of the entire course, however, is fairly low, and definitely doable if you are at least an intermediate-level skier. Another thing about this resort is that, since most of the beginners are playing around in the base area, there aren’t very many people near the summit. If you have higher than beginner-level skill, you may have a more comfortable skiing experience if you base yourself near the summit of the slopes.

Ease the aching from your day of skiing at an open air bath with extraordinary scenery

Onsen near the expressway
Day-trip onsen Miharashi-no-Yu is located right near South Area. It’s the perfect place to warm your body, chilled from your day of skiing. One of the great things about this onsen is the open air bath, from which you can get a great view of the surrounding scenery. It’s an amazing location from which to look out over the magnificent mountains that stretch on Sakudaira Plains. We especially recommend you come here around sunset.

A family-oriented ski resort that is very easily accessible via car

Expressway as seen under Mt. Fuji
Were we able to convey what makes Saku Ski Garden Parada such a great ski resort? Ski resorts you can access directly from the expressway are rare in Japan. This is the perfect ski resort for those who also want to go around various tourist destinations in Nagano Prefecture by car.

Almost all of the courses are quite flat with a gentle slope, meaning it’s a perfect place for beginners to brush up their skills. Head to Saku Ski Garden Parada this winter if you’re looking for a casual ski experience with the whole family.

Pricing information and schedule may not be up to date and are subject to change without notice. Please check before your trip.