The Top 9 Via Ferratas in the United States

Martin Kuprianowicz | ClimbingClimbing
Via ferratas are an excellent way for inexperienced climbers to get into mountaineering. | Photo courtesy of Maja Kochanowska/Unsplash

Interested in rock climbing, but not the technical commitment? We may have something here for you.

Meaning “iron path” in Italian, a Via Ferrata is a protected style of rock climbing that makes mountaineering approachable for beginners. First used by military troops to safely traverse and transport materials through the Dolomites during World War I, via ferratas are sturdy iron rungs, ladders, or cables anchored into rock faces used to simplify mountaineering. For those without previous climbing experience, via ferratas could the perfect way to try out mountaineering.

Here are nine of the top via ferratas in the United States:

Mammoth Mountain ski area has via ferrata routes for all ski levels. | Photo courtesy of Peter Morning/Courtesy Mammoth Mountain

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area’s via ferrata has one difficult, two moderate, and three easy routes that ascend 180 feet and span 100 yards across the cliff face below Caldera Overlook.

A guest climbs the via ferrata at Royal Gorge Bridge & Park in Colorado. | Photo courtesy of Royal Gorge Bridge & Park/Facebook

Positioned next to the highest suspension bridge in the country, these via ferrata routes climb between 200 and 500 feet and range from beginner to advanced. 

Guests traverse a via ferrata under a waterfall in Kentucky with Southeast Mountain Guides. | Photo courtesy of Southeast Mountain Guides/Pinterest

This via ferrata traverses three-fourths of a mile along the sandstone cliffs of Kentucky’s Red River Gorge. It is one of the few via ferratas in the eastern U.S.

Alpenglow operates this via ferrata route on the ‘Tram Face’ at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows. | Photo courtesy of Alpenglow Expeditions/Tahoe Via Ferrata

The Lake Tahoe Via Ferrata at Squaw Valley Ski Resort is owned and operated by mountain guiding company Alpenglow Expeditions. There are four routes of ranging difficulty which all traverse 800 feet up Squaw’s classic ‘Tram Face.’

Photo courtesy of Taos Ski Valley

Taos’ via ferrata includes beginner, intermediate, and advanced routes at 11,500 feet on the infamous Kachina Peak. The Taos via ferrata wields a 100-foot sky bridge suspended 50 feet in the air and a 30-foot double cable catwalk.

Photo courtesy of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort/Facebook

Jackson Hole’s scenic via ferrata includes six protected climbing routes across a 120-foot suspension bridge through the ski resort’s alpine terrain. There are routes ranging from beginner to advanced, with the longest route covering more than 500 vertical feet.

Photo courtesy of Kent Mountain Adventure Center/Facebook

Located in Estes Park, Colorado, this via ferrata climbs a 600-foot-tall cliff and ends stellar summit views of neighboring Rocky Mountain National Park.

Photo courtesy of Amangiri/Pinterest

Amangiri, meaning “peaceful mountain,” is a desert hideaway in southern Utah with 600 acres of amenities and activities. There are seven guided via ferrata routes available exclusively to the resort’s guests each rising approximately 400 feet through red rock desert with views of nearby Lake Powell, Navajo Mountain, and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

A wild mountain goat greets a guest on Arapahoe Basin Ski Area’s via ferrata. | Photo courtesy of Arapahoe Basin Ski Area/Facebook

This via ferrata at Colorado’s Arapahoe Basin Ski Area is the highest in North America, topping out at about 13,000-feet in elevation. It’s located above tree-line and includes multiple routes led by the ski area’s experienced guides.


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