Some people call this show-stopping section of vertiginous rock cliffs on Forest Service land the Iron Way, but area romanticists use the Italian name. If you can’t stand staying in the foothills when Telluride’s mountains beckon, the two-mile horizontal traverse known as Via Ferrata is a must-see—though inexperienced climbers should hire a local guide (at one point, you'll find yourself climbing iron ladders 500 feet up the volcanic rock). Still, it’s worth the effort for the thrill of seeing area icons—such as Bridal Veil Falls and the box canyon—the way the local sparrows do.
By Kathryn O'Shea-Evans, AFAR Local Expert
A Summer Place
Telluride’s mountains are the source of its soul, offering solace to those wanting to explore. Meandering trails beckon hikers into high-mountain valleys speckled with wildflowers, alpine lakes, and camps and ruins from 19th-century mining booms—reminders of the hardy spirit of the valley’s European pioneers. Single-track downhill trails tempt cyclists, while endless mountain passes dare Jeepers. The Via Ferrata (or Iron Way) traverses sheer rock cliffs, allowing climbers to hang 1,000 feet above the valley floor. Below, the San Miguel River playfully cajoles fly fishermen, boaters, and SUP—that is stand up paddleboarding—enthusiasts into its waters. All trails end in town or the Mountain Village, near a cold beer.