The Hardest Bike Climbs in Utah

#1
Powder Mountain
USA, UT
#2
Guardsman Pass
USA, UT
#3
Little Cottonwood Canyon
USA, UT
#4
Big Cottonwood Canyon
USA, UT
#5
Hwy 143
USA, UT
#6
Empire Pass, Midway
USA, UT
#7
Hwy 31 West
USA, UT
#8
Hwy 153
USA, UT
#9
Cedar Canyon
USA, UT
#10
La Sal Loop (Castle Valley)
USA, UT

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

Cycling Utah

Kolob Terrace, Zion National Park (Utah #7)

Utah has some very challenging bike climbs (six in the US Top 50 and nine in the Top 100), as well as some extremely scenic bike climbs, particularly the spectacular Kolob Terrace (Zion NP), Cedar Canyon (Dixie National Forest) and La Sal Loop (just outside Arches NP) climbs.  

HARDEST UTAH BIKE CLIMB

POWDER MOUNTAIN (#11 US/#98 WORLD)

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Bring your climbing legs for the very challenging Powder Mountain bike climb near Salt Lake City, Utah.  The ride begins with a  modest 5.2% average grade for the first two miles, and ends with 5.6  miles of 11.1% average grade, with Mile 3-4 at 13.8%.  

SECOND HARDEST AND MUST-DO UTAH CLIMB

GUARDSMANS PASS (#15 US / #122 WORLD)

Ride only 8.8 miles but gain 3,927’ at 8.5% average grade.

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 it's most challenging section the 1.4 miles from 0.95 - 2.3 miles at 11.8% average grade.  The last 1.7 miles from the intersection of Guardsman and Empire  Passes of roadway is no more than a wide single lane in very poor condition.  

MOST BEAUTIFUL #1

KOLOB TERRACE (UTAH #7)

Cycling The most gorgeous bike climbs in the world - Dolomites - Passo Gardena - Mountains at sunset and roadway

Beauty is subjective and in the eye of the beholder.  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%.  

Simply stunning scenery on this ride.

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).

MOST BEAUTIFUL #2

LA SAL LOOP (CASTLE VALLEY)

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This is an “Oh My!” ride, it is just spectacular.  Come to Moab for the mountainbiking, stay for the road biking!  Beginning at the southeastern edge of Arches National Park, this ride shows treats us right away to the colorful rock formations that have made Arches one of the most popular of the national parks.  

BEST UTAH NATIONAL PARK TO CYCLE

ZION NATIONAL PARK

Cycling Zion National Park - aerial drone photo of the canyons

Cycling Zion National Park

We choose Zion National Park as the Best Utah National Park to climb by bike not because it is the best park (it may be, though), but because it is beautiful and it does have several paved bike rides in and near it.

Photo - from upper left clockwise:

Kolob Canyon; Zion Canyon; Hwy 9 to Tunnel; Kolob Canyon; Kolob Reservoir (center)

MOST POPULAR BIG CLIMBS IN UTAH

LITTLE COTTONWOOD CANYON

Of the major bike climbs we have documented in Utah, Little Cottonwood Canyon has the second most Strava member rides - over 6,000 Strava members have ridden up Little Cottonwood Canyon to Alta Ski Resort as of February, 2020.  

Emigration Canyon (7.6 miles at 3.2%) is the most popular climb in Utah.  This climb begins in east Salt Lake City and climbs into the Wasatch Mountains - as of February, 2020, over 13,000 Strava members had completed the climb.

Emigration Canyon

View of Little Dell Reservoir from the top of the climb.