In fact, some of America’s most iconic drives, like Route 100 Scenic Byway in Vermont to Maui’s Road to Hana, are best enjoyed at a slower pace. Central Vermont, Sonoma County, and Prince Edward Island are dream destinations for leisure cyclists looking for mellow riding paired with delicious food. Forget energy bars, you’ll fuel your rides with artisan cheeses, fresh seafood, and maple-sweetened treats. Serious cyclists looking for a challenge don’t have to fly to the Alps. Many pro cyclists make the climbs of Colorado and the Carolinas their training grounds. Mountain biking has seen massive growth in the last few years thanks to new trail networks and better gear. British Columbia and Moab remain internationally-recognized riding meccas, while Arkansas and Guatemala have emerged as the next great spots for gnarly terrain. Here, we share our top 10 destinations for road cycling and mountain biking, plus the experts who can show you the best routes and trails.
The Ozarks, Arkansas
Northwest Arkansas has the grandsons of Walmart founder Sam Walton to thank for its new status as a mountain biking paradise. In 2007, after getting hooked on riding, Tom and Steuart Walton invested $18 million into local trail-building infrastructure. As a result, the terrain is incomparable in terms of quality and diversity of trails. Slaughter Trail Guides offers half and full day rides; the Tour of the North is a favorite, going from the Missouri state line to Bentonville and ending with flow trails above the Crystal Bridges Museum.
The red-rock landscape of Moab is a mecca when it comes to mountain biking. Famous trails like Porcupine Rim and Sliprock are bucket list rides for experts, but there’s also plenty of intermediate-friendly trail systems, like North Klondike. Sacred Rides’ Ultimate Moab itinerary showcases the best of the area’s singletrack, challenging experienced riders with steep, descents and technical slickrock sections.
There’s no better place to work up an appetite than the pastoral and coastal roads of Sonoma County. DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co. offers a mellow, four-day Wine Country to the Bay itinerary that takes in the rugged headlands of the Pacific coast, ancient redwoods, and bucolic farmland. You’ll toast daily rides of 32 to 47 miles a day with local Pinots then indulge at night with Michelin-star meals.
Prince Edward Island, Canada
Best known as the setting of Anne of Green Gables, tiny Prince Edward Island is a dream destination for casual riders. Great Canadian Trails week-long, Tip to Tip and Beyond itinerary combines the car-free Confederation Trail, an abandoned rail trail, runs the length of the island, with detours along the smooth roads and scenic Gulf Shore pathways. The route passes the island’s greatest hits, including its red sandstone cliffs, towering sand dunes, and the province’s famous potato fields.
Maui’s wind and waves steal the spotlight from the island’s fantastic cycling. Skip the bumper to bumper traffic and navigate the iconic Road to Hana on two wheels with Donnie Arnaut, a former pro cyclist and owner of Maui Cyclery. For serious bragging rights, try summiting Haleakala in the saddle. The quad-burning ride climbs 10,000 feet in just over 36 miles with an average gradient of 5%.
The Kootenays, British Columbia
If you want thrills, the network of gnarly trails laid throughout the four mountain ranges of the Kootenays deliver. Don’t expect flat riding. The terrain here is all about long steep climbs, and super technical descents. Scared Rides’ 8-day, West Kooteny Roundup trip ticks all of the boxes for adrenaline junkies, most notably, the Seven Summits, a 5 to 7-hour long ride that covers 21 miles, climbs 15,000 feet, and drops more than 7,000 feet.
The Blue Ridge Mountains, the Carolinas
Former pro cyclist George Hincapie trained for the Tour de France on the epic climbs of the Blue Ridge Mountains. After retiring, he opened Domestique, a cycling-focused hotel in Travelers Rest, SC where weekend warriors can test their mettle on some of Hincapie’s favorite routes. The roads are car-free, the scenery is stunning, and climbs, like the six-mile ascent Caesar’s Head deliver a serious challenge.
Route 100 Scenic Byway consistently ranks as one of America’s prettiest stretches of roads, particularly in fall, when the foliage dramatically explodes with color. On a six-day Heart of New England trip with Great Bike Tours you’ll pedal by the area’s iconic covered bridges and rolling pastureland and refuel at charming general stores, farm stands, and cult microbreweries. Days can be adapted to be as challenging (66 hilly miles) or chill (24 flat miles) as you like.
Turquoise lakes, massive glaciers, towering waterfalls, and the occasional mountain goat and moose are highlights of cycling around Banff and Jasper National Parks. Smooth, low-traffic roads wind from Montana’s Glacier National Park across the Canadian Rockies. Bicycle Adventures offers an eight-day trip that starts by tackling Montana’s Going-to-the-Sun Road, one of America’s most popular single-day rides, and then traverses the evergreen-lined Bow Valley Parkway through Banff National Park and the stunning Icefields Parkway into Jasper.
Gunnison Valley, Colorado
Considered the birthplace of mountain biking, Colorado’s Gunnison Valley is home to endless miles of singletrack, including the famed 401 trail. The scenery couldn’t be more spectacular with wildflowers at their peak in July and the aspens all golden in autumn. Base yourself in Crested Butte at Scarp River Lodge, the flagship property of Eleven Experience, and let their expert guides lead you through easy or technical terrain that weave though old mining towns and mountain meadows.
Most mountain biking is pure wilderness, but Guatemala’s trails combine adventure and culture, flowing over Mayan footpaths and under jungle canopies. Old Town Outfitters, a pioneer of adventure travel in Guatemala, can arrange easy day rides to local coffee farms or multi-day expeditions like the Trans Maya, a 7-day technical ride across the Guatemalan highlands.