By now we’ve established that the best mode of transportation, if you’re into seeing the country, is a bicycle. So where to go to get some of that prime scenery? Here are five of the most beautiful multi-day bike rides in the country, from the Florida Keys to the Colorado Rockies.
San Juan Islands, Washington
The San Juan Islands, north of Seattle, are known for their quiet, rolling roads and beautiful views. You can take a ferry from Anacortes, on the mainland, and then ferry-hop between the four biggest islands — San Juan, Orcas, Lopez and Shaw — for free. Mt. Constitution, on Orcas Island, will give you the most expansive view, and there are plenty of sandy beaches to visit.
Depending on the time of year, you can see whales migrating in the Straits of Juan de Fuca. Limekiln State Park is a prime spot for whale watching, and you can camp there for free, too.
Route 100, Vermont
Route 100, which traverses Vermont from north to south, is one of the most scenic roads in the country. It’s winding and green and travels through mountains and farms. You’ll pass by classic Vermont landmarks, like the Ben & Jerry’s factory, and there are lots of good swimming holes to hit along the way. It’s at its most beautiful (and most crowded) in the fall.
Black Hills, South Dakota
South Dakota might not scream “bike friendly” unless you’re thinking about motorcycles, but the 109-mile Mickelson Trail, which runs from Deadwood to Edgemont through Black Hills National Forest, will take you by historical monuments, geological oddities and the culmination of both: Mount Rushmore.
The former railroad bed is relatively flat, which makes for easy, fun riding.
The Keys, Florida
From Key Largo to Key West, the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail parallels Route 1 and takes you over 37 bridges that connect the archipelago. You’ll get all the weird and wonderful parts of south Florida — wildlife, beaches, history — and you end up in Key West, so you have a built-in welcome party. Because of the prevailing wind, it’s much more pleasant to do the ride north to south instead of the other way around.
San Juan Huts, Colorado
Looking for an extended multi-day mountain bike trip? You can ride through the San Juan Huts system from Telluride, Colorado, to Moab, Utah. The 215-mile trip takes seven days, but it’s worth the time because it encompasses a wide variety of riding, from high alpine trails to desert slickrock.
If you don’t want to schlep food, the San Juan Huts will outfit you.