US Top 10 Most Scenic Road Bike Climbs
Photos clockwise from top left: Waimea Canyon, HI; Glacier Point, CA;
Mt. Lemmon, AZ; Kolob Canyon, UT; Hurricane Ride, WA (center).
We began this website in July 2014 and since the beginning have adhered to a rule of objectivity -- rankings have always been based on objective criteria, almost exclusively the Fiets index. While there can be mild disagreements regarding the proper formula to use for ranking cycling climbs, any dispute focuses on the formula, not on us. The problem with straying from the formula to create “Most Scenic” and “Most Epic” pages, is that we are now dealing an opinion versus the formula. However, after over five years of significant world and US travel with the sole purpose of documenting the most difficult, scenic, and overall epic bike climbs, I have accumulated a body of work that I believe permits me to offer a reasonably well-founded opinion in the subjective fields of scenic climbs and epic cycling experiences. So, without further ado, in ascending order, PJAMM Cycling’s Top 10 Most Scenic US Bike Climbs:
#10 OF 10 US MOST BEAUTIFUL BIKE CLIMBS
LOGAN PASS, WYOMING
Cycling the best of the Rocky Mountains, Logan Pass - Going to the Sun Road, an epic and all-time US cycling climb. This extraordinary climb is located in the heart of Glacier National Park and just shy of Going-To-The-Sun-Mountain which is in the Central Montana subrange of the Rocky Mountains. Glacier NP is the tenth most visited of the 58 national parks, with an average of 2,965,000 visitors per year. Cycling is permitted in Glacier National Park, with the following restrictions on Going-to-the-Sun Road per the National Park Service:
For safety and to ease congestion, restrictions are in effect on sections of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, from June 15 through Labor Day:
From Apgar Campground to Sprague Creek Campground bicycles are prohibited, both directions, between 11 am and 4 pm.
From Logan Creek to Logan Pass east-bound (uphill) bicycle traffic is prohibited between 11 am and 4 pm. Start early! It takes about 45 minutes to ride from Sprague Creek to Logan Creek and about three hours from Logan Creek to Logan Pass.
#9 OF 10 US MOST SCENIC BIKE CLIMBS
LA SAL LOOP, UTAH
Castleton Tower as seen from the La Sal Loop bike climb.
This is an “Oh My!” ride, it is spectacular. Come to Moab for the mountainbiking, stay for the road biking! We begin this climb 15 miles north of Moab on Highway 128 at the southeastern border of Arches National Park, and are treated immediately to colorful rock formations that have made Arches one of the most popular and scenic National Parks in the U.S. For the first seven miles we are flanked by spectacular red sandstone bluffs, approaching, then passing at mile 4.5, the amazing natural wonder that is Castleton Tower, a 400’ red sandstone tower perched atop a 1,000 Moenkipi-Chinle cone (created as the sea receded millions of years ago from the Utah plains), this breathtaking site alone is worth the trip. Magnificent!
#8 OF 10 US MOST BEAUTIFUL BIKE CLIMBS
MOUNT MITCHELL, NORTH CAROLINA
Gorgeous views after 24 miles of tough climbing.
Mount Mitchell is the highest point in North Carolina, the Appalachian Mountains and east of the Mississippi River. There are 7 overlooks along the climb that offer stunning views of the surrounding Black Ridge Mountains. This is a must-do climb for anyone seeking a bike climbing challenge with exceptional scenery to dull the pain along the way.
#7 OF 10 US MOST BEAUTIFUL BIKE CLIMBS
GLACIER POINT, YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CALIFORNIA
The Yosemite Valley to Glacier Point bike climb has greatest one-two punches for scenic viewpoints in the United States: Tunnel View and Glacier Point (throw in Washburn Point, just before Glacier Point, as a bonus).
#6 OF 10 US MOST SCENIC BIKE CLIMBS
WHITEFACE MOUNTAIN, LAKE PLACID, NEW YORK
Lake Placid as seen from the climb’s finish.
The views of Lake Placid and the surrounding mountains, particularly during the fall colors, are stunning. In addition to the amazing views along this climb, the toll road leading us to Summit Tunnel and Castle at the top of the climb is the most pristine we have encountered in our US cycling travels.
Cycling Whiteface Mountain, New York.
Near Lake Placid, this is the top New York bike climb.
#5 OF 10 US MOST BEAUTIFUL BIKE CLIMBS
TRAIL RIDGE, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, COLORADO
Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved road in the United States, traversing Rocky Mountain National Park, and offering spectacular views along the giant switchbacks 20 miles below a summit that tops out at a whopping 12,000'. Trail Ridge is also the second longest bike climb in the US.
High point of the climb -- 12,144’.
#4 OF 10 US MOST BEAUTIFUL BIKE CLIMBS
BEARTOOTH PASS NORTH, MONTANA
Beartooth Highway is the highest paved highway in the northern Rocky Mountains and was referred to by the late CBS news correspondent Charles Kuralt as "the most beautiful drive in America.”
#3 OF 10 US MOST BEAUTIFUL BIKE CLIMBS
KOLOB TERRACE, ZION NATIONAL PARK, UTAH
Though beauty is subjective, if we had to choose only one road bike climb to do in Utah, it would be Kolob Terrace.
This amazing bike climb has incredible views of Southern Utah rock formations, enters and skirts the western edge of Zion National Park, and ends just short of Blue Springs Reservoir and Kolob Peak. The toughest part of the climb is the very scenic stretch from miles three to five, averaging 8.4%.
The Kolob Terrace Road bike climb takes us towards Kolob Mountain in the Colorado Plateau Province, which covers parts of the four corners area (western Colorado, northwestern New Mexico, southern and eastern Utah, and northern Arizona).
#2 OF 10 US MOST BEAUTIFUL BIKE CLIMBS
HURRICANE RIDGE, OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK, WASHINGTON
WOW . . . most of this amazing bike climb travels through the spectacular Olympic National Park in Washington state. This is an exceptional climb for many reasons, including gorgeous scenery, magnificent views, the incredible road, super fun descent, heavily forested for most of the climb, and location within a National Park.
Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center.
Wildflowers from early spring into fall, depending on your elevation.
It’s a bit of a trek to get to, but you don’t have to drive your car to get there!
Mt. Rainier as seen from the ferry.
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BIKE CLIMB IN THE UNITED STATES
MT. LEMMON, ARIZONA
Mt. Lemmon is the most popular bicycle climb in the US.
If you have to pick only one bicycle climb in Arizona (or, perhaps, the US), Mt. Lemmon should be the one. This is an exceptionally scenic bike ride beginning at the northeastern edge of Tucson, Arizona (the desert!). You begin in the heat of the high desert at just under 3,000' and climb into the cooler regions of Mt. Lemmon (just above 9,000'). The grade for most of the climb is as steady as you will ever find – generally within the 4-6% range, until turning right onto E. Ski Run Road from N. General Hitchcock Highway at mile 25.8. The last 3.2 miles of the climb average 7.5%, and the final push past the ski resort up the final 1.7 miles to the observatories (the gate at the end blocking the last 200 yards has only been open on one out of our four trips to the top) is 8%.
Climbing this mountain is truly an out-of-this-world, unique experience.
AND AN HONORABLE BECAUSE WE COULDN’T STAND TO LEAVE THESE TWO OUT
GRANITE PASS, WYOMING
Cycling in the great state of Wyoming, this 17.7 mile bike climb is frontier biking for sure. Ride through a narrow canyon parallel to Shell Creek while surrounded by colorful rock formations for most of the climb, before finishing above 9,000’ in the high plains of Wyoming.
And, that’s a wrap! We understand and appreciate that our list is subjective, and thus is subject to disagreement. We doubt there would be many Top 10 US Most Scenic Bike Climb lists that would line up precisely. However, we would strongly disagree with any Top 10 list that did not include at least one of these breathtakingly gorgeous climbs. We always welcome feedback regarding our list via our Contact Us page.
WAIMEA CANYON, HAWAII
The #1 reason to ride Waimea Canyon by bike:
You can stop anywhere you want!
Photo: Waimea Canyon Lookout
Waimea Canyon is one of the most beautiful places on earth, in our opinion, anyway! The canyon is about 10 miles in length and 3,000’ deep. “Waimea” means “reddish water” in Hawaiian. The canyon has a unique and spectacular reddish hue to it, giving the views a unique and scenic quality. This bike climb is through Waimea Canyon State Park, which consists of 1,866 acres. Waimea Canyon is referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”.
Some of the most spectacular views you will ever experience on a bike climb come from the top of the Waimea Canyon climb by bike: The Waimea Canyon Lookout (mile 10.5), Pu’uhinahina Lookout (mile 13.8), and Pu’u O Kila Lookout (end of the climb, mile 19.2).