Granite Pass Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

17.7 mi
DISTANCE
4,756 ft
GAINED
5 %
AVG. GRADE

8.8 FIETS
FULL CLIMB STATS

INTRO

One of the most rugged and distinctive beginnings to a Top 100 U.S. Climb. We begin the climb on Black Mountain Road just east of Shell, WY, and shortly enter a narrow and picturesque canyon that surrounds us for many miles into the climb.
The average grade is 5%.  41% of the climb is at 0-5% grade and 46% is at 5-10%.  The steepest quarter-mile is 11.5% and steepest mile 7.7%. 

See more details and tools regarding this climb's grade via the “Profile Tool” button.
Roadway:  This is a two lane state highway in good condition with narrow shoulder ranging from nonexistent in places to three feet.

Traffic:  Light.

Parking:  A couple hundred yards south from the start of the climb - MapStreet View
Provisions:  This is a fairly remote climb and there are no locations for water or food.  The closest food and beverages are in Greybull 20 miles west of the beginning of our climb (Map). 

Gear:  We finish the climb at 9,000', which is 4,500' above where we start -- be sure to consult the PJAMM "Full Forecast" feature for the time you expect to arrive at the finish to assess what clothing to bring on your ride.
Consider doing another Top US 100 while you are in the area - Alternate Route 14.  Also consider cycling Yellowstone - the eastern entrance is just 124 miles from the Granite Pass Start - See PJAMM's Yellowstone National Park (Map).   Finally, Beartooth Pass North is one of the most beautiful climbs in the US, and is just 120 miles away (Map).

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CLIMB SUMMARY

Cycling Granite Pass West (Highway 14), Wyoming - cyclist rides his bike on the roadway next to road sign for Granite Pass, Elevation 9033

Cycling Granite Pass, Wyoming: extraordinary rock and geologic formations on this bike climb.

Ride 17.7 miles gaining 5,240’ to 9,034 elevation at 5% average grade.

This is a climb in the Bighorn Mountains, which is an outlying mountain range separated from the rest of the Rocky Mountains by Bighorn Basin.

Cycling Granite Pass West (Highway 14), Wyoming - photo collage, views of rock formations along the roadway, dear crossing the road, yellow wildflower with rock formations behind it, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner

This one has one of the most rugged and distinctive beginnings to a Top 100 U.S. Climb.  We begin the climb on Black Mountain Road just east of Shell, Wyoming, and soon enter a narrow and picturesque canyon that borders our bike climb for many miles up the mountain.

Cycling Granite Pass West (Highway 14), Wyoming - start of climb looking toward a narrow canyon ahead, tall rock walls

Start of the climb -- narrow canyon ahead.

The entire climb is on State Route 14 (this is far less busy than Alternate Route 14).

The rock and geological formations along this route are superb (comparable to Mt. Lemmon, Arizona), including multi-colored interbedded mesas, hoodoos, and palisades.  This is a geologist’s (and cyclist’s) dream!  

Cycling Granite Pass West (Highway 14), Wyoming - photo collage, stretches of roadway surrounded by tall granite rock walls, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner

This climb into the Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming is #53 on the Top 100 U.S. climbs list, and is just 65 miles from #23 (Highway 14 Alt Route, Wyoming), and 137 miles from the start of #94 (Beartooth Pass, Montana).  The route follows Shell Creek (to our left as we climb) for the first two miles until we part company and climb through two giant switchbacks on up to the summit.  TripAdvisor reports give the area very high marks.

Cycling Granite Pass West (Highway 14), Wyoming - stretch of roadway looking toward granite hills

The climb is quite remote (93 Strava efforts over the route as of September 2020, which confirms our observation), but that is just another factor contributing to the unique nature of this adventurous climb.   Legs permitting, you may consider doing both Highway 14 Alternate Route and Granite Pass (which is on the actual [non-alternate?] Highway 14) the same day since their start points are only 64 miles apart.

Cycling Granite Pass West (Highway 14), Wyoming - two deer take a break from grazing in a field to stare at cameraman

Cycling Wyoming is a great way to experience a lot of wildlife.

Cycling Granite Pass West (Highway 14), Wyoming - cyclist riding on curved portion of two-lane roadway 

Final push to the top.

Steepest quarter mile begins at mile 6.8 (12.5%); steepest mile begins at mile 1.3 (7.6%).

Roadway Surface and Traffic Report:  The roadway is in excellent condition, but has no shoulder for most of its length.  However, we felt this to be a safe route with minimal traffic throughout..  

PJAMM Cycling contributor David Stauffer of Ithaca, New York wrote an excellent and very informative blog about his climbs in this area.  His description of Granite Pass West:

Starting steeply in a scenic canyon, you gradually climb out onto the open hills at higher elevation. There is a bathroom/parking lot at 10 miles that also has a drinking fountain. The top of the climb is somewhat shallower but grades are fairly consistent throughout. Quite a slog at 18 miles in length. As you leave the canyon the surrounding mountains tower above, providing the best views.

PJAMM contributor Edward Meyer of Norwich, Vermont provides an exceptional summary of this climb:  

Shell Canyon/Granite Pass offers cyclists a Bighorn Mountain climb on a lightly used and well paved road. The climb starts in a narrow canyon just after crossing over Shell Creek. Large cliffs of sedimentary rock tower over the narrow canyon and the grade starts at only a few percent. After 1 mile of climbing the canyon begins to open up and the climbing steadily steepens to an average of about 6% as you approach a pair of hairpin turns. On and above the hairpins you start to get a great overview of Shell Creek, which sits below in a narrow gorge that has cut into 2.8 Ga rocks that underlie the Big Horn Mountains. At three miles into the climb you will pass the parking lot for the Shell Bench mountain bike trail and a pit toilet. The climb continues up highway 14 as it winds around giant landslides. At 6.7 miles you encounter the Shell Falls visitor center. In the summer months there is potable water and flush toilet access and a short path down to Shell Falls. There are no formal water services above this point. Just after the visitor center, the highway crosses over Shell Creek again and continues to climb into a more open valley. A new truck runaway ramp sits to the climbers left. From here you climb to mile 11 where you encounter another set of sharp turns and Forest Service Road 17 which provides access to a pit toilet just off the highway (A few miles further down Forest Service Road 17 is access to a Forest  service campground and ranger station). Continue up highway 14. Grazing cows are common on the road so keep a heads up. You will pass the closed Antelope Butte ski area on your right at around 15 miles. From there it's a short climb to the top of Granite Pass.