Want to truly immerse yourself in the majesty of the western United States? Hop on a bike and pedal through an aromatic pine forest in Washington, feel the sea breeze on your face as you coast along the Oregon coast, or ride right into a California vineyard for a taste of wine country.
There’s perhaps no better mode of transportation than cycling to see top sights in the wide-open West while still traveling slow enough to appreciate uniquely local experiences. Whether your cycling skills and interests are tailored toward adrenaline-pumping mountain descents in Montana or a dawdling, toes-in-the sand beachside cruise in L.A., you should grab your bike, hire a rental, or book a tour to enjoy some of these western rides.
The Beach Cruiser
The Strand, Los Angeles
This is the true California Dreaming experience: pedaling along a flat bike path stretching about 25 miles from Redondo Beach to Malibu, showcasing the highlights of Southern California. Officially named the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, what locals call “The Strand” takes you past surfers and pro volleyball players in Manhattan Beach, the carnival-like Santa Monica Pier, the colorful collection of freaks and bodybuilders at Venice Beach, and can finish with a lazy sunset at Will Rodgers State Beach near Malibu or a bonfire at the long expanse of Dockweiler Beach. Bike rental shops, restaurants, cafes and bars line The Strand, providing plenty of entertaining detours.
The Health-Conscious Gourmand
Wine Country Bike Tour, Sonoma County, California
Literally drink in the scenery as you pedal between vineyards amidst the scenic rolling hills and flat winding backroads of Sonoma or Napa County. Join guided programs like Sonoma’s Getaway Adventures, which can supply picnic lunches, coordinate tasting reservations and pick up purchases—as well as imbibing bikers—along the route. Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley features a popular 25-mile out-and-back trek from Healdsburg passing four wineries, while motivated bikers can continue 25 miles farther into the Anderson Creek and Russian River Valleys via some steeper hill ascents—those riders’ staminas will be rewarded with sweeping wine country vistas (and more tastings!).
The Serene Bikepacker
Oregon Coast Trail, Oregon
For those looking for a premier multi-day bike tour, cycle part of the 375 miles along the Oregon coast. This spectacular oceanside ride overlooks pristine beaches topped with jagged cliffs and historic lighthouses on one side, and thick forests and friendly towns on the other. Biking-oriented campgrounds, inns, outfitters and shops along the way support “bikepackers” and day-trippers. The famed Three Capes segment traces 38 miles of quiet seaside backroads south of Tillamook, due west of Portland. For guided tours, Escape Adventures runs six-day trips down the coast and even offers e-bikes for those needing an extra boost.
The Adventurous Family
Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park, Issaquah, Washington
This is a perfect mountain bike playground set amidst towering pine trees in the forested hills east of Seattle. The 136-acre park has something for all levels and styles of riders, with two dozen trails graded from easy to advanced—built-in jumps and features range from kid-friendly to “that can’t be possible.” Six miles of cross-country, freeride and single-track terrain provide plenty of space and variety, but those seeking a challenge can take their knobby wheels on trails in hundreds of additional acres in adjacent Grant Ridge and Soaring Eagle Parks. Rent a ride at Issaquah’s Progression Cycleand ride it to the park.
The Adrenaline Enthusiast
Going to the Sun Road, Glacier National Park
This is an epic ride up, down, through and around some of the Montana park’s most majestic mountains with views (and climbs) that will leave you gasping for breath. At more than 50 miles long, with steep ascents and heart-palpitating downhills, this route is not for everyone. But for those who tackle the challenge, biking to the top of the Continental Divide at Logan Peak will make you feel you have truly earned the stunning vistas. Austin Adventures guided tours provide support vans, meals, advice and encouragement along the route.