Colorado boasts some of the best road rides around, as long as you like a little climbing. If the steep grades and high elevations don’t leave you breathless, the spectacular views are sure to get to you. Here are the top 4 climbs that will leave your lungs and legs screaming:
4. Trail Ridge Road (from Estes Park)
17.9 miles, 4,352’ elevation gain, 4.6% average grade, 12,113’ summit elevation
Located in Rocky Mountain National Park, Trail Ridge Road offers high alpine scenery in some of the most majestic and accessible mountains around. Start in Estes Park, a cute town nestled in the mountains, which is about an hour-long drive from Denver. This ride is in a National Park, so keep on the lookout for wildlife like moose and big horned sheep along the way.
3. Independence Pass (from Aspen)
15.8 miles, 3,986’ elevation gain, 4.9% average grade, 12,102’ summit elevation
This ride is sure to put anyone on edge. Both sides of the pass have tight steep switchbacks that carry riders up to the 12,102’ Independence Pass, the third highest paved pass in the US. Located on the Continental Divide between Aspen and Twin Lakes, Independence Pass lies in the heart of the Colorado Rockies. When the leaves start changing in the fall this ride is especially gorgeous.
2. Mount Evans
27.4 miles, 6,957’ elevation gain, 4.9% average grade, 14,130’ summit elevation
Mount Evans boasts the highest paved road in North America and is one of the two Colorado 14ers with roads to the summits. At 14,000’ the effective oxygen percentage in air is only 12%, compared to 21% at sea level, so get ready to literally suck air on this climb. All 27.4 miles of this climb are uphill, but make sure to save some energy for the final switchbacks because they just get steeper and steeper.
1. Pikes Peak
24.2 miles, 7,914’ elevation gain, 6.5% average grade, 14,115’ summit elevation
Climbing almost 8,000’ in 24 miles with grades up to 14%? You could say that Pikes Peak makes the short list of “Hills From Hell.” Although most of your time spent on this climb will probably be deep in the pain cave, it will be worth it on top. Pikes is an ultra-prominent peak, meaning that it doesn’t have any surrounding peaks of the same stature. On a clear day you can see for miles in every direction. At the summit treat yourself to a doughnut at the visitor’s center and gift shop. You deserve it; you just finished the most brutal hill climb in Colorado.
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