Background photo - U.S. #5 Pikes Peak CO.
Note: Click on “View full route" (top left) which opens the East Portal RideWithGPS page. Hover over the distance line at the spot you would like to begin a sub- segment for this climb. Click your mouse on the start point and drag the vertical graphing line the distance you wish to obtain sub-detail from, then release the mouse at the end point. This will give you the following sub-detail for the selected segment in the “Metrics” window top right of the page: (a) distance, (b) elevation gained and lost, (c) max grade, (d) average grade (e) that segment's climb category – e.g. Cat 1, HC, etc., and (f) FIETS score for the segment.
Each elevation segment is ~ 1/4 mile.
Switchbacks are up the middle of the canyon, in background
Hover cursor over segment slices (below) for exact grade of a particular segment. Map route (bottom) colors correlate with elevation legend colors.
This one's a bit of an outlier, but well worth the drive to get to Black Canyon! The climb itself is brief but together with Mt. Ascutney in Vermont gives you as much pop in 3 miles as you will get on any of the Top U.S. 100 Climbs. On the banner photo above you can make out some of the switchbacks at the beginning of the climb (middle of photo). The views are spectacular (on the ascent, however, you will have your back to them and likely have head down and grinding it out!) and the climb quite challenging. The National Park Service describes the area "Deep, Steep and Narrow: Big enough to be overwhelming, still intimate enough to feel the pulse of time, Black Canyon of the Gunnison exposes you to some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rock, and craggiest spires in North America. With two million years to work, the Gunnison River, along with the forces of weathering, has sculpted this vertical wilderness of rock, water, and sky."
Consider camping at theEast Portal Campground which looked like a great place to camp and gets high marks onYelp. Since you are travelling to one of the more remote of the Top 100 climbs, making a day or weekend of it in this amazing National Park and canyon area is worth the while.
Roadway surface and traffic: Roadway is in excellent shape and there is minimal traffic (and slow moving) on the way up.
You will get a very good sense of the climb and surroundings by viewing our YouTube video.