As an Alpine skiing region the Gastein Valley attracts guests by the variety of slopes, dozens of kilometers of groomed trailes, and the developed network of lifts. But this area is also known for its thermal springs, where water with high radon concentration has the temperature over 34o C. The originality of local winter resorts consists in a chance to combine sport with health-improving procedures of radon bathes.
Bad Hofgastein (6000 inhabitants) and Bad Gastein (5800 inhabitants) are two major villages. There is a village at the entrance to the valley called Dorfgastein. From the nearest peaks of Fulseck (2033 m) and Kreuzkogel (2027 m) one can come down to Gastein and to the adjoining Grosarl Valley. One of the local trails (from Brandalmlift, 300 m, elevation change 131 m) is lightened on Wednesdays till 21.30.
The main skiing areas are Bad Hofgastein – Kitzstein, Schlossalm - Hoe Scharte, where slopes are mostly easy and intermediate. Over the northern side one may get back from Hoe Scharte to the valley (about 8 km). This area is connected with numerous slopes on Stubnerkogel Mountain (2246m), the closest to Bad Hofgastein, by the network of lifts and trails. The longest trail of the region leads from the Stubnerkogel peak to Angertal (Angertalabfahrt, 800m, elevation change 1136 m).
Graukogel is another skiing area near Bad Hofgastein. Here the virgin slope (#6) changing into downhill trail FIS (4400m, elevation change 650 m) is especially difficult. But there are other not so difficult trails on the mountainsides.
Sportgastein area with skiing zone at the elevation of 1585-2686 m starts at a distance of 10 km from Bad Hofgastein. The snow cover here is especially safe. Lift line goes to the very peak of Kreuzkogel mountain (2686 m). The groomed trails are not very difficult except for one hummocky area. Those who love chaste land enjoy downhilling over the northern side (Nordabfahrt, 8000 m, elevation change 1400 m).
The Gastein Valley is especially attractive for cross country skiers: the length of groomed trails here is measured by dozens of kilometers. Special control points have been created to entertain tourists. Here they can fix the distance they cover: those who have covered 75 km are awarded with bronze pin, and after 1000 km you can expect a gold one.
Bad Hofgastein and Bad Gastein are fashionable resorts attracting guests by the variety of sport and entertainment opportunities. People are offered to visit thermal bathes (including healing gallery in Böckstein at the valley exit) and pools, dog and horse sled rides, tennis courts and bowling, fashion shows, rock-n-roll parties, casinos and concerts.
Gastein valley resorts were popular among Austrian notables already at the turn of XIX-XX centuries. Mountain villages preserved buildings with several levels, which is not typical for Alpine resorts, beautiful villas, for instance Haus Meran built in Bad Hofgastein by Archduke Ferdinand. Thermal complex at the center of the village is connected by underground passages with several hotels. There is a beautiful waterfall in the center of Bad Hofgastein, its melodious murmur can be heard in many of the hotels. The whole valley is supplied by the thermal water of this resort.