Did you know the National Park Service turns 100 this year? The United States are home to millions of acres of wild, beautiful landscapes preserved for our enjoyment, reflection, and to ensure that places that are truly wild stay that way for future generations to experience.
One of the best ways to experience our national parks is, of course, by bike! Whether shredding single track in bear country or cruising paved trails near the seashore, our National Parks offer some truly special places to see from the saddle.
There are endless list-icles out there espousing the "best" National Parks for a ride, and they're all right! So, consider this article less an authority on where you must go, and more of an inspirational post to motivate you to plan a trip!
Bicycling Magazine put out an article dedicated specifically to mountain biking at parks, stating that there are 40 parks where single track riding is available. That is an amazing amount of trail to explore!
The primary purpose of our park service is to preserve and protect the resources put in the public trust under their supervision. Mountain biking, as amazingly fun and thrilling as it is, can be destructive to natural resources, so being allowed to shred trail on park grounds is a privilege any mountain biker should embrace. .
Try the 30 miles of singletrack available at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Tennessee!
Riding opportunities also exist at the New River Gorge National Recreation Area, West Virginia, Redwoods National Park, California, Saguaro National Park, Arizona, and many others. My home state of Texas boasts miles of trails at both Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park (an area so big they need two parks!) that gather hundreds of riders every winter for mountain biking festivals.
Road Cycling and Cruising
A much more feasible way to see parks by bike is to use your road bike or even a hybrid or crusier. Since National Parks are accessible by car on park roads, those roads are almost uniformly also open to cyclists. There are even parks with bike-only paths, such as Yosemite National Park- where you can escape car traffic and soak up the peace of nature with just your two wheels! These lists of 10 Great National Parks by Active.com and 13 Great Rides by Bicycling should offer some great inspiration!
Tours and Special Trips
Too intimidated, overwhelmed, or inexperienced to plan a cycling trip on your own? Join a cycling tour! There are several that exist, including Cycle Greater Yellowstone for wild west lovers. There are even tour companies that do weeklong, month long, and longer trips across the country that hit several gorgeous destinations all at once, such as WomanTours Bicycle Tour company, that caters specifically to female riders of all skill levels.
Whatever you Choose
Choose a park! Our national parks are an amazing treasure open to everyone! Every park has its own site full of information on activities available. Don't know your closest national park? Check here! Whether you shred down a mountain on rocky single track, climb back up on paved switchback, or cruise through valleys on your favorite hybrid, time outdoors is never time wasted- it's good for you, both mentally and physically, and a great way to share experiences with families, friends, or just the voice in your head calling out for an adventure.