As a Mountain State, Colorado is popular among hikers, climbers, and other outdoor lovers. There are many places to visit in this destination, from the Southern Rocky Mountains to the Colorado Plateau and the Great Plains. It is home to four national parks, namely, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde, and Rocky Mountain. With such attractions, it’s no wonder why the state was visited by more than 86 million people in 2019.

For lovers of culture and the arts, Colorado is teeming with museums, galleries, and creative districts. History buffs, meanwhile, can visit its historic railways and byways, ranches, mines, archaeological sites, and historic areas. Road trips are one way to explore Colorado, but if tourists want to be one with the Centennial State’s wonders, they should try its hiking trails and climbing routes.

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The small town of Ouray is perfect for such outdoor journeys. Nicknamed the ‘Little Switzerland of America,’ this destination serves as a basecamp for adventures. One must-try is the via Ferrata of Gold Mountain Ranch, as it offers a thrilling experience through stunning scenery. Combining adrenaline and majesty, this activity will give tourists outdoor moments like no other. Thrill-seekers looking for paradise can have their fill in Ouray as well.

What Is Via Ferrata?

Via Ferrata means “iron way” and it’s a route that acts as a “bridge” between climbing and scrambling. It started in the Alps in 1843 when a route in the Dachstein glacier in Austria was constructed complete with iron pins, hand hooks, carved footholds, and ropes. In 1869, a rope connected the summits of Grossglockner mountain and a few years later, fixed protection was constructed on the peak of Zugspitze. From then on, more routes were installed in the Alps.

Beyond Europe, Via Frratas also started to sprout in the United States, Japan, Peru, and other countries, especially those with established climbing destinations. In the US, some of the popular Via Ferratas can be found in Utah, Kentucky, West Virginia, Wyoming, California, Arizona, and, of course, Colorado.

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Plan The Visit

Gold Mountain Ranch is proud of its Via Ferrata experience as it combines adventure, history, and scenery. Thanks to the San Juan Mountains, a journey along this Ouray route is an experience that rocks, literally and figuratively.

  • The four-hour journey is composed of a guide and up to five guests.
  • The cost varies, from $178 to $398, depending on the number of tourists.

Safety gear is included: harness, helmet, gloves, and leash. Climbers, however, should be ready with their hiking boots/shoes, comfortable clothing, and a small pack for their items. They are also encouraged to bring at least two liters of water, aside from their eagerness to be out there, of course.

Experienced climbers and even first-timers need not worry because the guides are not just adept, but they are also knowledgeable about the local history. They are also certified wilderness first responders, so guests know they are in safe hands.

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The Route

The route was designed even for non-climbers yet thrilling enough to fill the cup of adventurers. The easy to intermediate Via Ferrata of Gold Mountain Ranch is a no-pressure activity as the guides encourage guests to just enjoy the journey, whatever their experience level.

This Ouray route is the longest of its kind in North America, giving guests nothing but an experience of a lifetime. The action happens on the Gold Mountain, and the route navigates a once-thriving mining tunnel. While traversing the course, the guides will share Ouray's mining history, all the while climbers are enjoying the mountain views. Weaving through the Memphis Mine State is like walking down memory lane.

Tourists will climb as high as 1,000 feet in elevation, with the views atop serving as a reward for all that arm and legwork. Being that high is the best way to take in all the beautiful landscape. Thanks to the footholds and handholds, facing the rockface and scaling the mountainside make for a satisfying climb. The journey will also take guests to a 250-foot-long suspension bridge that's 200 feet above the cliffs. Once there, the adrenaline rush will be overflowing. This activity is perfect for those who want to overcome obstacles and those who are ready to conquer their fear of heights.

The journey ends at a bar that overlooks the humble town and the towering peaks. It’s an enriching experience once climbers reach that spot where they can rest and just drink in all the sights and sounds of the surrounding paradise. Scaling down, tourists will be more energized knowing they have already conquered this challenging yet scenic route. Maybe, once in the jump-off point, they’ll book another trip. That’s how exciting this Ouray trip is.

The town has other via ferrata routes, but this one by Gold Mountain Ranch might be the most thrilling. Four hours of adventure is not enough, so a repeat is a must. That is, after climbers have conquered the other routes of Ouray.

How About A Side Trip?

Ouray is called the “Outdoor Recreation Capitol of Colorado,” and it offers lots of activities beyond the Via Ferrata. Tourists can visit the accessible Box Cañon Falls or hike the various trails in town. For a more challenging trip, there are many rock climbing destinations in the Four Corners area. During winter, tourists can also enjoy cross-country skiing and ice climbing. Whatever the season, there's the Wright Opera House or the sulfur-free hot springs of Ouray that welcome anyone. Ouray is indeed a destination of woah and wow.