Today we’ll be talking about one of the most photographed trails in Colorado. Giving you the complete Telluride Via Ferrata guide. Making sure you have all the tips you need to have a successful adventure out in the mountains. The route itself is free to anyone and open to the public 24 hours a day. Making for an incredible adventure for those looking to step outside of their comfort zone. Just as long as you have the right safety equipment. Below we’ll go over everything you need to know before you go.
Key Takeaways from the Telluride Via Ferrata Guide:
- The Telluride Via Ferrata is a highly popular and free adventure route located in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, attracting over 20,000 visitors annually.
- Essential safety gear includes a Via Ferrata harness, a Via Ferrata lanyard (Screamer), a climbing helmet, and proper footwear.
- Recommended gear includes appropriate clothing, sturdy hiking shoes, Gorilla Grip gloves, sunglasses, a small backpack, water bottle, and snacks.
- The route is one-way, starting on the right side and ending on the left side. There are exposed sections without cables.
- Guided tours are available for those without equipment, costing around $150 per person, but you can purchase gear for less.
- Parking options are available at the main area or up the Bridal Veil Falls road.
- Expect 2-3 hours on the course and an additional hour for hiking to the start and from the finish.
- There’s a bench (Kroger’s Bench) before the challenging sections, perfect for photos and refreshments.
- The Telluride Via Ferrata is not suitable for beginners and is best tackled by experienced climbers.
- Safety, proper gear, and adherence to guidelines are crucial for a safe and enjoyable experience.
A brief History of the Telluride Via Ferrata
Located in Telluride Colorado, the Via Ferrata or Kroger Via Ferrata was originally built by a local climber as a secret for him and his friends to enjoy. But like most secrets they have a way of getting out. Once it did, the route began to gain popularity amongst locals in the San Juan Mountains. Then the Telluride Via Ferrata was featured on the cover of a popular outdoor magazine featuring a young climber. And the boom began. Currently, an estimated 20,000+ people do the Telluride Via Ferrata each year.
Required Vis Ferrata Gear
- A Via Ferrata harness is specially designed for use on Via Ferrata routes. It typically has attachment points for your Via Ferrata lanyard and is comfortable for extended periods of wear. It’s crucial for safety as it allows you to secure yourself to the safety cables.
Via Ferrata Lanyard (Screamer):
- The Via Ferrata lanyard, often referred to as a “Screamer,” is a critical piece of equipment. It connects your harness to the safety cables along the route. The “Screamer” is designed to absorb energy in the event of a fall, reducing the impact on your body.
- A climbing or mountaineering helmet is essential to protect your head from falling rocks, debris, or accidental impacts. Safety should always be a top priority when climbing.
- Sturdy and supportive hiking or approach shoes are necessary. These should provide good traction, ankle support, and comfort for walking on uneven terrain. Avoid open-toed shoes or sandals.
Proper Hiking Clothing:
- Choose clothing appropriate for the weather conditions. In cooler weather, dress in layers to stay warm, and in hot weather, wear breathable fabrics. Consider moisture-wicking materials to keep sweat away from your body. Avoid cotton clothing, as it can become heavy and uncomfortable when wet.
- In addition to the required footwear, it’s a good idea to have a spare pair of comfortable shoes in your car for the approach and descent from the Via Ferrata route.
Gorilla Grip Gloves:
- These gloves can provide extra grip when holding onto the cables and provide protection for your hands. They can be particularly helpful in wet or cold conditions.
- Sunglasses with UV protection are essential, especially at higher elevations where the sun’s rays can be intense. They also protect your eyes from wind and debris.
- A small backpack can be used to carry your water, snacks, and any extra clothing layers. Look for one with comfortable shoulder straps and a secure closure.
- Staying hydrated is crucial when engaging in physical activities, especially in the mountains. Carry a reusable water bottle and take regular sips of water to avoid dehydration.
- Bring energy-rich snacks such as trail mix, energy bars, or dried fruit to keep your energy levels up during the climb.
Telluride Via Ferrata Guide & Tips – Colorado Hiking
- The route is one way, going east. Meaning you will start on the right side and end on the left side of the route.
- There are very exposed sections of the route that do not have cables (see video).
- The Telluride via ferrata is free and open to the public. You do need to have the right equipment including a harness and via ferrata screamer for safety.
- If you do not have equipment you can sign up for a tour. Typically costing around $150 per person (+tip). Note: You can buy the gear for less and use it in nearby Ouray Colorado which has two free via ferratas open to the public.
- For shoes, I recommend a good trail runner with a low stack height (less cushion). Something agile with good traction.
- Most people park in the general parking area at the bottom of the canyon. But you can drive up the Bridal Veil Falls road to the start.
- Parking at the main parking area will save you time once you are done. As the trail leads you straight down to it.
- There are two ways to hike to the start of the course from the main parking area. One is by taking the Bridal Veil Falls trail which is shorter and steeper. Or you can take the road which is longer but a lighter grade.
- Expect to spend 2-3 hours on the actual course. And another 1 hour or so hiking to the start and from the finish.
- On the route, there is a bench (Kroger’s Bench) right before you start the main sections of the course. This is a great place to grab some photos, food, and water before going through the hardest sections.
- Click here to check out the complete list of Via Ferratas in North America.
If this trail isn’t on your bucket list, then it should be! I’ve had a chance to do it twice now. And have every intention of going back and doing it again at some point. Hopefully if I can ever get into the HardRock 100 which takes place in the same area. Which would make the perfect excuse. If you find yourself anywhere in or near the San Juan Mountains then you should be adding this to your list. And while you are there make sure to do the two free via ferrata routes over in Ouray Colorado about 45 minutes away. Making for a great long weekend on fun in the mountains!
Telluride Via Ferrata FAQS
What is a Via Ferrata?
A Via Ferrata is a protected climbing route that includes fixed anchors, ladders, and cables to assist climbers as they traverse exposed terrain.
Where is the Telluride Via Ferrata located?
The Telluride Via Ferrata is located in Telluride, Colorado, USA, within the San Juan Mountains.
Is the Telluride Via Ferrata suitable for beginners?
No, it is not suitable for beginners. It’s recommended for experienced climbers or those with prior Via Ferrata experience due to its challenging nature.
Do I need special equipment to climb the Telluride Via Ferrata?
Yes, you’ll need a harness, helmet, and a Via Ferrata lanyard with two carabiners. It’s essential to have the proper gear for safety.
Are guided tours available for the Telluride Via Ferrata?
Yes, there are guided tours offered by experienced guides who can lead you through the route safely and provide equipment.
Is there an age limit for the Telluride Via Ferrata?
While there may not be a strict age limit, participants should be in good physical condition and capable of handling the demands of the route. It’s generally not recommended for children.
How long does it take to complete the Telluride Via Ferrata?
The time to complete the Via Ferrata varies depending on your skill level, but it usually takes around 2-3 hours to traverse the entire route.
Is there a fee to access the Telluride Via Ferrata?
As of my last update in September 2024, there was no fee for using the Telluride Via Ferrata. However, it’s a good idea to check for any updates or changes in fees before you go.
When is the best time to climb the Telluride Via Ferrata?
The best time to climb is during the summer months when the weather is more predictable and the route is less likely to be obstructed by snow.
Is it necessary to make reservations for the Telluride Via Ferrata?
Reservations may be required for guided tours, so it’s a good idea to check with local outfitters or guides for availability and booking information.
What should I wear when climbing the Telluride Via Ferrata?
Wear comfortable and weather-appropriate clothing, sturdy hiking boots, and bring layers as mountain weather can change rapidly.
Are there any safety tips I should be aware of before climbing the Telluride Via Ferrata?
Yes, it’s essential to follow safety guidelines, stay attached to the cables at all times, and pay attention to your guide or trail markers. Also, be aware of the weather, as storms can pose a significant danger on exposed terrain.
Here is a link to a complete via ferrata safety checklist.