Cycling Trail Ridge Road from Grand Lake (west)
Ride 21.7 miles gaining 3,720’ at 3% average grade.
Although this climb is a robust 21 miles, it is less than one-half the length of Trail Ridge East which at 44 miles is the second longest bike climb in the US and sixth longest in the world.
Because there are 2 ½ miles of flat/rollers past the finish of Trail Ridge West and the finish of Trail Ridge East, the finish for each are in different locations.
When to Climb Trail Ridge by Bike: This bike climb tops out above 12,000’ so it is best to do it between June and September. Trail Ridge Road does close during the winter:
“It is open to vehicle traffic roughly from Memorial Day weekend in May through Columbus Day in October. Temporary closings may occur in early June or late fall because of snow. Occasionally it opens earlier in May. Average close date is October 23 (latest close date Dec. 2, 1933) when the Park Service gives up fighting the snow and turns the road back to Mother Nature for the winter. During winter it is closed between Many Parks Curve and the Colorado River Trailhead. Call (970) 586-1222 anytime for the latest Park recording of the status of the road” (Rocky Mountain National Park).
Though we’d say that the best months to ride Trail Ridge are June to September, there are never any “guarantees” . . .
Left photo: Marloes Dekkers near Rainbow Curve Overlook ~10,875’ -- May 29, 2019
Right photo: Tiemen van Boxtel near Forest Canyon Overlook, ~11,716’ -- May 29, 2019
Both photos are from the eastern approach to the summit.
Bruce on his way up Mushroom Rocks to the summit . . .
2 ½ miles past the finish of Trail Ridge West.
Mission accomplished at 12,300’.
The road passes the Continental Divide at Milner Pass (mile 15.8 elevation 10,758’).
Continental Divide Top 100 US Bike Climbs:
Wolf Creek Pass (top photo) -- southwest Colorado (Pagosa Springs);
Independence Pass -- central Colorado (Aspen);
Cottonwood Pass -- central Colorado (Buena Vista).