One June weekend my husband and I ventured for a repeat visit to the spectacular Royal Gorge area of Colorado. We left the kids at home for this trip, opening a window for a couple of adventurous activities that we may not have been able to fully take advantage of otherwise. We embrace vacations and getaways with our kids. Those trips are when we get to know them best and push everyone’s limits. But we made an exception for this trip. And, it allowed us to white water raft as well as scale the walls of the Via Ferrata Royal Gorge.
What is Via Ferrata?
You may have an idea of what Via Ferrata is. But as my first impression was that it is extreme rock climbing. Let me tell you differently. Via Ferratas are climbing routes that are secured into the side of a cliff. They originated in World War I to assist soldiers without much climbing experience to more safely move through the mountains. These were first found in Italy and Austria.
In fact, the Italian “via ferrata” translates to “iron way”.
Steel rungs and cables are secured into the cliff so that climbers can secure themselves with a harness and and two carabiners. This allows a climber to always be secured to the steel cable preventing dangerous falls. The idea of scaling a steep cliff was frightening to me. But once I got out there I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and wanted more. Never did I not feel safe. It was exhilarating to stand at the top of the Royal Gorge and look back down the cliff that I had just climbed up.
In mid-life, I am no longer at the peak of my fitness and this had me concerned. Most of the Via Ferrratas in Colorado have routes with different levels and experienced guides leading the way. We took one of the easier routes. And, next time, I’d definitely be up for moving up in route difficulty.
I did actually Google “Is Via Ferrata is safe?”. When you have a certified guide and you follow the rules, it is. The biggest risk may actually be loosing your phone as you pull it out to take photos.
Via Ferrata Royal Gorge
With 1,000 foot cliffs up two sides of a spectacular gorge with a bridge connecting the two sides, the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park is the ideal location for a Via Ferrata.
Insider Tip: Royal Gorge and Canon City Colorado are well worth a long weekend trip. It is beautiful and there are plenty of other adventures to enjoy in the region.
Guests must be at least 10 years old to take this tour. The tour includes all of your equipment as well as a certified guide. Equipment not only includes your harness and helmet, but also sticky shoes. Don’t pass these up. They truly help your feet grab the sides of the cliff.
When you book a Via Feratta tour at Royal Gorge, your ticket tour does include admission to the Royal Gorge Park and Bridge both the day of your tour and the following day if you would like to return. The park itself is well worth exploring. There’s plenty to see and do.
There’s the Revelation Tour of approximately 3 hours or the Royal Tour of approximately 5 hours. I can’t imagine climbing for 5 hours. But again, I’m not at my peak fitness level.
You will be asked prior to stepping onto the course if you have any recent surgeries or medical conditions that could be of concern. Your guide will suggest that you pull them aside, if so, and will stick close.
Royal Gorge Via Ferrata is only accessible with a guide. You wouldn’t want to go without a guide as a non-experienced rock climber. But the guide combined with the system itself is what makes the experience safe.
Have you climbed a via ferrata? What did you think? Would you do it again? Tell us in the comments below!
This was certainly a bucket list experience for me. I would do it again in a heartbeat, and take on a more difficult course. The experience was both challenging and rewarding.