Bikepacking combines the thrill of cycling with the adventure of backpacking, allowing you to explore the great outdoors on two wheels. You can cover more miles than on foot, and you have more room for gear, too. It's a great way to see a large section of country while still getting off the freeways and receiving a heavy dose of nature. This is especially true in the United States. The US is home to a laundry list of thrilling and iconic bikepacking routes, offering stunning landscapes, challenging terrain, and unforgettable experiences.
Whether you're an experienced bikepacker or a beginner looking for your next adventure, these five routes offer incredible journeys through wild stretches of North America. For each route, we offer a summary of the ride, including how many days it typically takes. Consider this a menu of trips. When you're ready to order, the resources included are great jumping off points for starting your internet deep dive on a specific location. Let's dive into the top bikepacking routes in the US.
ROUTE #1: THE OLYMPIC BRIDGES OVERNIGHTER (2 DAY TRIP)
Located in the Pacific Northwest, the Olympic Bridges Overnighter is a fantastic two-day bikepacking trip that takes you through the stunning Olympic National Park in Washington state. This route covers approximately 50 miles and offers a diverse range of terrains, from lush rainforests to awe-inspiring alpine vistas. Highlights of the journey include crossing iconic bridges, such as the Sol Duc River Bridge and the Quinault River Bridge, which provide photo-worthy views of the surrounding wilderness. With its well-maintained trails and scenic camping spots, this route is perfect for those seeking a short yet rewarding adventure.
ROUTE #2: THE QUEEN’S RANSOM (4-6 DAY TRIP)
For a longer and more challenging bikepacking experience, embark on the Queen’s Ransom route. Spanning 4 to 6 days, this trail starts in Durango, Colorado, takes you through the majestic Rocky Mountains, and ends in beautiful Moab, Utah. This iconic route covers approximately 200 miles, passing through some of the most renowned mountain biking destinations, including the famous Colorado Trail and the stunning desert landscapes of Moab (so if you're bikepacking on an MTB bike, this is a great route). Along the way, riders will be rewarded with views of snow-capped peaks and vast canyons. Some steep descents will get your blood flowing, too. The Queen’s Ransom offers a test of endurance and is sure to satisfy even the most seasoned bikepacking enthusiasts.
ROUTE #3: THE ARIZONA TRAIL (21 DAY TRIP)
For those seeking an epic and immersive bikepacking adventure, look no further than the Arizona Trail. Stretching over 800 miles from the Mexican border to the Utah state line, this 21-day journey showcases the rugged beauty of the American Southwest. The trail traverses diverse landscapes, from the Sonoran Desert to alpine forests and the iconic Grand Canyon. Riders will encounter challenging climbs, technical descents, and remote stretches that test their skills and resilience. Along the way, the Arizona Trail treats bikepackers to mesmerizing sunsets, unique wildlife sightings, and if you're riding in good company, the camaraderie of fellow adventurers. This route is not for the faint of heart, but the rewards are well worth the effort.
ROUTE #4: BAJA DIVIDE (42 DAY TRIP)
For a truly off-the-beaten-path bikepacking experience, set your sights on the Baja Divide in Mexico. This 1,700-mile route takes approximately 42 days to complete and showcases the rugged beauty of the Baja California Peninsula. Starting in San Diego, California, and ending in La Paz, Baja California Sur, riders will navigate through a diverse range of landscapes, including desert dunes, pristine beaches, and remote mountain ranges. The Baja Divide offers a unique cultural experience as well, allowing bikepackers to interact with local communities and savor authentic Mexican cuisine. This demanding and adventurous route promises an unforgettable journey through one of North America's most captivating regions.
ROUTE #5: TRANSAMERICA TRAIL (3 MONTHS)
The TransAmerica Trail is the quintessential cross-country bikepacking route, spanning over 4,200 miles from the coast of Oregon to the shores of Virginia. This iconic route takes you through a diverse range of American landscapes, from the rugged beauty of the Pacific Northwest to the rolling hills of the Midwest and the picturesque farmlands of the East Coast. Along the way, you'll pass through charming towns, historical landmarks, and detour-worthy national parks. The TransAmerica Trail offers a truly immersive journey, allowing you to witness the vastness and diversity of the United States, all while testing your physical and mental endurance.
Next Step: The Prep
Embarking on a bikepacking adventure is an exhilarating way to explore North America. From the Olympic Bridges Overnighter in Washington to the TransAmerica Trail spanning the country, each route offers a unique experience. Here's a tip, though: start small.
It's tempting to see an epic cross-country odyssey and want to start riding, like, now. But you'll want to get familiar with your gear, dial in your packing systems, and get in good shape before you start pedaling down the highway.
Like with any long-distance outdoor adventure, the separation is in the preparation. In other words, you'll want to map your route, get your gear, and have the journey well planned in advance of your departure. But often the inspiration comes first, so bookmark this page and pull it up when you're pitching your adventure buddies on an epic bikepacking adventure. Once you're committed, start the prep.
Whether you're a seasoned bikepacker looking for your next challenge or a beginner who's eager to explore, keep these five routes on your radar.
Which of these routes do you most want to do? Let us know on social media: @aclim8gear. And make sure to sign up for our email newsletter (sign up below) so you never miss a pro tip or trip report.
Dialing in your bikepacking gear? Check out The Ultimate Guide: How to Securely Mount Your COMBAR on a Bikepacking Bike.
Want more two-wheeled content? Check out Why You Should Never Go Dirt Biking Without a COMBAR.
Ready to up-level your camping setup? Check out How to Make Perfect Campfire Kindling Using your Basic Survival Tools.
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