Powder River Pass West Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

24.8 mi
5,290 ft
3.8 %


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


"The west side of Powder River Pass is a long and shallow climb up to high altitude in the isolated and spectacular Big Horn Mountains of northern Wyoming. The hill begins by following Route 16 east through scenic Ten Sleep Creek Canyon over mostly shallow grade. Soon you ascend a big S curve with increased grade up the ridge that takes you out of the deepest part of the canyon. The climb then gets more shallow over the last 9 miles to finish at the unmarked Powder River Pass (9,666 ft). Its descent is challenging in spots particularly the double switchback..." (This quote is presented with the approval of John Summerson, from his book, The Complete Guide to Climbing (by Bike), 2nd Edition, pg. 235.)  
3.8% average grade (4.6% climb only).  46% of the climb is at 0-5% grade and 41% is at 5-10%.  The steepest quarter-mile is 7.6% and steepest mile 6.2%.  
Roadway:  This climb is on two lane US Highway 16, in very good condition, and has a shoulder to ride in nearly all of the climb.

Traffic: Mild.

Parking:  On a side service road to the left at the start of the climb (MapStreet View). 
Provisions:  None on this long climb, but a few options in Ten Sleep four miles west of the climb start (Map). 
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.
This is a fairly remote bike climb without much around - if you like to hike, there are many options in Bighorn National Forest (our climb is at the southern end of the forest).  See All Trails Top Hikes in Bighorn National Forest for more information on hikes in the area. 



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Cycling Powder River, Wyoming - cyclist rides on straight portion of two-lane road

Wow! Cycling Powder River, Wyoming.

Ride 24.8 miles gaining 5,258’ at 3.8% average grade.

Cycling Powder River, Wyoming - cyclist rides in the distance on straight stretch of road surrounded by tall rock formations

A spectacular bike climb into the Bighorn National Forest and the Bighorn Mountains of the Rocky Mountain Range.  

Cycling Powder River, Wyoming - breathtaking, tall rock formations

Summary by PJAMM Cycling’s Ron Hawks of Las Vegas, Nevada:

This climb, which starts a few miles east of Ten Sleep on Highway 16, is a long one at just under 25 miles, but never too steep.  After several miles, we enter the Bighorn National Forest where the scenery is amazing.  Views include high rocky cliffs (similar to Cedar Canyon in Utah), beautiful pine trees, and flowing rivers along Highway 16.

Cycling Powder River, Wyoming - scenic, tall rock formations

Scenic rock formations throughout the climb.

Cycling Powder River, Wyoming - Meadowlark Lake, small lake surrounded by greenery and evergreen trees

Meadowlark Lake at mile 15.5.

The grade once we enter Big Horn National Forest is very consistent (5% to 6%) and allows for a nice tempo.  We encounter two switchbacks about midway through the climb that give us amazing views looking back to the valley below.  Around mile 17 the grade becomes variable for the rest of the ride with a few flat sections as well as shallow descents, which allowed us to tackle with vigor the last section at the summit.

Cycling Powder River, Wyoming - cyclist stands with bike, smiling next to sign for Powder River Pass, Elevation 9666

Thank you Ron Hawks!

Traffic and Roadway Surface Report: Road quality was very good, and we had a nice shoulder for the majority of the climb.  Traffic was very light and was never really an issue, which allowed us to enjoy this beautiful climb in northeast Wyoming.

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