Empire Pass, Park City Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

4.7 mi
1,978 ft
7.7 %


Page Contributor(s): Ron Hawks, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.


"The north side of Empire Pass is a solid and scenic climb from and above spectacular Park City, Utah. The grade begins as shallow in Park City and gradually gets steeper. At mile 1.4 bear right onto Marzaac to find steepening grade. You encounter a short descent just over 3 miles in and then climbing resumes over moderate grade among condos. The slope gradually gets steeper again until a traffic circle at a resort. From there steep grade returns to the final mile of climbing which includes a few switchbacks. Near the very top the grade eases at the obvious summit with good views of the surrounding mountains." (This quote is presented with the approval of John Summerson, from his book, 50 Climbs (by Bike) in Utah, pg. 108.)
7.75% average grade (8.5% climb only) with 51% of the climb at 5-10% and 30% at 10-15%. The steepest quarter-mile is 13.3%.

See more details and tools regarding this climb's grade via the “Profile Tool” button.
Roadway:  Two lane road in excellent condition with no shoulder. 

Traffic:  Mild to mild-moderate. 

Parking:  We have always stayed in Park City and ride from our hotel, but there are many public parking locations in Park City (Parking Map).  It can be a challenge to park in Park City, but as you can see from the parking map, there are six parking areas within a few blocks of the roundabout where we start our climb. 
Provisions:  None on the route, but plenty in Park City. 

Weather and Gear:  You are at elevation (nearly 9,000' at the summit) so be sure to consult the PJAMM "Full Forecast" feature for the time you expect to be on your ride.
Before heading out on any cycling adventure check out our Things to Bring on a Cycling Trip and use our interactive check list to ensure you don't forget anything.
There are many things to do in Park City (Google Map and Reviews - things to do in Park City).  We also consider Park City a hub for great bike climbs in northern Utah (see PJAMM's Park City, UT climb area page).  

Use the “Routes in Area” button on the menu bar to see other bike climbs in this area. 



Difficulty: Strenuous



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Sep 18, 2021
difficulty: Strenuous
scenery: 5
traffic: 4
road: 5
Sep 18, 2021
scenery: 5
traffic: 4
road: 5
Steep at the start and steeper than you’d like at the end. Some vehicles, but people in the area give plenty of space. Fast descent.

Climb Profile Not Found

View of Rocky Mountains from Empire Pass

Routes along Empire Pass, from Park City and from Midway.

Climb summary by PJAMM’s John Johnson.

Ride 4.7 miles gaining 1,966’ at 7.7% average grade.


Route travels the border of Deer Valley Ski Resort and under Ruby Express Chair lift.


The Empire Pass climb from Park City is much less difficult than starting from Midway (which is effectively Guardsman minus 1.7 miles).  This climb begins at the south side of Park City and essentially splits two ski resorts (Park City and Deer Valley).  The roadway surface is excellent along this climb and the descent is the fastest we have ever experienced, there is no doubt this is one of the fastest descents in the U.S.  One stretch, referred to as “The Drop” on Strava has a KOM averaging 75 mph for 0.8 miles (Strava Link) and our friend Bruce Hamilton went 58 mph on an MTB over that stretch!  

As with nearly all top Utah climbs, great scenery along the route.

This climb can be done as an out and back from Midway (capturing both sides of Midway), or the “Big Kahuna” (Big Cottonwood/Guardsman + Guardsman/Empire from Midway + Empire from Park City, go here for a Map of The Big Kahuna). Our map begins and ends at the base of the Big Cottonwood Canyon climb, but you could also drive to the top of Guardsman, park there, then drive down to the bottom of any of the three climbs and begin your ascents, finishing at the top of Guardsman (since you will pass your vehicle at least once during the climbing, this is a good option as it gives you easy access to provisions along the way.

Finish of bike climb to Empire Pass from Park City Utah 


Steepest ¼ mile begins at mile 4.1 (13.2%) and steepest mile at 3.7 (10.9%).

Traffic and Roadway:  Traffic is mild for the route, the roadway wide and in very good condition.  Both routes ascending to Empire pass feel safe.

Here’s what Tour of Utah (2016) says about Empire Pass:

“Just say “Empire Pass” to a veteran of the Tour of Utah—then watch their face twist to an expression of excruciating anguish. Few climbs in the world have a reputation similar to Empire Pass. Topping out at over 9000 ft, with rough pavement, average grades of 10% and pitches reaching over 20%, Empire Pass is quite simply the toughest climb raced in the United States. But this stage isn’t won on the summit. The winner needs a phenomenal ascent up Empire that’s followed by an equally brave descent down through the technically challenging Deer Valley Resort and into Park City. New this year will be a quick tour through downtown Park City, where our stage winner will need to save a little something special for the stage’s finish line; now positioned—after one last grinding climb—at the top of Main Street.”

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