This Colorado Mountain Town Has a Brand-new Suspension Bridge — Hanging 200 Feet Over Gorgeous Cliffs

An extreme activity for not-so-extreme people.

Hanging off the side of Gold Mt. Expedition Ferrata
Photo: Travis Perk

Traversing a cliff face hundreds of feet in the air is not how I expected my Wednesday to look. But when you get a last-minute offer to try out a brand-new, beginner-friendly climbing route in a town that's nicknamed the "Little Switzerland of America," you go. I even convinced my 70-year-old dad to join me.

We were on the new Gold Mountain Via Ferrata, Ouray, Colorado's second and newest via ferrata. A via ferrata (Italian for "iron path") is a fixed climbing route made up of metal rungs that provide the handholds and footholds to get you up sheer mountain faces with relative ease. Started in Europe, via ferratas are now in many U.S. mountain towns, allowing beginners with no climbing know-how (like me) to access the rugged rock faces typically only experienced climbers can scale.

It looks terrifying, but is practically foolproof. All you need is a little courage.

Climbing up the side of Gold Mt. Expedition Ferrata
Travis Perk

"It takes the willingness to put yourself into the unknown, it takes a desire to want to see what you're capable of," Logan Tyler, our guide and the owner of local guiding company Basecamp Ouray, told me. "It does not require a vast amount of physical fitness or climbing experience and that's what's cool about a via ferrata. It's inclusive that way."

The Gold Mountain Via Ferrata is particularly special because it scales one of the town's most iconic and historical mountains: Gold Mountain, named for the gold found within it during the town's mining heyday. The route dips in and out of mining sites — and even passes through a mining tunnel that cuts through the mountain — as you climb almost 1,000 feet in elevation. The cherry on top is the 4-inch wide, 250-foot-long suspension bridge that hovers 200 feet above the cliffs below.

The adrenaline rush is real.

Walking across a wire suspension bride on the Gold Mt. Expedition Ferrata
Travis Perk

"You're 200 feet off the ground, but because of the way you're over the cut, I would say it feels like you're 1,000 feet off the ground," Tyler said. It's a feeling I can confirm.

The Gold Mountain Via Ferrata is perhaps one of the few activities in the world that allows non-extreme people to do extreme things safely. A guide is with you every step of the way and you're always connected to a steel cable that runs along the route. And because this particular via ferrata is on private land, you don't have to worry about other climbers breathing down your neck. You have time to take in your surroundings (which, by the way, are out of this world), have a snack, and feel all the feels.

Climbing through a railway tunnel on Gold Mt. Expedition Ferrata
Travis Perk

The journey starts with an intention — what are you looking to get out of this? — and ends at a bar overlooking the town and surrounding 13,000- and 14,000-foot peaks. It's a totally rewarding, once-in-a-lifetime experience that is surprisingly accessible to anyone with a little courage and a reasonable level of fitness.

"We want to bring that adventurous spirit out in somebody, and through establishing trust and allowing them to be vulnerable, our hope is that people can have this experience that really is life-changing," Tyler said. "We want to develop something that is an inner journey as much as it is an outer journey. The course itself is the classroom."

Climbing up the Gold Mt. Expedition Ferrata
Travis Perk

The journey is exclusively available through Basecamp Ouray. The $178 per person rate includes all safety gear (harness, leash, helmet, gloves) and a local professional guide who will lead you and four others up one of the most stunning via ferrata routes in the country.

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