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5 Incredible National Parks for Cycling

From the seat of a bike, exploring America’s national parks takes on a different view. As you pedal slowly through these protected lands, awareness of nature becomes strong, filling your nose with the smells of wilderness, while you feel the wind on your face. From cycling on the rim of a volcano and biking next to herds of bison to pedaling through the deserts of Utah and everything in between, these parks give cyclists of all levels amazing experiences in nature.
It is a great way to bond with your family, your friends, or as a couple in the majesty of the great outdoors.

The views, trails, and roads are awesome, but what lingers are not the miles you put on your legs. Instead, biking in the parks creates lifelong memories and experiences, and offers a unique and amazing way to see the most beautiful regions
in the country.

Crater lake National Park

Crater Lake
Photo by: Douglas Scott

Nowhere in the world can compare to biking at Crater Lake, which is exactly why you need to grab your bike and head out to Oregon’s only national park. Biking Crater Lake gets you up close and personal with the geology of one of the largest volcanic craters in existence. Home to the most amazing blue water you will ever lay eyes on, Crater Lake’s rim trail will you have drooling over the panoramic wonderland of America’s deepest lake. From the rocky cliffs above, it’s hard to imagine a more beautiful scene anywhere.

While Crater Lake offers incredible trails to hike, the best way to take in this natural wonder is by bike. The park has 33 miles of biking around the rim, with each mile somehow more stunning than the last. The ride showcases dozens of overlooks and views of the Pinnacles—towering, needle-like formations of rock. Be sure to cap off the ride with a quick off-bike run down to Cleetwood Cove, where you can catch a ferry to Wizard Island, a volcanic cinder cone with magical views.

Yellowstone National Park

Photo by: Douglas Scott

Where else can you have a safari adventure on a bike? Yellowstone National Park is like no other park in the national park system. It isn’t the access to the park’s stunning wilderness, rustic lodges, or even the impressive mountains that make it unique, but rather the overall environment that makes you feel like you are biking through a wildlife safari, with side stops at jaw-dropping geyser basins.

Riding through the park, you will encounter the overwhelming sulfur smells of geysers that momentarily distract you from the herds of bison and elk grazing in the grassy lands on and around either side of the paved bike path. With numerous roads, both paved and dirt, as well as a few trails to bike on, riding in the most iconic national park in the world will leave you in awe. Keep in mind that while animal encounters are minimal, riders do need to expect traffic jams from cars, bison, and maybe even bears. Follow all rules, and be extremely aware and safe.

Canyonlands National Park

Photo by: Chase Lindberg

If you have a mountain bike and haven’t ridden in Canyonlands National Park, you are missing the chance to ride on some of the most impressive day and overnight biking routes in America’s national parks.
Nestled in the rocky landscape of Utah, Canyonlands is one of the few national park locations where you can bike for an entire week and not repeat a road or trail. It has miles upon miles of trails to explore, each giving you views of the most stunning images this southern Utah park has to offer. Most popular is the incredibly gorgeous 100-mile White Rim Road, that grows more impressive with each monolithic tower and unfathomably gorgeous canyon wall you pass. Every trail here is worthwhile, so regardless of which route you choose, every rotation of your tires brings you closer to yet another memorable gem.

Shenandoah National Park

Photo by: Ken Rowland

Less than a two-hour drive from D.C., Shenandoah National Park’s Skyline Drive is the perfect biking route for those looking for beauty, elevation gain, and incredible views. This is a serious route, at 105 miles long, but its endless beauty makes the ride well worth the effort.

Biking Shenandoah is most stunning in the fall when the leaves erupt in an explosion of colors, making each turn a freshly painted, natural tapestry. For most, the highlight is getting on top of the hills, and seeing the beauty of the forests from above. However, don’t forget to check out the handful of beautiful roadside waterfalls along the way up. For less-serious bikers, Shenandoah can be split up into smaller biking sections, giving riders of all abilities
a chance to explore this often-overlooked park.

Bikers need to pay close attention while riding, as there are bears that occasionally wander into the road, and watch out for vehicles with drivers mesmerized by the beauty.

Redwoods National Park

Photo by: Linda Tanner

Dwarfed by centuries-old giants, biking through the Redwoods becomes otherworldly. Weaving your way through the ancient forests of the Redwoods, it’s hard not to pretend you are in Star Wars, riding through the forests of Endor. As the towering trees rise above you, you’ll be eye-to-eye with both the giant ferns and the massive trunks of these old-growth wonders. Biking in the Redwoods is a vacation experience of a lifetime; whether you decide to head down to the coast, or hit up one of the trails leading to huge trees, you’ll long to return here the second you leave. While seven bike trails are formally recognized, riding along Howland Hill Road or Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway gives you the best reward for your effort. Each area also has a few hiking trails to explore, getting you directly into the groves of towering beauties. Few things last as long as the Redwoods, but the memories you’ll make biking through the region have to
come close.

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