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America’s Top Via Ferrata Adventures

What is a Via Ferrata?

If you’re into outdoorsy activities that blend the thrill of scrambling and rock climbing, you’ve gotta try via ferrata. Picture this: metal rails bolted into the mountain, providing a safety line as you traverse ridges or climb peaks. It’s like climbing with training wheels, offering more protection than scrambling but less gear and rope than rock climbing.

While via ferratas have been a hit in Europe for decades, they’re relatively new to North America. Originally built for troop transport in Italy’s Dolomite mountains, they’re now popping up in U.S. mountain towns, offering a summer alternative on winter sports mountains. The main difference between the via ferratas you’ll find in Europe and the ones in the U.S., the U.S. climbs typically require a trained guide for safety.

Via ferratas are a fantastic way to explore new terrains without needing advanced climbing skills. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned climber, the experience is guaranteed to leave you exhilarated. So, if you stumble upon a via ferrata during your travels, don’t hesitate to give it a shot. Trust me, you’ll be hooked on this thrilling adventure!

There are only about a handful of via ferratas across the United States, and below I’m going to share with you all of the vias that I know about so you can add them to your adventure bucket list!

Via Ferratas in California

Mammoth Mountain Via

Choose from six different routes, each offering a progressive level of difficulty, making it the ideal alpine activity for families and thrill-seekers alike. Located on Mammoth Mountain below the Caldera Overlook near McCoy Station, the Mammoth Mountain Via Ferrata adventure starts with a 3-hour private tour or a 90-minute group tour at the Adventure Center. After a quick orientation, hop on the Panorama Gondola to McCoy Station and embark on a short hike to the Via Ferrata base. From there, your expert guide will help you select the best climbing route based on your comfort and ability level. With options ranging from easy to difficult, including suspension bridges and breathtaking views, this is an experience you won’t want to miss!

AlpenGlow - Tahoe, CA

Welcome to Tahoe Via Ferrata, where climbing meets accessibility in the stunning Lake Tahoe region! This assisted climbing activity transforms rugged terrain into an exhilarating course, equipped with ladder rungs, steel steps, and suspension bridges. Each route features a steel cable anchored into the rock, ensuring participants are securely connected throughout the adventure.

Whether you’re a novice or seasoned climber, there’s a tour for you! Opt for a 2-hour, 3-hour, or 4-hour excursion, with routes like “The Great Escape” or “The Loophole” catering to different comfort levels. Join a private group or an open-enrollment tour and let us create the perfect climbing experience for you.

Operated by Alpenglow Expeditions, a leading mountain guiding service founded by Adrian Ballinger in 2004, Tahoe Via Ferrata promises unforgettable adventures. 

Via Ferratas in Colorado

Ouray

Ouray, a tiny mountain town, now boasts not one, but two epic via ferratas! The Ouray Ferrata is open to the public and guided tours, offering a thrilling adventure that can last anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, depending on your group’s pace. While most of the route involves traversing, recent extensions have added more vertical sections for an extra dose of excitement! But wait, there’s more—in spring 2022 Ouray opened the Gold Mountain Expedition Via, accessible exclusively through guided trips from Basecamp Ouray. Talk about adding some serious thrill to your Colorado getaway!

Telluride Via Ferrata — Telluride, CO

Looking to tackle Telluride’s Via Ferrata? Strap in for an adventure that blends exposed hiking with technical climbing challenges. While it may seem like a walk in the park, this route demands serious skills and gear. Safety is paramount, so be sure to review our recommended gear and safety tips before venturing out. To enhance your experience and ensure safety, consider hiring a local guide.

Located on the south-facing wall below Ajax Peak, Telluride’s Via Ferrata offers two access points: lower and upper. Plan your approach carefully, as the journey from the bottom parking area to the trailheads can span up to 1.75 miles. Spring, summer, and fall are prime seasons for the Via Ferrata, but keep an eye on the weather forecast—rain and snow can pose risks. Exercise caution during spring when snow remains above the route, and be mindful of avalanche danger. Developed by climber Chuck Kroger, Telluride’s Via Ferrata features uncabled sections that add technical mountaineering challenges. From harnesses to carabiners, ensure you’re equipped and knowledgeable before embarking on this thrilling journey. 

Via Ferratas in Utah

Above Zion Via Ferrata — Zion National Park, UT

Dive into nature’s beauty with a breathtaking hike through steep wooded trails and flowing-water canyons. This unique experience includes two via ferrata climbs, starting with a practice wall where you’ll master your safety equipment.

Guided by entertaining and knowledgeable experts, you’ll begin your journey on a 75′ practice wall, perfecting your gear operation. Then, hike through the picturesque ponderosa pine forest to the rim of Eye of the Needle™. Experience the thrill of a 75′ rim-drop followed by scaling the canyon walls, all while soaking in unparalleled views of the waterfall and Oak Creek Canyon.

Located just outside Zion National Park, this remote area offers awe-inspiring landscapes. Gear up at one of our remote cabins after a scenic transport, then embark on a 5-6 hour adventure. From practicing on the via ferrata routes to descending to Eye of the Needle™, every moment promises excitement and wonder.

Via Ferratas in West Virginia

Rocks - Circleville, West Virginia

Built in 2002, the NROCKS Via Ferrata was only the second of its kind in the U.S. and still stands as one of three on the East Coast. Stu, the original owner, had a vision of creating a climbing paradise when he bought the property in 1997. After discovering the wonders of Via Ferratas in 2001, he decided to build one himself. With the help of his climbing buddies and some specialized tools, they crafted a route that takes you hundreds of feet up over half a mile of thrilling climbing. And get this—it only took them six months! 

Via Ferratas in Wyoming

Jackson Hole Via Ferrata — Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, WY

Embark on the ultimate summer thrill with Jackson Hole’s Via Ferrata! Their expert guides will lead you on a private high alpine journey, navigating suspended bridges and granite walls. With 15 unique routes, this world-class climbing area offers breathtaking views for adventurers of all levels. Experience the Alps-inspired adventure firsthand as you ascend iron rungs, ladders, and bridges, securely fastened to cables along the rocks.

The Jackson Hole Via Ferrata boasts a series of routes featuring cables anchored to the rock, ensuring your safety throughout the climb. Equipped with specialty lanyards and carbineers, climbers are securely fastened to the cables, allowing for a thrilling yet safe experience. Paired with experienced guides, guests can explore the routes while receiving expert guidance and assistance in terrain selection. Get ready to elevate your summer adventure in the heart of the Tetons!

Via Ferratas in New Mexico

Taos Via Ferrata — Taos Ski Valley, NM

Get ready to take your mountain climbing game to new heights at the TAOS Ski Valley Via Ferrata. No experience? No problem! With harnesses and helmets provided, our expert guide will lead you through an epic network of cables and iron bars, all while soaking in breathtaking views from 11,500 feet up on Kachina Peak.

But wait, there’s more! Their guided tour offers routes for every skill level, from beginner to advanced, including a thrilling 100-foot skybridge and a double-cable catwalk. Plus, this summer, we’re kicking things up a notch with an adrenaline-pumping UTV ride to the start of our Via Ferrata course. It’s time to conquer the heights and make memories that’ll last a lifetime!

Via Ferratas in Kentucky

Southeast Mountain Guides Via Ferrata — Red River Gorge, KY

Get ready for an adventure like no other at the Red River Gorge Via Ferrata in Kentucky, the ultimate playground for adrenaline junkies. What sets this course apart? It’s unguided, giving you the freedom to conquer the rugged terrain at your own pace. Plus, it’s not every day you find yourself climbing on all fours through jaw-dropping rock formations and behind cascading waterfalls!

Here’s the lowdown: Upon arrival, you’ll dive into a 45-minute orientation to get you prepped and pumped. Then, it’s all systems go as you take on the course solo, exploring its various sections of varying difficulty. While some daredevils power through in one go, most opt for a leisurely climb, making use of the multiple exit points and observation decks along the way. With the option to climb until dusk, you’re in for a solid 4-5 hours of heart-pounding fun!

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