A Bucket List for Bikers
The 25 Best Road Cycling Routes in America
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Jackson Hole Circuit, Wyoming
Why Go: With its profusion of singletrack radiating from town into the Gros Ventre Range, Jackson is better known for its mountain biking than its roadie culture. But the 48-mile-long valley of Jackson Hole, framed as it is by the saw-toothed Teton Range and the Gros Ventres, is a wonderfully dramatic setting for a road tour.
Road Notes: This circuit climbs steadily into Grand Teton National Park at the base of the Tetons, where it traces the shores of Jenny Lake and Jackson Lake. At Moran, it turns south and follows the Snake River back downhill toward Jackson through beautifully stark, wide-open terrain.
Distance: 75.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,262 feet
Starts From: Jackson, WY
The Fruit & Wine Byway, Colorado
Why Go: Not every ride in the Centennial State features lung-searing alpine climbs. On the Rockies’ Western Slope, where the Colorado River emerges from the Book Cliffs near Grand Junction, the little farming town of Palisade is a relative flatland of peach orchards, lavender gardens and, recently, an up-and-coming wine industry.
Road Notes: This laid-back route, which traces rural farm roads along the Colorado River, encourages our favorite kind of agritourism: wine tasting, as it passes more than half a dozen vineyards, and at least as many farm-fresh fruit stands. It’s no Napa, but with its lack of pretension and the dramatic backdrop of 11,000-foot Grand Mesa, it might just be better.
Distance: 24.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 884 feet
Starts From: Palisade, CO
Down Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona
Why Go: Perched on the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau, just beneath the San Francisco Peaks at 6,910 feet, Flagstaff is a mild-weathered, Ponderosa pine-studded outdoor wonderland. Immediately south of the city, though, you can roll down the Mogollon Rim — a 2,500-foot escarpment marking the edge of the plateau — via Oak Creek Canyon to Sedona’s otherworldly red rock desertscapes.
Road Notes: State Route 89 descends rather sharply into Oak Creek Canyon via a series of hairpin turns between miles 14 and 16. From there, the descent mellows, meandering through the narrow canyon alongside Oak Creek. This fast, mostly downhill ride leaves plenty of time to enjoy the canyon’s natural beauty on your way to Sedona. Cool off in a natural waterslide at Slide Rock State Park, or explore one of more than a dozen hikes.
Distance: 29.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 884 feet
Starts From: Flagstaff, AZ
Down the Delaware Coast, Delaware
Why Go: Diminutive Delaware may not have the kind of dramatic topography that characterizes most great cycling regions, but it does occupy some of the nation’s best oceanfront real estate. This ride takes in 38 beginner-friendly miles along its most famous Atlantic strands, from Rehoboth Beach (not coincidentally, home to Dogfish Head Brewery) down to Fenwick Island and back.
Road Notes: This route is dead-simple to follow: take Bicycle Route 1 south (ocean on your left) past white-sand beaches, boardwalks and dunes until you reach downtown Fenwick Island, then head back (with the ocean on your right). Bring a lock, and spend some time exploring the various beaches — in order, Rehoboth, Dewey, Delaware Seashore State Park, Bethany, Fenwick Island State Park and Fenwick Island — each of which has its own special character.