Cycling Polychrome Pass, Denali National Park
Ride 3.1 miles gaining 661’ at 3.7% average grade.
Climb summary by PJAMM ambassador Bryant Robbins, Palmer, AK.
This climb is less notable for it’s grade and height than for the spectacular scenery it provides inside Denali National Park. Even if Denali isn’t visible, the scenery on this ride will not disappoint. It is best combined with other climbs to the east (Sable Pass) and/or west (Highway Pass) to make a nice long ride with plenty of climbing.
The Denali park road is 89 miles long. It turns gravel at Savage River, Mile 15, and private vehicles are restricted beyond this point. There are three ways to access the climbs beyond there: ride your bike from Savage River (or the beginning of the road), take a bus, or book a campsite at Teklanika River Campground, mile 29. A reservation allows you to drive to the campground which serves as the beginning of the Sable Pass climb. From there it is possible to continue on to Polychrome Pass, mile 46, and Highway Pass, mile 58. The park service biking information page can be found here - https://www.nps.gov/dena/planyourvisit/cycling.htm
The ride is on a good gravel surface and is very scenic. We saw caribou, moose and a grizzly bear. Bring bear spray and be prepared for cold weather any time of year. Spring and early summer offer the best chance for Denali views.
Note: as of mid 2021 the road west of mile 43, at Polychrome Pass, is closed to nonessential travel due to a landslide and is expected to remain closed in 2022.