Healthy Outdoor Living

Best National Parks to Mountain Bike

More from Outdoor Living Newsletter February Outdoor Living Newsletter
Mountain biking on a forest trail
Mountain bike camping trips can lead you to fabulous adventures

A mountain bike camping trip not only gives us the opportunity to get away from the city and be outdoors, but also allows us to ride like the wind and treat ourselves to the ever-changing vistas on the bike trails, with sceneries often so spectacular that they take our breath away.

All bike trails are unique. Each one we travel on gives us a different kind of thrill and excites us in ways we may not have experienced before. We've come up with our five best National Parks to visit for mountain bike camping trips.

Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park doesn't have dedicated bike lanes, so bikers have to share the 22-mile paved scenic drive with other motorists. Riding a bike along the scenic drive of the Arches National Park is certainly worth it because it provides the biker with magnificent views of some of the most dramatic rock formations in the country (called hoodoos) with such whimsical names as Parade of Elephants, Garden of Eden, and Paul Bunyan's Potty. You can also let your eyes travel and see the contrast of fiery deserts and snow-capped peaks on the horizon.

Mountain biking at Arches National Park can be tricky for the less experienced biker. It is a must for you to ride in single file with other bikers to avoid road accidents. Moreover, it is recommended that you go for your ride in the early morning to avoid eating the dust of the road stirred by motorists passing through the drive and the midday summer heat.

Find campgrounds and RV parks near the Arches National Park.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Just like in Arches National Park, you can treat yourself to spectacular panoramas of dramatic geographic formations at the Grand Canyon National Park while riding your mountain bike. It is even awesome to explore the bike trails at different times of the day, so you can be a spectator to how the changing daylight also changes the sights of the canyon before you.

Mountain biking at the Grand Canyon National Park is best done on the Arizona Trail at the South Rim and on the roads through the Kaibab National Forest at the North Rim. The 20-mile bike trail at the South Rim is perfect for intermediate bikers, while the mazelike trails at the North Rim require a bit more experience. The trails can also be muddy and slick on wet days. Also, Arizona traffic laws apply to automobile drivers as well as bikers, so be careful when riding your mountain bike at the Grand Canyon National Park.

Find campgrounds and RV parks near the Grand Canyon National Park North Rim.
Find campgrounds and RV parks near the Grand Canyon National Park South Rim

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina

Because of its steep and narrow roads, blind curbs as well as heavy vehicular traffic, mountain biking is prohibited in most areas of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, except on the 11-mile Cades Cove Loop Road. Many would say that limiting mountain biking to this particular roadway is worth it because the forest landscapes are awesome, the trail is safe even with its steep grades and rolling hills, and the wildlife is less likely to get scared off by passing vehicles. The park management even encourages biking on the Cades Cove Loop Road by closing it to automobile traffic on Wednesday and Saturday mornings until 10 AM from May to September.

Although the Cades Cove Loop Road is safer compared to the other roadways in the park, the steepness of the terrain requires you to have some experience with mountain bikes before trying out this trail. Since the Cades Cove Loop is mostly a forest road, you should keep your eyes peeled for fallen branches and leaves when you bike. The road can also be extremely slippery on wet days.

Find campgrounds and RV parks near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii

Mountain biking at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park can be done at any of its three main roads. Biking on these roads can be an adventure of a lifetime regardless of your experience level, as you are sure to be treated to breathtaking sights of contrasting landscapes as well as incomparable excitement tinged with a sense of danger. At the 11-mile Crater Rim Drive, you get to see the smoking caldera of the Kilauea Crater after passing through lush forests and a barren-looking desert. At the 40-mile roundtrip Chain of Craters Road, you see with your own eyes evidences of Hawaii's volcanic history while enjoying seascapes at the horizon. At the one-mile Mauna Loa Strip Road, you will pass through a mature forest with old trees, rare plant-life and various kinds of fauna.

As awesome as mountain biking can be at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, there are two things you need to be prepared for when you visit the place: the weather and the volcanic air pollution. Rain comes and goes in the park, making the roads slippery and dangerous to bikers. The smell and the presence of sulfur in the misty air can also be harmful to the lungs. You should avoid camping at this park if you have heart or respiratory conditions or if you are pregnant.

Find campgrounds and RV parks near the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Redwood National Park, California

Mountain biking through the Redwood National Park is often described as a surreal experience. The visit can feel like stepping into an otherworldly place filled with tall redwoods that are at least 2,000 years old, surrounded by mists and sheltering a wide variety of flora and fauna. Redwood National Park is often likened to a vast cathedral. The place invites you to tread here solemnly, and indeed you must in order not to disturb the plants and animals living at the park.

To say that mountain biking at the Redwood National Park is a treat is an understatement. This is a place where you must not rip through the trails on your bike like the wind. You need to savor every vista you see here, one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Also, speeding on your bike is highly discouraged as the trails can be dangerous. The park has six mountain biking trails - the Last Chance section of the Coastal Trail, Davidson Road, Little Bald Hills, Lost Man Creek, Prairie Creek, and Rellim Ridge - that are suitable for bikers of any experience level.

Find campgrounds and RV parks near the Redwood National Park.

A mountain bike camping trip is an ideal way to have an adventure on your camping trip. Not only do you get out there and ride like the wind, but you also get to treat yourself to ever-changing landscapes that can simply take your breath away and leave you in awe.

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