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USA Must Visit Mountain Bike Destinations

Must Visit Mountain Bike Destinations

We have been traveling in our RV since the summer of 2017 exploring the best outdoor towns in the U.S.  This is our “best of” compilation of our favorite mountain bike towns that we’ve found along the way.  Some are well-known destinations, others are barely on the radar – but we feel they are all very worthy of the title.

In addition, we share our favorite trails in each town – for further trails details and route planning we recommend using TrailforksSingletracks and MTBProject.

Please comment below and let us know if we have missed any great towns!

Diclaimer:

This is a listing written by Julie Singh, which was originally available at www.tripoutside.com/best-mountain-bike-towns/. If you like the contents please give Julie your OKs 🙂


Moab, UT 

Pros Cons
More than just mountain biking Too hot in the summer
2 epic National Parks in close proximity Too many jeeps, depending on the time of year
Endless trails to choose from 3.2% beer
Some of the most scenic mountain bike trails on the planet Can be crowded during peak season & spring break

Must Ride Trails

  • Advanced/Intermediate
    • Whole Enchilada / Porcupine Rim
      • Shuttle recommended
      • The Whole Enchilada, or the shorter Porcupine Rim, are the most famous trails in Moab for a reason.  They are incredible!  But be ready for a full day in the saddle!
    • Mag 7 
      • Shuttle recommended
      • First 5 trails a blast, the last 2 are tough AF and super-advanced.   You should not try the Portal trail unless you are a very advanced rider as there are high-risk drop-offs. Check with the local shop if you’re considering this trail first and they’ll probably talk you out of it.
  • Intermediate / Beginner
    • Brand trails (Bar M)
      • Beginner-friendly options, no shuttle required
      • Some fun slickrock trails!
    • Klonzo trail system
      • Great cross-country and trail riding with slickrock
    • Klondike Bluffs
      • Ride by some dinosaur tracks!
      • Some technical riding options, and some slickrock trails
    • Navajo Rocks
      • Our favorite cross-country trail in Moab. If you’re a cross country rider that wants to get a workout and enjoy the slick rock riding of Moab, Navajo loop is for you.
      • Great all-around experience of Moab: views, slickrock, varied terrains – it has it all!
  • Beginner
    • Dead Horse State Park
      • Best for beginners or for family rides and provides gorgeous views of Dead Horse State Park and Canyonlands National Park.

moab mountain biking

Where to Rent Bikes

Moab is Best Known For

  • Mountain biking and outdoors mecca and some of the most scenic National Parks.

Where to Camp for Free in Moab

  • Willow Springs Rd
  • Dalton Wells Road
  • Lower Gemini Bridges

willow springs trail camping

Other Popular Outdoor Things to Do in Moab

  • Paddling the Colorado River
  • Visiting Arches National Park
  • Hiking and biking Dead Horse State Park
  • Visiting Canyonlands National Park
  • Rock climbing the red rock mountains

Best Time to Visit

  • Spring and Fall
    • September and October are the best months to visit if you want to ride the Whole Enchilada. It guarantees that the trail will be open and it won’t be too hot during the day.
    • March, April and early May are great riding months but you may not be able to ride the Whole Enchilada as it may be covered in snow at the top.
    • June – August are really hot months and riding hours will be limited, most of the riding will have to be early morning and/or late evening.

Hurricane / Virgin, UT

Pros Cons
Lots of trail riding options for all ability levels A big tourist destination, avoid peak times.
An easy to get to destination, only 2 hours from Las Vegas Near Zion NP, one of the busiest National Parks
Lots of free camping areas Very hot in the summer
Options to add on other activities

Must Ride Trails

  • Hurricane / LaVerkin trails (mostly Intermediate with Beginner options available)
    • Gooseberry Mesa – a 13-mile loop with rolling singletrack, incredible vistas and slickrock
    • Hurricane Rim Loop – IMBA Epic trail
    • Jem/Gould Loop
  • Wire Mesa Loop (Intermediate / Beginner friendly)
    • This was one of our favorite short loops, although it is only a green/blue trail, it is just so freaking fun! It’s built really well and provides incredible features to tackle and is surrounded by amazing views in all directions.
  • The Whole Guacamole (Intermediate to Advanced riders)
    • A more remote, 11-mile loop with 600 ft. of climbing but you will feel that you climbed 1500 ft. due to the rocky terrain.
    • To get to the top where the trailhead starts, you may want to have a high clearance vehicle and possibly require 4×4 if it has rained recently. The road is a gravel road leading up to the top but the last mile before you get to the trailhead can be sketchy and rutted out depending on how the recent weather has been.

Wire Mesa Mountain Biking Trail

Wire Mesa Trail

Hurricane/Virgin is Best Known For

  • Desert riding
  • Redbull Rampage takes place nearby in Virgin, UT

Where to Rent Bikes

  • Over the Edge Hurricane
  • Red Rock Bicycle Company

Where to Camp for Free

  • Hurricane Cliffs – if riding Gooseberry Mesa area
  • Dalton Wash Road – if riding The Whole Guacamole

Hurricane utah free camping

Sheep Bridge Road

Other Outdoor Activities

  • Paddling Quail Creek State Park
  • Canyoneering at Yankee Doodle Canyon (get a guide if you haven’t done it before)
  • Zion National Park
  • Hiking Kanarraville Falls

Best Time to Visit

  • The Hurricane area is one of the best destinations for the shoulder seasons. Spring and fall, even winter days can provide great riding during the day with the weather in the 50s in December and January.

Crested Butte, CO

Pros Cons
Mountain biking birthplace (arguably) High elevation riding, sits at 8900 ft
Over 700+ miles of trail Hard to get to, 4 hours from Denver. Lack of affordable nearby airports
Options to ride straight out of town You’ll hate your hometown trails afterward
It’s a mountain bike party, all the time
Downhill options at Mt. Crested Butte

Must Ride Trails

  • Close to town riding options:
    • Snodgrass (Intermediate)
      • Great trail to ride out of town and an intro to the area, it’s 7.3 miles out and back and provides a great idea of what riding in CB is like and has some beautiful overlooks of Mt. Crested Butte
    • 401 Trail (Intermediate to Advanced riders only)
      • High alpine riding, shuttle recommended if you’re not into climbing
      • One of the highest trails in the country that will take you to 11,335’ and a must do rides. It’s a 14-mile loop that is 60% singletrack after taking the dirt road up
      • Features alpine-style riding, leading into luscious green fields and aspens. You get it all with this ride!
  • Intermediate / Advanced local’s favorite rides
    • Doctors Park
      • If you’re up for a 14.5-mile climb for a gnarly 6-mile shred, this is your trail my enduro friend.
      • You can shuttle this ride if you still want all the shred but none of the grind
    • Teocalli Ridge
      • About 15 minutes outside of town
      • You climb 2,184 feet over 6.8 miles, some of it may be hike-a-bike. But when you’re on the top, get ready for one heck of a downhill!
    • Downhill park riding (Intermediate/Advanced)
      • Evolution Park at Mt. Crested Butte (downhill park)
      • Although it isn’t the biggest of the bike parks, it offers 30 miles of singletrack that can please most intermediate and even some beginner downhill riders. There are enough trails for the advanced downhill riders as well that you won’t be disappointed

Teocalli ridge trail crested butte

Teocalli Ridge Trail

Where to Rent Bikes

Where to Camp for Free

  • Washington Gulch Rd
  • Oh be Joyful Recreation area

 

washington gulch camping

Washington Gulch Rd

Crested Butte is Known For

  • High altitude riding in a great attitude town. Surrounded by gorgeous peaks in all directions
  • Crested Butte has been known for great skiing and snowboarding for quite some time, and is now on the map for one of the best mountain bike towns as well.

Other Outdoor Activities

  • Paddling rivers and alpine lakes
  • Maroon Bells hiking
  • Summer festivals
    • Crested butte bike week

Best Time to Visit

  • May through September
  • July is the best month for wildflowers if you to see the rocky-mountains in technicolor

Salida, CO

Pros Cons
Easy to get to from Colorado Springs High elevation riding
Great for multi-sport adventures Limited trails for beginners
Dispensaries and breweries

 

Must Ride Trails

  • Monarch Crest IMBA Epic trail: (Intermediate to Advanced riders only)
    • You’ll need a shuttle for this one and start early. It’s a 36.2-mile point to point ride that will descend 5,890 feet, starting at the elevation of 11,962’!
    • Shuttles available from High Valley Bike Shuttle
  • Cottonwood Tour (Intermediate)
    • 1-mile ride that can be broken into smaller sections with options for all riders
    • Ride out of town, shuttle recommended if you’re not into climbing. The beginning of the ride is a 8-mile road climb to the trailhead.
  • Methodist Mountain (Great for beginners and intermediate riders)
    • A short but great trail system that has trails that are perfect for beginners and families that don’t want to take on the challenging rides and still have a blast!

Monarch Crest Trail

Monarch Crest Trail

Where to Rent Bikes

Where to Camp for Free

  • Shavano Wildlife Management area

Mt. Shavano camping

Mt. Shavano camping

Salida is Best Known For

  • The mind-blowing trails surrounding Salida really put this mountain bike town on the map.  Monarch crest trail IMBA epic is one of Colorado’s classic mountain bike rides (which makes it one of the U.S.’s classic mountain bike rides)
  • Arkansas River rafting
  • Basecamp for climbing 14ers

Other Outdoor Activities

  • Rafting the Arkansas river
  • Climb 14ers – Mt. Shavano, Mt. Yale are the closest. This area offers one of the highest density of peaks over 14000 ft.
  • Visit Princeton Hot Springs for a soak after all of your outdoor adventures.

Best Time to Visit

  • June – October. Err on the later side if you want to ride the Monarch Crest trail to make sure it is clear of snow. In some years, it is not clear of snow until mid-July

Duluth, MN

Pros Cons
A hidden gem in the Midwest Short season
Rated #1 outdoor town by Outside Magazine Mosquitoes in the summer
Miles of epic riding right out of town No free camping, BLM or National Forest options
Lots of technical trail options
Lake Superior!!!

Must Ride Trails

  • There are 78 miles of riding in Duluth, MN and the tough hardy MN folks ride all year long, even through the brutal winters thanks to fat bikes
  • The Duluth Traverse (all levels) is a 42-mile point to point featured ride that is 75% singletrack that rides all the way across town with multiple bailout options for riding just a few sections
  • Spirit Mountain downhill trails (Intermediate/Advanced) are Duluth’s only lift-serviced trails.  The trails are short, but fun!

Duluth mountain biking

Duluth is Best Known For

  • Breweries, Minnesota nice community, plaid shirts, and the North Woods.
  • Duluth is a relative newcomer on the best mountain bike town list, but the city is expanding trails rapidly and this Midwest town is making a name for itself within the mountain bike community!

Where to Rent Bikes

  • There is pretty much only one great mountain bike rental shop in town, Continental Bikes.

Where to Camp for Free

  • Unfortunately, there aren’t any free camping areas right in Duluth, but it is Minnesota nice. Check out Boondockers Welcome, it’s like couch surfing for your RV in hosts’ driveways. Requires an annual membership fee but it’s free to camp

Other Outdoor Activities

Best Time to Visit

  • Summer is a perfect time of the year but BRING BUG SPRAY. The MN mosquitoes don’t eff around..

Northern California: Downieville, North Tahoe, and Truckee CA

Pros Cons
Multi-sport options available California gas prices
Other close by towns with epic riding Lack of great free camping
Make it a road trip, so many options Tahoe very busy in the summer
Close to SFO and Reno for fly-in & out options
Downhill options at Northstar Resort

Must Ride Trails

  • Truckee, CA (Options for all capabilities)
    • The Hush Hush Ones: Stop by our favorite bike shop Cycle Path in Truckee, CA and ask them to tell you about the super-secret, super awesome local rides. That all we will say for this area 😉 Cough Cough, Yogi Bear
  • The Flume Trail (Intermediate to Advanced)
    • An obvious pick, but popular for a reason. The rim trail offers incredible views of Lake Tahoe
  • Downieville Classic (Intermediate to Advanced)
    • This renowned 14 mi. shuttle ride features northern California’s classic Sierra mountains riding

downieville mountain biking

Downieville riding

Truckee / Tahoe Best Known For

  • Views of Lake Tahoe, paddling on the lake and the IMBA Epic Tahoe Rim Trail
  • Downieville Classic bike race

Where to Rent Bikes

Where to Camp for Free

  • In Truckee: Sagehen campground, it’s free but it’s a bit far and no cell service. Also, lack of bike trails to ride right from the trail system
  • In Tahoe area: Limited options of free camping right near the trail system
  • In Downieville: Ramshorn campground (Forest Service campground, $20-25/night) is one of the closest to town (5.6 miles) and is located right on the river

Downieville Camping Options

Other Outdoor Activities

  • Paddling Lake Tahoe, umm, of course, you have to!  This crystal clear lake is on the top of everyone’s paddling list
  • Hiking around Lake Tahoe, if you’re out of trails to ride. So, after you’ve been there for 5-6 months or if the bike is in the shop.  Or if you have family/friends with that don’t ride

Best Time to Visit

  • Skip the summer crowds and go in the shoulder seasons. The weather is amazing in September and there are half the crowds
  • If you’re looking to ride higher elevation trails such as the Flume trail or Downieville classic, skip the springtime and planning on hitting these trails late summer or fall to make sure they’re open

Mammoth Lakes, CA

Pros Cons
Post-ride hot springs Limited bike rental options
Downhill park riding Short season on higher elevation riding
Free camping, oh.. by hot springs Starbucks

 

Must Ride Trails

  • Intermediate to advanced – Double high five Y
  • Intermediate and beginner-friendly – Uptown Downtown
  • Chairlift access and something for everyone – Mammoth mountain bike park

 

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Mammoth Lakes is Best Known For

  • Closest big mountain to LA area. One of the most scenic drives and areas in the country (highway 395)
  • In addition to being a top mountain bike town, Mammoth is also known for its phenomenal winter skiing and snowboarding.

Where to Rent Bikes

  • There are very limited ‘’good’’ options for bike rental. Mammoth mountain is your best bet, Footloose Sports also has pricey but high-end bikes, no online booking.

Where to Camp for Free 

  • Off of Hot Creek Hatchery Spur Rd
  • Glass Creek Campground

Mammoth CA camping

Other Outdoor Activities

  • Soak in natural hot springs
  • Visit Convict Lake, at sunset…. And then tag us in your IG because we want to see it again!
  • Day trip to Yosemite National Park (hiking and climbing galore)
  • Skiing/snowboarding at Mammoth Mountain in winter

Best Time to Visit

  • Summer to October
  • Winter for great skiing/snowboarding

Sedona, AZ

Pros Cons
Easy to get to from Phoenix Too hot for summer riding
Shoulder season mecca Lack of fun post riding spots and lack of nightlife
Lots of trail options Very touristy, think pink jeep tours. Just pass them while you bike and wave
Lots of trails for the advanced to the expert rider to test out their skills

 

Must Ride Trails

  • So many incredible trails – mainly Intermediate/Advanced, but some beginner-friendly options exist
  • Check out 6 best intermediate rides in Sedona article

sedona mountain biking

Sedona is Best Known For

  • Off-season riding. When it’s too cold for the rest of the country, head down to Sedona.  Sedona is probably the best known mountain bike town in Arizona… for good reason.

Where to Rent Bikes

Where to Camp for Free

  • There are a lot of options for free camping, we camped off the main drag 525 which was slightly busy, but gave us quick access to town and getting to trails
  • Road 525 (or Loy Butte Rd) can be busy, but make sure you stick to one of the established parking/camping spots and don’t just forge your own spot in the desert

 

Sedona free camping 525

Other Outdoor Activities

  • Jeep tours/off-roading, pass them and wave on your bike ride 🙂
  • Yoga retreats and hiking to healing vortexes

Best Time to Visit

  • Spring and fall are the best times to visit, it’s very hot in the summer
  • Winter can be a great time to ride too, temps are usually in the 50s in Dec/Jan and up to the 60s by February – it’s also the best time to save money on hotels and other accommodation

Wydaho – Victor and Driggs, ID + Alta, Wyoming

Pros Cons
Remote, wilderness riding experience (not in the wilderness) You’ll want to move to Idaho
Chairlift options available at Grand Targhee A hard to get to destination
Close to some of the best National Parks in the country Riding in grizzly country, carry bear spray, please.

Must Ride Trails

  • Grand Targhee trails – (All skill levels)
    • Lift serviced downhill runs plus great cross-country trails in Alta, WY on the west side of the Tetons
    • Ride: all of them. For a great XC ride, get to 38 special and ride it up to Peaked and come back down. The views up 38 special are pretty dang magnificent
    • Chairlift access, trails for all ability levels and lots of XC riding options
  • Phillips Ridge to Phillips Canyon loop (Intermediate to Advanced riders only)
    • This is a gnarly loop that offers gorgeous views in the Victor/Wilson area. A nice long climb ascending 2300’ with some technical descending areas thrown in.
  • Horseshoe Canyon trails in Driggs (Intermediate)
    • Flowy trails in the Big Hole mountains to the west of Driggs

Driggs idaho mountain biking

Horseshoe Canyon trails

Wydaho is Best Known For

  • These towns that straddle the border of Wyoming and Idaho are some of the best mountain bike towns around.
  • Remote riding that is easily accessible but please do know that you’re in grizzly country, check out this article to make sure you’re prepared and aware

Where to Rent Bikes

  • On the mountain – Grand Targhee at the Habitat Bike Shop

Where to Camp for Free

  • Grand Targhee Resort – It’s not free, it’s $20 to camp in their lot, but it’s ride in/ride out!  We recommend calling ahead to make a reservation.
  • The Big Eddie Campground
    • Free campground on the Teton River outside of Driggs
    • If you camp here, consider riding the Horse Shoe area trails if you have ridden all the other great stuff
    • This is a prime moose habitat, respect their space and enjoy these majestic animals

Grand Targhee Camping

Grand Targhee camping

Other Outdoor Activities

  • Visit Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park
  • Paddling the Teton River
  • Hiking the Tabletop mountain, it’s an incredible hike that gets you close to the Tetons from the backside
  • Skiing/snowboarding at Targhee in winter is unbelievable!
  • Best time to visit:
    • June to late-September (check snow conditions at Targhee if riding in May)

Sun Valley / Ketchum, ID

Pros Cons
Lots of free camping options You’ll want to move to Idaho
Off the beaten path Your family will never come to visit you because they think Idaho is just potatoes
Many miles of incredible riding in Sun Valley
Lift serviced trails at Sun Valley resort
The views…

Must Ride Trails

  • Bald Mountain DH park (Intermediate to advanced)
    • Chairlift access
  • Adams Gulch (Options range beginner to intermediate/advanced)
    • Can ride straight out from town
  • See our Sun Valley Mountain Bike Trail Guide
  • Other Sun Valley considerations:
    • If you have time, head up to Galena Lodge and ride the Galena Grinder IMBA epic system there, it’s amazing! Lots of flowy trails and some backcountry feel options as well
    • If you have even more time, head further up to Stanley, ID. Ohh, and hit Fisher Creek Loop on the way

Sun Valley Mountain Biking

Adams Gulch Trail

Sun Valley / Ketchum is Best Known For

  • Remote trails with few people
  • Sun Valley mountain resort
  • Great rafting, hiking, hot springs, and more biking just north in Stanley, Idaho

Where to Rent Bikes

Where to Camp for Free

  • Were do we begin… there are so many options:
    • Lake Creek Road – closest to town and unbeatable scenery: farther up the road is 16-day free camping
    • Trail Creek Rd
    • Warm Springs Canyon

TripOutside Sun Valley

Other Outdoor Activities

  • Paddling Redfish Lake – it’s touristy but worth it
  • Rafting the Salmon River in Stanley, ID
  • Hiking options abound in the wilderness surrounding Ketchum

Bellingham, WA

Pros Cons
One mountain, all the trails that you need ”Perfect” riding season is short
Great PNW riding conditions in the summer Wet most of the year
Visiting PNW bike brands like Kona and Transition that let you rent a bike for the day! Lack of free camping options

 

Must Ride Trails

  • Galbraith Mountain
    • All of the trails. Yes… all of them! They are incredible.  Mostly Intermediate/Advanced trails

Rent mountain bike Bellingham, WA

Galbraith mountain

Bellingham is Best Known For

  • Technical features built into the awesome PNW dirt. Lots of ladder bridges, rock drops, but enough trail for anyone to enjoy regardless of rider ability. Best suited for intermediate for advanced riders however.

Where to Rent Bikes

  • Transition Bikes – the company headquarters. Go visit them and tell Blake we said hello. The whole crew here is awesome, you get to ride their latest bikes and the money goes to local trail systems.

Where to Camp

  • The Dollar Lot just outside of Galbraith Mtn.  Find out if you can still camp here before you show up with your rig (we heard it may have changed recently). It’s at the base of the Galbraith mountain and when we visited, it was $10/night and there is nothing better than riding out of camp to hit the Galbraith trails. If you get in trouble, we didn’t tell you about this.

Dollar Lot Galbraith Mountain

The Dollar Lot

Other Outdoor Activities

  • Sea kayaking around Marine Park
  • Visit Canada, heck, you’re close enough to Vancouver and even Whistler!

Bend, OR

Pros Cons
Ride right out of town More city than a town
Camp right off the trail network Trails can be dusty without the right moisture, high desert conditions
Downhill options at Mt. Bachelor
Breweries and awesome food options

Must Ride Trails

  • Phils Trail System
    • So much to choose from here, for all levels – beginner to advanced
  • Our Bend Mountain Bike Trail Guide details all of our favorite rides!

bend mountain biking

Mrazek Trail

Where to Camp for Free

  • Forest Road 300 Deschutes National Forest – you are camped practically on top of the mountain bike trails – Ride on/ Ride off!

Bend free camping

Checking post ride Strava stats

Where to Rent Bikes

Bend is Best Known For

  • Although it is not as small as some of the other towns on our list and could technically be on a ‘city’ list, (it does have a Whole Foods after all), Bend is one of the most outdoorsy towns in the country. In addition to hundreds of miles of fantastic riding close to town, Bend has tons of great microbreweries, restaurants and the Deschutes River running right through town.

Other Outdoor Activities


North Georgia: Ellijay, GA / Blue Ridge, GA / Dahlonega, GA

Pros Cons
Much less crowded than popular trails out west Hot and humid summers
Some of the best XC trails in the country. Yes, we said it Limited free camping options
Long riding season, anytime from March to November or early December Slippery when wet and can be wet often. Lots of roots and rocks

Must Ride Trails

  • Ellijay, GA
    • Pinhoti 1, 2 and 3: Intermediate riding through classic north Georgia scenery
  • Blue Ridge, GA
    • Aska trail system: 17 miles of more great intermediate/advanced riding with up to 3200 feet of climbing (that’s a lot for Georgia!)
      • Green Mountain Loop or Flat creek loop – fantastic Intermediate trail options at Aska
      • Stanley Gap – Advanced
        • This is a tough climb that doesn’t give any breaks until you’re at the top, which makes for an incredibly rewarding downhill as well
  • Dahlonega, GA
    • Bull and Jake Mountain IMBA Epic – Intermediate trails with great flow, scenic vistas over the north Georgia mountains and ripping downhills

Bull mountain trails

Bull Mountain trails

North Georgia is Best Known For

  • These are the best mountain bike towns in North Georgia, and are easy 2-3 hour drives from the capital of Atlanta.  They feature great cross country and trail riding, lots of roots and rocks, stream crossings and beautiful dense forests. Be prepared for humid summers!

Where to Rent Bikes

  • Cartecay Bikes in Ellijay

Where to Camp

  • Ellijay: Mulberry gap is your best bet. It caters to mountain bikers camping, is right near the trail network, and you’ll be surrounded by riders!
  • Blue Ridge: Morgantown Point Campground
  • Dahlonega: Jake Mountain parking lot (free!) has a few camping spots, not in the main parking, take the road to the right of the parking lot

Jake mountain camping

Other Outdoor Activities

  • Whitewater rafting at the Ocoee River
  • Paddling Lake Blue Ridge
  • Incredible hiking – especially when the leaves change in the fall!

Best Time to Visit

  • Spring and fall are perfect in the South. Summer is hot, but the trails are very shaded so if you are used to the heat, it’s manageable.  The fall colors in the southeast are a big attraction but know that pine needles and leaves can make the trails slippery at times. But you got this!

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