Your national parks are some of the most scenic places in the world. Why not explore them by bike and go on that adventure you crave, away from your office and the daily grind? Your parks look even better from the saddle of a bicycle, at a slower pace, and with fresh air and the sun warming your face instead of the glare of your computer screen.
Even better, you can do one of the following rides on Bike Your Park Day and National Public Lands Day, always the last weekend in September, which means national parks offer free admission that day — even for those entering the park by bike.
To spark your wanderlust, we’ve got five great bike rides through U.S. national parks, as well as opportunities to join a group and ride these parks on Bike Your Park Day.
Ride along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon car-free for seven miles one-way. This inclusive ride offers jaw-dropping views of the canyon with nine designated viewpoints. Ride out and back for 14 miles or turn around sooner. Either way, stop at Verkamp’s Visitor Center to view exhibits about one of the seven natural wonders of the world followed by a break at Bright Angel Bicycles & Mather Point Café for a postride espresso.
With 444 miles of scenic drive winding through three states, the opportunities on the Natchez Trace Parkway are endless. Ride along the parkway for a week and stay at bicycle-only campgrounds along the way. Or just hop on the Ridgeland Multi-Use Path that parallels the parkway for five miles for a traffic-free experience. It’s worth a stop at the Reservoir Overlook 3.5 miles from Ridgeland, Mississippi. Grab a picnic lunch or refreshing drink in town and ride to the overlook to rest and enjoy the view.
Ride all or part of the 45 miles of carriage roads in Acadia National Park car-free. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., financed the carriage roads for horses, hikers, cyclists, and cross-country skiers between 1913 and 1940. Local granite was used for the road material and wild blueberries and native ferns elegantly line the roads. Ride around Eagle Lake and take a respite from your bikes to hike Conners Nubble, a 3.5-mile out-and-back jaunt.
Urban parks count, too! Get around the mall at a quicker pace to allow yourself more time to stop and see the sights, including the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Vietnam War Memorial, and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. Don’t have a bike? No problem. Borrow one from the Capitol Bike Share and extend your ride to the Mount Vernon Trail or C&O Canal Towpath. Be sure to treat yourself to one of the many restaurants in the Washington D.C. area postride.
This northern California park is abundant with hydrothermal sites, scenic views, and high-elevation riding. Ride 28 miles one-way through this volcanic wonderland to the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center at 6,700 feet elevation. The road through Lassen Volcanic National Park isn’t as busy as other national parks and the road is in good condition. The climb is moderate, but you should still treat yourself to a panini at Lassen Café & Gift. Take it to go and soak in the view before gliding down the hill.
If none of these rides through national parks works for you, plan your own ride in parks and public lands.