Ouray Via Ferrata

The Ouray Via Ferrata has two separate routes in the famed Uncompahgre Gorge, directly across from the Ouray Ice Park. The first is the Downstream Route, which travels north along an engaging and varied traverse above the river and along the cliffs of the gorge. The second is the Upstream Route, which travels south and offers a more traditional climbing experience. Mountain Trip is pleased to be the only Telluride-based guide service permitted to offer trips on both the Ouray Via Ferrata and the Telluride Via Ferrata.

The Ouray Via Ferrata is open for the season! To make a reservation, please click below.

Open Ouray Downstream Via Ferrata Trip - Register Private Ouray Downstream Via Ferrata Trip - Register Private Ouray Upstream Via Ferrata Trip - Register

The Downstream Route

Utilizing both natural features and European-style amendments, including the 75-foot “Skybridge” (the first ladder-bridge of its kind in North America), climbers on the Ouray Via Ferrata spend essentially the entire route hanging from iron rungs while attached to a cable for protection, with movement constantly varying between vertical and horizontal terrain. The Ouray Via Ferrata now has two separate routes, and we most frequently guide the Downstream Route.

The route is directly across from the Ouray Ice Park, a world-class ice climbing attraction in the winter. The brainchild of passionate local climbers, the Ouray Via Ferrata was built in conjunction with savvy engineers and designers. Each element of the route has been meticulously tested and built to high international via ferrata standards, while also being fun and imaginative.

The Upstream Route

If you’re looking for an added challenge, the new Upstream Route of the Ouray Via Ferrata provides just that. It is a climbing-focused route, with fewer rungs and more natural rock features. Rock climbing experience or previous experience on the Downstream Route of the Ouray Via Ferrata is required for this trip. Check out the specifics by visiting the Ouray Via Ferrata website.

Ouray vs. Telluride

There are only a couple dozen different via ferrata routes across North America, and we’re lucky to host two of them in the beautiful San Juan Mountains. For those who have enjoyed the Telluride Via Ferrata, you’ll find the Ouray Via Ferrata to be a complimentary but quite different adventure. The Telluride route has tremendous exposure traversing along the base of Ajax Peak many hundreds of feet above the valley below, while the Ouray Via Ferrata follows the course of the Uncompahgre River through a deep gorge, sometimes only a couple of feet above the sluicing rapids. Most of the Telluride route is not cabled, making it feel like a mountaineering objective or high alpine hike with serious air off one side. The Ouray route is entirely cabled, and requires lots of climbing up and down rungs, with elements built into the experience such as wire bridges and ladders that provide plenty of butterflies to the stomachs of most mortals.

On the Fletcher/Smith Italian Via Ferrata Rating scale, the Ouray Via Ferrata is rated as 4b, which means the route can be technical and physically challenging. The upstream route is rated 4.5b, which is even more technical. The Telluride Via Ferrata is rated 2b, so it is not very technical, but it has much more intimidating exposure, while the Ouray Via Ferrata has more actual climbing on rungs. So… which is harder?  We’ll let you decide for yourself!

The route, in length, travels only approximately 0.8 miles along the canyon wall, but typically takes between 3-4 hours to complete, and perhaps longer for larger groups.

The Details

Managed by Friends of the Ouray Via Ferrata and owned by the town of Ouray, the route was made possible by donations. The route is managed daily by Via Ferrata Rangers, who help check people into the route, and ensure that everyone has the required gear and completes the route from south to north in one direction. Access is closed at the end of public daily hours.

Certain groups may require a greater climber-to-guide ratio to be compliant with the Ouray Via Ferrata. This route mandates the use of a climbing harness, climbing helmet, via ferrata-specific force-reducing lanyard attachment (provided by Mountain Trip), and appropriate footwear. We suggest that participants bring along a daypack to carry water and snacks to last you the duration of the trip, sunscreen, a rain jacket (just in case!), and a camera to capture special moments along the way.

Check out the Telluride Via Ferrata for another way to take in the splendor of San Juan high country from above!

Please Note:

  • Please let us know if anyone in your group has less than a 62-inch reach, or weighs under 90 pounds or over 265 pounds. As of May 6, 2023, route regulations mention that participants who fall within these specifications are required to go with a guide as they may need an additional belay for the vertical climbing sections of the route.
  • We ask that those with minors under 16 years of age book a private trip.
  • Open trips require at least two people to be signed up by the day before departure for the trip to run. In the case we don’t, you will have the opportunity to upgrade to a private trip should you still wish to attend. 
  • Participants must fit our rated equipment in order to participate on via ferrata trips. We use the Black Diamond Momentum Harness, which goes up to a 41-inch waist. If any individual does not fit the equipment we provide, they will not be able to attend. 

If you have questions, please contact the Mountain Trip office at [email protected] or (970) 369-1153.

Equipment List

The following is a list of guide-recommended gear for doing the Ouray Via Ferrata with Mountain Trip. In general, you’ll want a good selection of hiking layers appropriate for summer conditions in the San Juan Mountains. Whatever gear you choose, please make sure it fits well so you fully enjoy your experience in the mountains. The Ouray Via Ferrata is an amazing adventure, but it should be taken seriously as it is a true alpine endeavor.

We provide all of the necessary technical climbing equipment, including all helmets, harnesses, and via ferrata lanyards. We recommend that all climbers bring a daypack with water, snacks and sunscreen, as well as a rain jacket. Climbers are also welcome to bring and use their own gear upon inspection by one of our guides.

In addition to what we provide and have available to rent, there is also a good selection of gear available in Telluride and Ouray. If you have any specific questions about what you might need, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Mountain Trip office.

Print Equipment


GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Trekking Shoes or Boots for ColoradoComfortable, well broken in trekking shoes or lightweight boots will work for approaching climbs, the Telluride Via Ferrata or climbing 14ers. Good traction is important for all of the above. Contact our office for more detailed advice!

Torso Layers

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Rain Jacket for ColoradoA rain shell can be your most important layer as we often experience afternoon showers during the summer months in Colorado. It should be packable and in good working order meaning that, in addition to being waterproof, it still has a functional water repellent finish and beads water on the surface of the fabric.

Head and Hands

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
SunglassesSunglasses are essential in the mountains. Choose a pair that are comfortable and provide 100% UVA and UVB protection.
Via Ferrata GlovesA thin pair of gloves will help keep your hands warm as the steel rungs and cables can be cold in the morning. Good dexterity is important for these gloves. We are happy to provide you with gloves if you do not have any with you.

Packs and Duffels

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Small Pack Colorado Day HikesDay hikes and the Via Ferrata require a small backpack or Camelback style hydration pack. It need only be large enough for a camera, water and light additional clothing layers for the day.


GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Two (2) One-Liter Water BottlesYou will need two, 1-liter plastic water bottles. Please bring wide-mouth bottles, such as those from Nalgene, as these are much easier to fill than bottles with small openings.
CameraMost climbers these days use their phone as a camera, but if you plan to bring a dedicated camera, consider a small, light weight point and shoot camera. If you are a photography buff and really want to bring a DSLR, plan for that extra weight with your training!
Lip BalmBring a tube of quality lip balm with sun protection (SPF).
SunscreenThe sun can be intense in Colorado, so please apply high SPF sunscreen prior to your trip and bring a small tube along to reapply during the day.
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