Top Ten National Parks for Biking

Rocky Mountain National Park
Losing your breath at high elevations is a small price to pay for breathtaking scenery. On your next bike trip, explore the rarefied air of Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park , where you can get high on the Rockies (of course), as well as 650 miles worth of the Continental Divide, and the highest continually paved road in the United States, Trail Ridge Road .

At least 60 mountains in the park exceed 12,000 feet—the football field-size summit of Longs Peak is the highest at 14,255 feet—and more than 100 square miles of the park rise above timberline. Once you stop to survey the glacier-carved scene of peaks and valleys, evergreens and wildflowers, you'll forget all about the burning in your legs and lungs.

On the Road

If you like to climb, check out Bear Lake Road—this 20-mile out-and-back ascends 1,500 feet in just eight miles. If that's not enough of a workout for you, challenge your quads on one of the many hiking trails that fork off the road.

Narrow, winding, and mostly uphill, Bear Lake Road takes you on a tour of the park's most picturesque scenery: The road passes through Moraine Park, flanked by mountains and glacial deposits, and it follows the cascade of Glacier Creek among aspen, fir, and lodgepole pine trees. The best views await you at Bear Lake, elevation 9,475 feet. Gaze upward over Technicolor-blue lakes to the Continental Divide, where Hallett Peak (12,713 feet) and Flattop Mountain (12,324 feet) rise among the giants. Many peaks still bear glaciers, kin to the carvers of the region's valleys and ridges.

Note: Since the road is narrow and the park is popular, get an early start or go late in the day to avoid the heaviest traffic.

Published: 7 Dec 2009 | Last Updated: 31 Jul 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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