Montezuma Borrego Highway Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

Montezuma Borrego Highway


Remote, but worth the trip!

Page Contributor(s): Larry and Carolyn Rose, Truckee, CA, USA

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Climb Summary

Cycling Montezuma Borrego Highway: Highway S22, San Diego County, CA

Ride 10.8 miles gaining 3,496’ to elevation 4,216’ at 6.1% average grade.

Ahhhhhhh, this one is the third most difficult bike climb in San Diego County!  Montezuma Borrego Highway is worth the trip and is an exceptional climb.  



This is a poor man's Mt. Lemmon -- it has some very nice rock formations and distant, spectacular views of the Anza Borrego Desert and the stark San Jacinto Mountains just beyond.


Cycle past interesting rock formations throughout the climb.


For the ambitious cyclists, Montezuma Highway can be done in conjunction with Palomar Mt. East (the starting points of each climb are only 33 miles apart).

The climb begins in
Borrego Springs, CA which is a bit of a trek from San Diego (90 miles) but well worth the trip.  There is decent lodging in the area and great desert activities to choose from (hikes, birding, stargazing, cycling, etc.)  

Bruce with Anza Borrego Desert in the background.

The descent into Borrego Springs is known as the glass elevator due to the expanding desert panoramas as you descend, as if you were in a glass elevator.

Roadway Surface and Traffic Report:  The roadway surface is excellent and traffic mild to moderate, although it is a highway and traffic can pass by at a good clip.


Climb’s Start.

Borrego Springs is designated as an international “dark sky” location, meaning there are no stop lights in town so as to improve views of the sky at night. The town is surrounded by the 600,000 acre Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (est. 1933) which is the largest state park, not only in California, but also in the US.  Come for the ride, stay for the fun: there are four public golf courses, a tennis center, horseback riding, and it is a destination for the winter migration of snowbirds.


Climb’s Finish.