Passo Gardena from Corvara

 Also called:  Jù de Frara [ladin-badiot] Jëuf de Frea [ladin-ghërdana] | Grödnerjoch [german]

Vertical climb: 599 m.
Average grade: 6.4 %
Highest grade: 12%
Starting elevation: 1,522 m.
Final elevation: 2,121 m.
Distance: 9.30 km
Total hairpins: 17

Strava segment: -link-
Times Giro d’Italia passed the Gardena: 16
Water fountains: 1 in Colfosco after climbing 2km

Other roads to reach the top: Passo Gardena from Plan de Gralba
Dolomite pass following Gardena: Passo Sella

Passo Gardena with the Sella massifThe Passo Gardena is the main connecting road between the ladin valleys of Val Badia and Val Gardena, and as the main road, it is also one of the busiest passes of the Dolomites. In the morning you may encounter commuters driving to work, and herds of tourists or motorbikes on a ride throughout the day.
Having said this … as a local cyclist, I’m really hoping the local government will put in place new traffic restrictions, at least to curb the noise caused by motorbikes that on some weekends makes it impossible to ride – unless you want to return home at night with ringing noise in your ears. Let’s see how long it takes for me to update this post with good news!

All this shouldn’t stop you from riding the Passo Gardena! There are some good days & hours to ride, like during midday (12:00 – 13:30) when everyone usually has lunch, or, the most perfect day to ride is during the Sellaronda Bikeday when all Sellaronda passes (Gardena, Sella, Pordoi, Campolongo) are closed to motorized vehicles.

3D view of Passo Gardena from CorvaraThe climb starts from Corvara and the first part of the ride is to reach the town of Colfosco. The gradient is around 8-9%. As soon as you enter the town, the road gets even steeper and, honestly, I always consider this the hardest part of the whole climb. As soon as you leave Colfosco behind, the first hairpins begin. Hairpin after hairpin, the straights in between get shorter and you see all the hairpins lined up above you.
After 5.6 km into the climb (around 3.5 from the top), once you pass each hairpin, the road grade is always above 10%. If you ride this stretch in early spring you’ll be riding on gravel, huge cracks, potholes and roadbumps. The reason for this is because winter landslides in the area create a continuous, moving terrain and the road needs to get repaired once the snow melts in spring. The only time the road is perfect is between the starting week of the Maratona dles Dolomites until the end of July or August (depending on weather conditions).  Riding it uphill won’t give you any problems, but pay attention when you ride downhill. And, don’t waste time complaining – mother nature rules!

Top of Passo Gardena ©PatitucciPhotoAfter this bumpy part, the last 1.5 km are perfect again. During the last 3 km you can see the hut at the top of the climb getting nearer, or – if you are tired – it never arrives!
When you reach the top, you experience something we call when we are guiding our guests: the “WOW”‘ moment – a totally different view opens up in front of you with the majestic Sasslong / Sassolungo in the background.

Curiosities:

  • From 1987 to 1989 and from 1992 to 1997, Passo Gardena was the first climb of the Maratona dles Dolomites.
    Course cards available with our Dolomites Cycling Map.

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