Iwappara Ski Resort is a popular choice with beginners and families for its wide, open runs and the abundance of accommodation on the slopes. It is right in front of you as you come out of the long tunnel on the Kanetsu Expressway and is always a big strip of inviting white to winter visitors.
It is by no means the biggest resort in the area and budget cuts in the last few years have seen a few lifts taken out of operation, but the four or five lifts that are still running offer plenty to explore for a day on the slopes. The main run is a wide, gentle slope that most people love. For the more experienced there is a steep run down from the top which is great on a powder day or dotted with challenging moguls at other times. From the top of the highest lift, as well as enjoying the stunning view of the valley and surrounding mountains, you can see over to Maiko Resort a few hundred meters away. A lift linking the two seems like a natural choice and would make for a great area but unfortunately the ground between the two is owned by a third resort and they are not going to allow any such merger to take place which is a shame.
Iwappara is under the same ownership as Joetsu Kokusai so they often run similar promotions. Both resort target families and Iwappara has some great facilities for kids. There is a dedicated Kids’ Zone, one of the longest sledding runs in the area and they also have a little slalom course set up for any budding racers.
Unlike many resorts in the area Iwappara has plenty of accommodation on the slopes with hotels in several different areas. There are also plenty of hotels and lodges down in the town (which has its own station - Iwappara Skijo Mae.) The hotels on the slopes have to get customers from one side of the resort where the car parks are located to their lodgings, which means using motorized wheelbarrows to cart the luggage around - quite a bizarre sight.
There are loads of restaurants on the slopes including one that is pretty famous. Pittore is an Italian restaurant that is a local institution. Amazing food in a stylish restaurant - the perfect place to sit out some bad weather with a pizza from the wood-fired stove and a bottle of wine.