Page Contributor(s): Bruce Hamilton/Stacy Topping
Cycling East Portal
Ride 3.3 miles gaining 2,001’ (0 descent) at 11.4% average grade.
Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park, Colorado -- Established 1999, 30,750 acres.
Climb summary by PJAMM’s John Johnson.
This one is a bit of an outlier, but well worth the drive to get to Black Canyon! The climb itself is brief, but similar to Mt. Ascutney in Vermont, gives you as much pop in three miles as you will get on any of the Top U.S. 100 Climbs. The Colorado climb is incredibly steep and gives you spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and vegetation.
We start the climb at the bottom of an extremely steep canyon along the Gunnison River.
On a climb this steep there are bound to be hairpins, and this one does not disappoint with 13 compressed into this 3.2 mile monster.
The views are spectacular and the climb quite challenging (on the ascent, however, you’ll have your back to the views and likely have your head down and grinding it out!). The National Park Service describes the area "Deep, Steep and Narrow: Big enough to be overwhelming, still intimate enough to feel the pulse of time, Black Canyon of the Gunnison exposes you to some of the steepest cliffs, oldest and craggy spires in North America. With two million years to work, the Gunnison River, along with the forces of weathering, has sculpted this vertical wilderness of rock, water, and sky."
View from the top.
Steepest quarter mile (well, it’s ALL steep!) begins at mile 1.1 (16.6%) and mile at 0.4 (13.7%).
Consider camping at the East Portal Campground, which looked like a great place to camp and gets high ratings on Yelp. Since you are travelling to one of the more remote of the Top 100 climbs, making a day or weekend of it in this amazing National Park and canyon area is worth the while.
Roadway Surface and Traffic Report: Roadway is in excellent shape and there is minima and slow moving traffic on the way up.
You will get a very good sense of the climb and surroundings by viewing our YouTube videos here and here.
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