A memorable road trip to Col de Riou in the Pyrenees

Col de Riou is a high mountain peak at an elevation of 1.949m (6,394ft) above the sea level, located in the Hautes-Pyrénées department in the Occitan region of south-western France.

Col de Riou

Set high in the Pyrénées National Park, the road to the summit is totally unpaved and very narrow, with dangerous drop offs. Accessibility is largely limited to the summer season. It is not generally snow-free until late June or even July in some years. At the summit there’s a ruined building that was the L'hôtellerie du Col de Riou. The hotel was abandoned between 1943 and 1945 because the access to the mountain was regulated by the Germans.

The road to the summit is steep. Starting at Bederet parking lot, north of Ski Resort Luz Ardiden, the ascent is 4.0km (2.48miles) long. Over this distance the elevation gain is 265 meters. The average gradient is 6.62%, hitting a 15.1% of maximum gradient through some of the ramps. The summit offers stunning views of Cauterets and Luz-Saint-Sauveur valleys and the surrounding peaks.