14 Oct Stunning Landmark Bike Rides in the United States
The United States is known for an incredibly wide variety of landscapes and landmarks in urban and rural areas alike. Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a multi-month-long rider, bicycle touring is one of the best modes of transportation to explore any area; these landmarks are no exception.
Read on to learn about some of the best bicycle routes to explore some of the United States’ most famous landmarks and public lands.
Charming Urban Landmark Bicycle Routes
Visiting and exploring congested cities is made much easier when undertaken on a bicycle.
Chicago’s Greatest Hits Bicycle Tour
This two and a half-hour bicycle tour features Chicago’s most iconic landmarks. The tour is run by Bobby’s Bike Hike, the longest-running city bicycle tour company in the United States. The bicycle tour includes visits to icons such as the Museum Campus, Grant Park, and Millenium Park. Bobby’s Bike Hike will also take you to Soldier Field, the Adler Planetarium, Buckingham Fountain, Pritzker Pavilion, and Cloud Gate. Cloud Gate is the formal name for the monument known more colloquially as “the bean,” and is arguably the number one attraction in Chicago. Whether you’re a first-time guest of the Windy City or a returning visitor looking to learn more about their favorite city, this tour is as informative as it is entertaining.
Ride Across the Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco, California
Take in the sights of the San Francisco Bay area by taking a bike tour across the Golden Gate Bridge. Begin by riding along San Francisco’s gorgeous waterfront then head across the 1.5-mile-long Golden Gate Bridge. Once across the bridge, head down to the seaside town of Sausalito. The trip is about 11 miles total, and if you’re tired of biking you can take a breathtaking ferry ride back across the Bay. If a longer ride is more your style, add another 14 miles by heading to the equally-picturesque seaside town of Tiburon. The ride to Sausalito takes about 2 hours and the trip to Tiburon will take roughly 3.5 hours.
Alternatively, follow the span of San Francisco’s waterfront path to the Golden Gate Bridge and Land’s End, ending with a trip through the city’s bike-friendly Golden Gate Park. The waterfront path will have you travel a distance of 16 miles and takes between 3 and 4 hours.
Great Washington Bicycle Route
Washington, District of Columbia
Most people know Washington D.C. is full of monuments and memorials, but did you know you can visit many of them by bicycle? The city provides a bike map of accessible memorials so you can choose your favorites and plan your own route.
One route suggestion includes beginning at the capitol building and riding along the United States National Mall past the Washington Monument. From there, continue past both the World War II and Vietnam Memorials. Then continue to the Lincoln Memorial, Reflecting Pool, and Iwo Jima Memorial. Next head to the Arlington Memorial, taking time to check out the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Head to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial next, then on to the Tidal Basin, Jefferson Memorial, and the White House. End your trip at the beautiful Lafayette Park. The route is about 20 miles total in length
Willamette River Loop
Portland, Oregon is easily one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the United States. The Willamette River Loop traverses 30 miles along the Willamette River beginning in downtown Portland. The loop travels from Portland east across the river, before turning south to Milwaukie. From Milwaukie, continue south to Oregon City before crossing west back over the Willamette River and turning north to Lake Oswego. After passing through Lake Oswego, continue north back to downtown Portland. Find more detailed, turn-by-turn, instructions here. Highlights of the tour include Sellwood Park, Ames Park, George Rogers Park, Salmon Spring Fountain and stunning views of the Clackamas and Willamette Rivers.
The loop includes paved and natural surfaces on bike paths, bike lanes, and busy roads alike. Caution should be taken on all vehicular roadways.
Breathtaking Bicycle Tours Through Public Lands
Carriage Trails in Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park protects over 49,000 acres on the coast of Maine and experiences over 3 and a half million visitors. While national parks often have too many vehicles to safely travel the roads by bicycle, Acadia sports 45 miles of vehicle-less carriage roads. The trails allow cyclists to wind through the heart of the park on surfaces of crushed rock. These 10 car-free bike paths traverse scenic views of waterfalls, stone bridges, coastlines, and Somes Sound, the only fjord in North America.
Joshua Tree National Park
Though bike riding in Joshua Tree National Park is restricted to roads that allow vehicles, there are backcountry roads open for exploration that are relatively safe from heavy traffic. Bike along the dirt roads in Covington Flat to see some of the park’s iconic Joshua trees, junipers, and pinyon pines. Ride from Covington Flat to Eureka Peak and back for a relatively easy 7.2-mile ride that will give you views of Palm Springs, Morongo Basin, and the surrounding mountains. Though mostly flat, a mountain bike is recommended for riding the backroads in Joshua Tree National Park.
Everglades National Park
Though close to the bustling city of Miami, the Florida Everglades offer an escape to peace, tranquility, and wildlife viewing in a unique ecosystem. Encompassing more than 1.5 million acres, the Everglades comprise the largest piece of subtropical wilderness in the United States. Possible wildlife sightings in the everglades include manatees, otters, alligators, the elusive Florida panther, and over 300 species of birds.
Lying in the heart of the Everglades, Shark Valley scenic loop takes between 2 and 3 hours to complete. The paved path takes you through marshlands and wetlands, meandering among alligators who wade right along your route. Halfway along the loop, which is delineated by mile markers, be sure to stop at the observation tower to witness panoramic views of the surrounding wilderness and wildlife.
Grand Canyon Rim
The Grand Canyon is one of the best-known natural landmarks in the United States, the top tourist destination in the state of Arizona, and often touted as one of the “Seven Natural Wonders of the World.” The canyon covers over 1.2 million acres and has an average depth of 1 mile. The south rim of the Grand Canyon offers 13 miles of roads and greenway trails for intimate explorations of the canyon rim. If you get tired during your adventures, load your bike onto one of the park’s shuttle buses; there are bus stops every mile along the south rim. Bicycles are allowed on all paved and unpaved roads in this area.
Another option for bicycling along the rim of the Grand Canyon is the scenic Hermit Road, a 7-mile paved path closed to private vehicles.
Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park offers some of the most majestic scenery in the United States. There are two passes that cross the Rocky Mountains in Glacier. The taller of the two, Logan’s Pass, is traversed via the Going-to-the-Sun Road. This route travels along part of the Northern Tier, a 4200-mile coast-to-coast bicycle route. Logan’s Pass, and the road that takes you there, is incredibly busy and full of vehicles in the summer. So much so that between June 15th and Labor Day, bicyclists are only allowed on the road before 11 am and after 4 pm.
To best enjoy bicycling the Going-to-the-Sun Road, plan on cycling during the “Spring Hiker-Biker Season.” When park personnel begin to plow the pass each spring, roads are opened for a short time solely to bicyclists and hikers. This period of time allows traversing the pass without the hazard of passenger vehicles and congestion. To plan for the Hiker-Biker Season, visit Glacier’s Road Status Page for more information.
For best results, take the Going-to-the-Sun Road from West Glacier, over Logan’s Pass, to East Glacier. You then have the option to ride the Amtrak train, Empire Builder, back to West Glacier.
Viewing U.S. Landmarks By Bicycle
Whether you’re taking in the city sights or viewing some of the natural wonders of the world, there’s no better way to witness our national landmarks than by bicycle. Biking is not only a more environmentally-friendly mode of transportation, it also allows for a slower-paced exploration that allows you to take in the wonder and majesty of our nation’s landmarks in an utterly unique way.