We recently reported on a new bike-centric resort that was approved for construction outside Tucson, Arizona. The site is across from Saguaro National Park, which offers limited singletrack access for bikes passing through to ride the Arizona Trail, a bikepacking draw that winds through hundreds of miles of desert. That story had us wondering: How many national parks allow bikes on trails, anyway?

Back in 2012, the National Park Service instituted a rule change that allows individual park superintendents to designate biking routes as appropriate in areas under their jurisdiction, lifting a ban on bikes in most park areas. Officially designated wilderness areas are off-limits in any national park, as are places deemed too sensitive to stand up to bike usage.

“Bikes are a great way to exercise, get healthy and experience the great outdoors,” said Jon Jarvis, NPS Director at the time, in a statement. “This new rule gives park superintendents greater flexibility to determine where bikes can be allowed in a park and additional authority to shut areas where cycling is jeopardizing visitors or park resources.”

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Bikes on backcountry trails can already be a touchy subject; put those trails in national parks and there’s even more room for controversy. But many pro-biking groups had advocated for bikes on some national park trails.

The International Mountain Bicycling Association, or IMBA, had worked with the NPS since 2005 to improve access and were thrilled with the rule change, though they only advocate for biking on trails where bikes would not be destructive or intrusive. Local mountain biking groups have also been active to improve and increase access since the ban on bikes in parks was lifted, through trail maintenance, advocacy, and education.

IMBA put a list together of national parks units that allow bikes on trails—not just national parks, but NPS-owned properties like reserves, recreation areas, seashores, and historic trails, among other designations. The list, reproduced with IMBA’s permission below, is current as of August 2019, and we’ll update it periodically as we receive new information. These units allow mountain bikes on select dirt trails; inclusion on this list doesn’t mean you can ride a bike on every trail in, say, Crater Lake National Park, for example. But if you’re heading to a national park unit and want to know if you can ride the trails, consult the list below.

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NPS Units That Allow Mountain Biking on select Dirt Trails

Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail
Big Cypress National Preserve, FL
Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area, TN
Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas
Blue Ridge National Heritage Area
Bluestone National Scenic River
Chaco Culture National Historic Park, New Mexico
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Georgia
Chickasaw National Recreation Area, OK
City of Rocks National Reserve, Idaho
Civil War Defenses of Washington
Crater Lake National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, OH
Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve
Everglades National Park, Florida
First State National Monument
Fort Dupont Park, District of Columbia
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
Fort Pulaski National Monument
Golden Gate National Recreation Area, CA
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Great Basin, Nevada
Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, CO
Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, Idaho
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
Hot Springs NP, Arkansas (soon, not yet)
Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada
Lake Meredith National Recreation Area
Mammoth Caves National Park, Kentucky
Mesa Verde NP, Colorado
Mississippi National River and Recreation Area
New River Gorge National River
New River National River, West Virginia
North Country National Scenic Trail
Olympic National Park, Washington
Petroglyph National Monument, New Mexico
Point Reyes National Seashore, California
Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
Prince William Forest Park
Redwoods National Park, California
Saguaro National Park, Arizona
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, CA
Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan
Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail
Valles Caldera National Preserve
Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, CA
Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve, AK
Yellowstone National Park, WY

Top photo: Stage 7


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