Tag Archives: Grand Canyon

The Top 10 Easy Scenic Bike Rides in America’s National Parks

by Richard Fox

Updated December, 2020

In honor of the U.S. National Parks’ free admission on various dates throughout the year, enCYCLEpedia presents its favorite parks to cycle in, all on easy and very scenic bike trails and routes.

For 2021 the dates are January 18: Martin Luther King Jr. Day; April 17, first day of National Park Week; August 4, One year anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act; August 25: National Park Service Birthday; September 25 National Public Lands Day; and November 11: Veterans Day.

Yacqui Point
Grand Canyon! Perhaps my favorite easy scenic bike ride is the 8-mile road along the rim from the village to Hermits Rest that is closed to most vehicle traffic during March – November. It’s more difficult if you’re not acclimated to the 7,000+ foot elevation, but a bike-carrying tram is available if you get tired. The views of the canyon are breathtaking from the road and the viewpoints en route. To the east of the village near the Visitors Center the Greenway Trail allows bikes on a segment along the rim to the trailhead for the Kaibab Trail, and you can continue on the closed road to Yaki point from there. This is an easier, shorter ride, but spectacular. Meanwhile, the Greenway Trail runs all through the developed portion of the park through the forest, connecting the two rides. While this used to be my private paradise, the Bright Angel Bicycles concession has opened it up to visitors from around the world, and there’s plenty of room for all.
Zion National Park, Utah. This is a great bike trail, but go when the main park scenic drive is closed to vehicles!
Zion National Park, Utah. Shown here is Pa’rus Trail that leads from the campgrounds and Visitors Center to the main scenic canyon road that is closed to most vehicles in peak season! A bike carrying tram can assist those who run out of steam, although it is mostly a gradual uphill out and downhill back.
Everglade National Park's 15-mile Shark Valley loop trail next to gators is an amazing adventure!  It's not as dangerous as it sounds.
Everglades National Park’s 15-mile Shark Valley loop trail next to gators, many of which are right next to the path, is an amazing adventure! It’s not as dangerous as it sounds.  Non cyclists can take the tram.  An elevated lookout mid-route gives you a view of just how many gators are surrounding you!
Yosemite has a great bike path system, crowded in places, but the perfect way to get around the valley.
Yosemite has a great bike path system, crowded in places, but the perfect way to get around the valley and access the trailheads.  Ride right from the valley’s campgrounds and lodges.
The old carriage road system in Maine's Acadia National Park is extensive and level, meandering through the forest.
The old carriage road system in Maine’s Acadia National Park is extensive and level, meandering through the forest past pretty lakes.
Bike are not allowed on Joshua Trees National Park's trails, but some uncrowded dirt roads, like Queens Valley Road are a lot of fun to explore.
Bikes are not allowed on Joshua Tree National Park’s trails, but some uncrowded dirt roads such as Queen Valley Road are a lot of fun to explore.  Combine it with some great short hikes nearby.
Up and coming, bike trails continue to be built in Grand Teton NP and to the town of Jackson.
Grand Teton NP is an up and coming cycling destination, as bike trails continue to be built in the park and to the town of Jackson.
Yellowstone National Park's main paved bike trail near Old Faithful is not all that long, but can be extended via dirt  paths to other areas.
Yellowstone National Park’s 2-mile paved bike trail near Old Faithful can be extended via dirt paths to other areas. Just watch out for grizzlies, cougars, wolves, bison, elk and boiling pools!.
Cactus Forest Trail in Tucson's Saguaro NP is a rare National Park dirt trail to allow bikes.  It's surrounded by a scenic paved loop road that completes the ride.
Cactus Forest Trail in Tucson’s Saguaro NP is a rare National Park dirt trail that allows bikes. It’s surrounded by a very scenic though hilly paved loop road that completes the ride.
Cycling Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is pure excitement with several ability levels of ride available - probably best done with an experienced tour company because of natural hazards. (photo courtesy bikevolcano.com).
Cycling Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is pure excitement with several ability levels of ride available – probably best done with an experienced tour company because of natural hazards. Contact the park first due to occasional closures (photo courtesy bikevolcano.com).

Grand Canyon South Rim – The Ultimate Easy-ish Scenic Bike Ride

By Richard Fox

Cycling Grand Canyon’s South Rim area used to be our little secret, but thanks to Bright Angel Bicycles rental bikes, there are now scores of cyclists along the roads and trails; most seemingly international visitors based on their languages.   Even with the added traffic it still is uncrowded, and the thrill of cycling with Grand Canyon views is unparalleled. West Rim Drive is closed to most vehicles (except handicapped, trams, and a few tour buses) during March – November, giving you an ultra wide and fabulous bike path that extends 7 miles from Grand Canyon Village west to Hermits Rest.  You can access all of the famous vista points that the tram stops at to offload bunches of tourists, but also have some awesome spots all to yourself along the route as well. If you get tired, hop on a bike-carrying tram at the designated stops.  Be warned that although it is an easy ride technically, there are some gradual grades, so if you’re not acclimated to the 7,000+ foot elevation, take it slow and easy or don’t attempt it if not in good physical condition. Also consider taking the tram up the first and steepest hill to the first stop. Or better yet, rent an e-bike.

Bikes are only allowed on a couple of sections of the paved Rim Trail, but not near any of the high-usage areas like between Grand Canyon Village and Mather Point. From the Village, the paved Greenway Trail that allows bikes weaves east through the forest, away from the rim and gradually uphill, reaching various features such as the two campgrounds’ (Trailer Village RV Park and Mather Campground) access roads, Market Plaza with its restaurants and grocery store, and ultimately the Visitors Center complex and bike rental facility.  After leaving the Visitors Center it reaches the rim for a spectacular treat of a couple of miles of amazing canyon vistas, ending at the trailhead for the Kaibab Trail. From there you can also pedal on the closed-to-most-cars road to Yacqui Point.

If you’re staying at the park campgrounds, you can take the Greenway Trail in either direction. The option of heading toward the Visitors Center and the Greenway rim trail that allows bikes just east of Mather Point is easy and very worthwhile. The other direction heads gradually downhill to Grand Canyon Village and the Hermit Rest road ride which requires more stamina.

For extra trail mileage, a new 6-mile path leads from the tourist village of Tusayan outside the park through the forest to the Visitors Center. It is mostly gravel, through the forest, and not the most wonderful experience.

Toward the west end of West Rim Drive there is an option to take the Greenway Trail that is a bit hillier but is closer to the rim.
Toward the west end of West Rim Drive there is an option to take the Greenway Trail that is a bit hillier but is closer to the rim.
Many dramatic opportunities await for a bite to eat!
Many dramatic opportunities await for a bite to eat!
West Rim Road runs through the pines and at times right along the rim, with access to all the scenic viewpoint.
West Rim Road runs through the pines and at times right along the rim, with access to all the scenic viewpoints.
A closed-to-cars road leads to Yacqui Point and connects to the east segment of the rim-side Greenway Trail that leads to the Visitors Center and Mather Point  -- at which point bikes are banned and the Greenway Trail continues away from the rim.
A closed-to-cars road leads to Yacqui Point and connects to the east segment of the rim-side Greenway Trail that leads to the Visitors Center and Mather Point — at which point bikes are banned and the Greenway Trail continues away from the rim.
Scenic cycling at its best - the flat rim-side Greenway Trail is open to bikes between the Visitors Center and the Kaibab Trailhead.
Scenic cycling at its best – the flat rim-side Greenway Trail is open to bikes between the Visitors Center and the Kaibab Trailhead.
The Grand Canyon trams are free and carry 3 bikes each.  You can use it to climb the first hill of West Rim  Drive, or shuttle between the most scenic areas.
The Grand Canyon trams are free and carry 3 bikes each. You can use it to climb the first hill of West Rim Drive, or shuttle between the most scenic areas.