Take a leap of faith… and try the best Via Ferrata in North America!

Rock climbing is a challenging sport taking years to master and a ton of effort to get good at it. But, what if you had basic climbing skills and wanted to experience the mountains for a fun weekend? That’s where Via Ferrata comes in! It’s a great way to get the adrenaline pumping by enjoying dramatic positions and accessing difficult peaks without the danger normally associated with it.

What is Via Ferrata?

best via ferrata in North America Canyon Sainte-Anne Quebec Canada

Via Ferrata at Canyon Sainte-Anne Image taken by: © Eric Dupuis

best via ferrata in North America Canyon Sainte-Anne Quebec Waterfall Climbing

Image courtesy: Projet Vertical

Italian for “Iron Road”, it’s a centuries old concept of a “protected” path deep in the mountains. Back in the 19th Century, these paths were used to access pastures too difficult to reach without any aid. It was then popularized during World War I in the Italian Dolomites to help troops move about the high alpine in very difficult weather conditions. Fast forward to today and it has become a popular way for inexperienced climbers to undertake dangerous routes normally reserved only for serious mountaineers. How? Well, first a steel cable is attached to the rock face running along the climbing route. Second, additional climbing aids are provided such as:

  • Iron rungs (stemples)
  • Pegs
  • Carved steps
  • Ladders
  • Bridges

With the steel cable attached and additional aids, a new route is born giving serious climbers a way to go solo while beginners get a taste of the mountains. So, where are the best Via Ferrata routes in North America?

The Best Via Ferrata Routes in North America

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

The Newest

best via ferrata in North America Jackson Hole Wyoming Summer Adventure

Completed in 2016 Jackson Hole is the newest one on the list! Image Courtesy: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Let’s be honest… Jackson Hole in the Northern Rockies is becoming the adrenaline junkie’s premiere U.S. destination. From some of the steepest continuous terrain in the winter to multiple National Parks, access to adventure is at your fingertips! When Jackson Hole opened the Via Ferrata adventure in 2016, they became the FIRST in U.S. history for a Via Ferrata to exist on Forest Service leased land. With eight routes installed and a 120 foot suspension bridge, it allows inexperienced adventurers to get a taste of what the Teton Mountain range offers for climbing. Before this, you’d need to train and build a decent skill set before attempting any of the region’s climbs. Going forward, you now have a place to experience mountaineering AND be safe.

 For more information: Jackson Hole Via Ferrata

Canyon Sainte-Anne, Quebec

Dangle over a waterfall 1/3 taller than the Niagara

best via ferrata in North America Canyon Sainte-Anne Quebec Waterfall Climbing

Image courtesy: Projet Vertical

When you think of a large North American waterfall, most people’s imagination drifts to the Niagara river’s rushing water. What if you could climb a steep rock face next to massive falls that size? Wouldn’t that be awesome? Only 5 minutes from the famed Mont Sainte Anne ski resort, you can do just that and more at Canyon Sainte-Anne in Quebec. The waterfall, located on the Sainte-Anne-du-Nord river, is nearly 1/3 higher than Niagara Falls. But, the amount of adventures available in the nearby region are even bigger! From zip-lining to a suspension bridge, there’s a lot to offer. The shining star on the list though is their Via Ferrata. With three routes available, you’ll get intimately acquainted with the sheer rock faces making this an awe-inspiring locale.

For more information: Canyon Sainte-Anne

Mt Nimbus, Alberta

Longest and Highest in North America

best via ferrata in North America CMH Canadian Mountain Holidays

Mt Nimbus via ferrata at CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures – Image taken by: Gary Unterasinger Courtesy: CMH Summer Adventures

best via ferrata in North America CMH Canadian Mountain Holidays

Conrad Glacier Adventure at CMH Bobbie Burns -Part hike & part via ferrata – Image taken by: Bruce Howatt Courtesy: CMH Summer Adventures

We’ve talked about heli-skiing and heli-biking before but what about heli-Via Ferrata? Deep in the Columbia Mountains, Canadian Mountain Holidays takes hiking to another level by offering heli-assisted Via Ferrata. Highlights include being nearly 3,000 feet up while crossing a 60m long suspension bridge dangling off the summit of Mount Nimbus! They then finish off the experience with a well-rewarded gourmet meal and glass of wine back at the Bobbie Burns Summer Lodge.

 

 

 

For more information: Canadian Mountain Holidays

Mount Norquay, Alberta

Views of Canadian Rockies

best via ferrata in North America Canada Mount Norquay Ski Big 3 Lake Louise Banff

Image taken by: AngeStar

The Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park are arguably some of the most majestic peaks in the world. Words cannot describe just how beautiful they are and the Via Ferrata at Mount Norquay is the best way to truly enjoy them. This region offers four routes on the cliffs above the slopes of Mount Norquay. The jewel of the options is the Summiteer. Over the six hour route, you’ll cross a 3-wire suspension bridge over an impressive chasm. It’ll get your heart pumping to say the least! Once you reach the top and take a look around, all that hard-work will be well worth it.

For more information: Banff Norquay

Telluride, Colorado

Box Canyon Views with a Main Event

best via ferrata in North America Telluride Colorado Box Canyon Southwest US

Image taken by: Brendan James

For locals, the Via Ferrata in Telluride is rightly named “Krogerata.” In honor of the local iron worker and avid climber who started work on it, Chuck Kroger sadly passed away of Pancreatic Cancer in 2007 but is forever memorialized in the region. Located thousands of feet above the famed boxed canyon, the views of town and the grandiose Bridal Veil Falls are down-right breathtaking. This one may not require a guide but we HIGHLY recommend it since some sections don’t have a cable. The trail may start out slowly, but once you arrive at the “Main Event”, it quickly becomes no joke. A section with 300 feet of metal ladder rungs bolted onto a sheer cliff face, it drops nearly 200+ feet below your feet. Even if you don’t have a fear of heights, it will definitely question your judgement.

There are multiple guides you can head out with:

Mount Ogden, Utah

An ode to a climbing legend

best via ferrata in North America Mt Ogden Via Ferrata Utah Snowbasin Salt Lake City

Photo Courtesy: Utah Adventure Center

Besides the amazing views, the story behind its creation is one that should always be told when speaking about it. The route was established by an Ogden native named Jeff Lowe. A mountain of a man, he completed over 1,000 first ascents, some of them solo, helping create each of the three routes back in 2004. It was around this time he found out he had ALS, causing his balance and coordination to deteriorate. When you step out onto one of his trails, you’ll appreciate the amount of detail he put into them from coming around a corner to see orange lichen to being “forced” to have a view of the Great Salt Lake. By the end, you’ll understand why people get into rock climbing. To access this amazing place, please note you must participate in a guided hike or climb with an authorized guide from the Utah Adventure Center.

Wondering why the list of Via Ferratas in North America is so light compared to Europe? Well, this is due to the liability exposure in the U.S. compared to other countries around the world. Fortunately, more U.S. Via Ferratas are being approved and installed at an accelerated pace due to the 2011 Ski Area Recreation Opportunity Enhancement Act. Happy and safe climbing!

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