Well, this just has to be on the bucket list. It is one of 9 Top 100 U.S. climbs in the Bishop area and it is said to be the highest paved accessible road in California. The bottom portion of the ride takes us through the northern Owens Valley with great views of the steep and dramatic Eastern Sierra Nevada range to our left for the first 5 of this 20 mile journey. Beware that the temperatures during the summer can be stifling.
This ride is really 2 climbs linked together - the lower portion (Lower Rock Creek Rd) has an average grade of 4.3% over a 9.2 mile stretch (to Hwy 395). We are then on busy Hwy 395 (with a very wide bike lane) for about 1 mile, then turn west onto Rock Creek Road and climb 10.5 miles at 5.7% average grade to the end of the line. The last 9.2 miles are in an alpine setting with views of the majestic Eastern Sierras as we climb. The Rock Creek Resort Grill and Cafe is located at mile 18.8. The scenery is spectacular along the second portion of the climb which would be a Top 100 climb by itself (without the first 10 miles). The roadway from Tom's Place to Mosquito Flat (end of the road) is pristine (one of the top 5 best roads in the U.S. Top 100 - right up there with Whiteface Mountain in New York). There are over 40 Share The Road signs and painted roadway cyclist images over this section - the highest concentration we have ever encountered.
There is fantastic hiking, fishing, lake activity, and scenery along Upper Rock Creek Road - this is just a wonderful and must-experience area - we LOVE IT. During our 2016 trip, we camped at East Fork Campground and had a blast. There are grills/stores at Rock Creek Resort and Tom's Place and pay showers at Rock Creek Resort.
Traffic and Roadway report: The roadway surface throughout the first portion of the ride is excellent. We have 1 mile on busy Hwy 395, but there is a nice wide bike lane the length of this segment. The roadway leading up to the top of the climb is a pristine as you will ever encounter and as a bonus, there is actually a bike lane the entire length of this lightly traveled road - it is just perfect!
Background photo - U.S. #5 Pikes Peak CO.
Note: Click on “View full route" (top left) which opens the Rock Creek Road 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.