What is a Via Fajita, you may ask. Well, even though I just made tacos and fajitas sound like a good lunch option for today, the correct term is Via Ferrata, or Ferrata for short. This new, exciting, and growing in popularity activity, is not as new as you think. It’s been around since the World Wars in Europe. Soldiers use to harness into a steel wire on mountain edges up high to traverse across and over their enemies to get into the enemy territory, whether it be couple stories above or hundreds to thousand feet about, depending on location. Pretty cool, huh. Now that we got a little history lesson and expectations out of the way, let’s dive a bit more into what it is and where to find them here in this great state of Colorado.
I mentioned about a general idea of what a Ferrata is but if you would allow me to, let me paint a better picture for you from my own experience and explain why it’s one of my favorite things to do in Colorado. While traversing, you can find yourself on a small path as wide as your shoulders or as narrow as your foot on the mountain side. You may just find yourself cliffhanging, with holdings onto the rebar that’s planted into the mountain side, all while enjoying the views around you. A via ferrata can go in any general location depending how it’s built. Note: make sure to find out before heading out on one which direction people are traveling on it, you want to move in the same direction others are to avoid being stuck on a cliffhanger portion with traffic going both ways. So general rule of thumb, move in the direction traffic is moving, whether that be left to right or right to left. Most are going to be right to left.
Preparing for Your Colorado Via Ferrata Trip
As I prep for one, I make sure my harness is good to go and my helmet is packed. I typically bring a small fanny pack so it doesn’t get in the way of my mobility and upper body. You may want to consider using chalk or even gloves if your hands aren’t calloused yet. Don’t forget the water!!! A water bottle or small camel pack to fit in a fanny pack would be great. Don’t forget to dress accordingly as well. In Colorado, you can find yourself in a 40-50 degree swing within the day easily depending the time of year. With that, research which one would be good for you based on difficulty and skill level.
The Most Popular Colorado Via Ferrata Courses
So whether you want to ferrata above a river or creek like Ouray, or do some cliffsides like the ones in Buena Vista and Idaho Springs, or the highest one in elevation in North America like A-Basin, to one where you can find Colorado’s biggest waterfall behind you in the distance in Telluride, there’s one for everyone. If you’ve never done one before I would suggest going with a guided tour like the one in Buena Vista, right near the famous Arkansas River for rafting, kayaking, or fishing, or Idaho Springs which is only 30 minutes from Denver and near the famous 14’er Mount Evans. AVA Rafting and Zipline can provide these for you and have some of the best experienced guides in the country to help and teach you along the way, to eventually start tackling them on your own. Another one close to Denver would be Lawson Park.
Lesser Known Colorado Via Ferrata Courses
Lets dive into the other 6 other, as of now, different Ferrata courses available to you, some guided, some solo.
The next closest Ferrata to the Range would be Cave of the Winds in Manitou Springs. This one can offer you gorgeous views of Pikes peak and surrounding mountain range. The town itself is a very lovely intimate town with many events. So you can make a weekend trip out of this one and still be close to home if living or staying around the Range area.
In Canyon City you can find the Royal Gorge Ferrata. This location is right next to the famous America’s Bridge. This one you will be traversing right about the river and under the bridge and is a guided tour as well.
For all the altitude junkies, definitely check out A-Basin. This one is currently the highest in North America and is guided as well and sits right by the Eisenhower tunnel near Loveland Pass.
If low altitude might be your tee for that day, other than Idaho Springs and Buena Vista which are more medium altitude range, you can check out Ouray’s Ferrata. This one consists of a narrow rock ledge above the Uncompahgre Gorge and is also known as the Switzerland of America. This may be more challenging for the greenies as the rock ledges are narrow and many parts of the course are at a negative angle, but boy is it physically fun and challenging.
Estes Park also has one, this location would be closest to the Eastern side of the Rocky Mountain National Park. This one is guided as well. Estes Park Ferrata will give you the views you are looking for and the adrenaline of being hundreds of feet off the ground.
Then there’s the beautiful Western Colorado. These locations are more away from civilization and you can find lovely little ranch towns all around you. At this location you can find 3 different ones all within an hour from each other. First, in Ouray you can find 2, the one we discussed that has great negatives and is over the Gorge, then there is the Basecamp at the Gold Mountain Ranch. This one will have a higher altitude, unlike its older sibling, is guided, and has some tight rope bridges involved as well. This just opened in May so I’m excited to get after this one real soon.
Unguided Colorado Via Ferrata
I always save the best for last, of course it’s all perspective, that’s the beautiful thing about Ferratas, not one is the same as the other. Each offers its own challenges, views, and beauty. This one may be one of the more challenging ones because of what it offers. Close to Ouray and nestled into the corner of some of the most gorgeous peaks, in a bowl, you will find a town by the name of Telluride. Well known but also still a secret gem, shhhh. It’s not traveled to as much because of its location and distance away from everything. But, there you will find Colorado’s biggest waterfall, most intimate mountain town I’ve come across, and just great people. Just look at the picture below I was able to catch. This one is not guided so please do be careful. I suggest going with someone experienced if you can. This one will give you pretty much a little of everything the other ones offer. So, whatever your difficulty level is or what physical condition you may be in, there may be one for you. I hope this has helped and I hope I get to share some more with you soon.
About the Author
PJ is a contributing member of our Sales & Marketing team.
He enjoys exploring Colorado and the surrounding wildlands
trying via ferrata courses and lounging in his RV with his pup.