Utah Most Epic Bike Climbs

Shafer Trail
Kolob Terrace Road
La Sal Loop (Castle Valley)
Guardsman Pass
Arches Scenic Drive

Climb List: Utah
(sort by distance, difficulty, elevation and more)

Cycling Utah

Cycling the most epic bike climbs in Utah - photo collage, PJAMM Cycling logo in the corner, signs for Arches and Zion national Parks, aerial views of road snaking up a canyonside, cyclist climbing on roadway

Photos clockwise from upper left:

#1 Shafer Trail; #4 Guardsman Pass; #5 Scenic Drive, Arches NP;

#3 La Sal Loop, Moab; #2 Kolob Terrace, Zion NP


(in reverse order)


Bike parked in front of NPS sign for Arches National Park

One of the most extraordinary cycling experiences in the world.

Ride 34 miles with 3,494’ in elevation gain.

Scenic Drive is #5 only because it is not much of a climb (other than the two mile beginning) as it is a wondrous rolling adventure through some of the greatest views and rock formations in the world.

In my opinion, bicycle is the only way to tour Arches National Park.  The traffic can be so bad during tourist season that is likely to be up to a mile back up to get into the park via motor vehicle.  On our bikes, we ride past all of the stopped cars and can stop anywhere along the 34 mile route that we want -- you just cannot experience the park in a motor vehicle the way you can on a bike.  I rode my bike in the park twice (once the full route, second a shorter version) and my wife and I drove in the park twice -- no comparison!

Natural stone archway

This is an out-and-back ride without turning off on any of the spur roads as our Arches All Roads (45.3 miles 4,354’ elevation gain) route does.

panoramic view of Scenic Drive, red stone monuments in a desert landscape

Approximately miles 3-7 of Scenic Drive (roadway photo left and center).

Bike parked on roadside overlooking stone formations: Three Gossips, Sheep Rock, Tower of Babel, and The Organ

La Sal Mountains Viewpoint at mile 3.8.

photo collage, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, Utah license plate with Delicate Arch picture on it, John and Rochelle Johnson in front of Delicate Arch, yellow PJAMM cycling jersey

Delicate Arch has been the image on the Utah license plate since 2007.

The Organ, Tower of Babel, Three Gossips and Sheep Rock, Sheep Rock, Balanced Rock, photo collage, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner

Photo upper left:  foreground The Organ; background Tower of Babel

Upper right:  Three Gossips and Sheep Rock; Bottom right Sheep Rock

Bottom left:  Balanced Rock bottom center of photo.


panoramic view of Guardsman Pass from Midway

Guardsman Pass from Midway.

Ride 8.8 miles gaining 3,927’ to elevation 9,698’ at 8.5% average grade.

photo collage, views along Guardsman Pass cycling climb

Guardsman Pass from Midway is amongst the best cycling climbs in Utah.  This is also the second most difficult climb by bike in Utah, and shares its first seven miles with Empire Pass.  Guardsman Pass begins just north of Midway, Utah and can be reached by three routes: from Midway, Park City, or via Big Cottonwood Canyon. The Midway ascent to Guardsman Pass is very narrow and rough, but with very little traffic.  The climb is steep throughout with its most challenging section the 1.4 miles from 0.95 - 2.3 miles at 11.8% average grade.


Cycling La Sal Loop Road at Castle Valley - bike parked on side of roadway overlooking scrub brush, and beyond red bluffs and canyons

Cycling La Sal Loop Road Utah, an exceptionally scenic bike climb.

Ride 16.9 miles gaining 4,411’ to elevation 8,337’ at 4.8% average grade.

US Top 10 Most Scenic Bike Climb.

Cycling La Sal Loop Road at Castle Valley - photo collage, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, bike parked in front of various red bluffs, one of which is called The Rectory

Along the first part of the climb.

Upper left, lower left and lower right photos are of The Rectory, located just north of Castleton Tower.

Cycling La Sal Loop Road at Castle Valley - photo collage, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, Castleton Tower

Photos of Castleton Tower taken from miles 3-6.

Cycling La Sal Loop Road at Castle Valley - PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, bike parked in center of two-lane roadway looking back toward Castleton Tower and The Rectory

Views back at Castleton Tower and The Rectory at mile 7.2.

There’s a lot of straight for the first half of this climb.

Cycling La Sal Loop Road at Castle Valley - photo collage, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, views from top of climb overlooking hillsides covered in low scrub brush and red canyons and bluffs beyond


Cycling Kolob Terrace Road - aerial drone photo of road and mountains

Cycling Kolob Terrace: Perhaps the most scenic of all 100 US bike climbs.

Ride 15.4 glorious miles gaining 4,400’ to elevation 7,989 at 5.2% average grade.

Visit our Zion National Park page.

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 through five, which averages 8.4%.   

Cycling KOLOB TERRACE ROAD, ZION NP - photo collage, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, cyclist resting on sign for Zion National Park, Kolob Terrace, views along roadway of Kolob Terrace

Bicycle ride up Kolob Terrace - red rock mountain formations bike and roadway


Cycling Shafer Trail, Canyonlands National Park - bike sitting atop flat rock plateau overlooking  brown canyons and blue mountains far in the distance

Cycling Shafer Trail, Canyonlands National Park

Ride 5.3 miles gaining 1,436’ to 5,823’ at 5.1% average grade.

First half of the climb is at 9%.

Shafer Trail is a US Top 10 Most Epic Bike climb. Visit our PJAMM Canyonlands page for more on Shafer Trail and others in the area.

Cycling Shafer Trail, Canyonlands National Park - gorgeous views of canyons and red and brown striated carved canyon sides

One of the most epic and unique bike climbs in the US.

Cycling Shafer Trail, Canyonlands National Park - photo collage, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, bike parked at various locations on roadside overlooking steep and sudden drop down into canyon, bike parked on flat roadway before climb's beginning, bike parked against large NPS sign for Canyonlands National Park, aerial drone view looking down into the canyon with switchback roads carved into canyonside

In our opinion, this is the most epic bike climb in Utah, and is one of the only US climbs resemble the great Death Road of Bolivia, although there are many significant distinctions between the two.  What the two have in common are sheer cliffs bordering very narrow dirt roads.

Cycling Shafer Trail, Canyonlands National Park - PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, bike parked along roadside overlooking sheer drop into canyon, switchback below with van traveling down an extremely narrow dirt roadway, bike laying down in center of red dirt roadway

I did this trail on my Roubaix with 28mm road tires without any difficulty . . .

That is, other than the 9% first 2.5 miles in 100+ degrees.