Start: 5,318 feet
Finish: 10,163 feet
Length: 15.6 miles
Total Elevation: 4,845 feet
Rating: Cat. 1
One of the most difficult climbs in Nevada, Wheeler is a lonely climb near the state’s eastern border that few people know about. It is significantly longer and as steep as one route up the Col d’Izoard, a beyond category climb often used in the Tour. A very straight and steady-grade greets you at the base of this isolated hill, with great views of usually snow-capped Wheeler Peak in Great Basin National Park. After turning right on Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive (continue straight to get to the National Park Visitors Center), the road is narrow and twisty and wends through stands of trees. The climb ends at Summit Trailhead (10,163 feet), with the massive mountain right in front of you. The paved road continues but descends down to a campground.
Summerson says: “This island peak is almost always snow-capped. You climb from the desert to the high alpine. I don’t think I’ve ever seen another cyclists on Wheeler.”
Logistics: Part of this climb’s appeal is its remoteness. There are a few little motels and diners in Baker that feed Great Basin National Park ($6 a night to camp) but it’s the sort of place you figure out once you roll in. From town, take Route 487 to the junction with Route 488, where the climb begins by heading toward the park.