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Mountain Biking at National Parks

Public Lands Initiative Campaign

Over the past few years IMBA has made great strides in our work to address the challeges for mountain bicyclists with the National Park Service (NPS). In 2005, IMBA and the NPS signed our first Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and then renewed it for an additional five years in 2010. These agreements are of great significance as they recognize mountain bicycling as a positive activity, compatiable with the values of our National Park system.

Both parties have seen the benefits of our MOU over the past six years. There are currently 45 units that now allow mountain biking on dirt trails and roads. NPS units have also recieved thousands of hours of volunteer support from IMBA Chapters, Clubs and National Mountain Bike Patrol along with numerous weekend visits from the Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crews.

In our pursuit of appropriate riding opportunities in National Parks, IMBA supported the NPS in their regulatory change that will streamline the process to open NPS trails and roads to cyclists.  We are continuing to work with the NPS to see this rule change executed.

Want to help IMBA's work with the NPS? Here are a few things you can do:

1. Reach Out. Make an appointment with National Park Service staff. Ask: What can our group do for your park? Bring info highlighting your club's activities and the volunteer services you offer.

2. Join the Local Friends Group. Most park units are supported by a group of local volunteers. Joining them will help you better understand the park's issues and challenges.

3. Volunteer. Adopt a trail or pitch in on park clean up days. Even if the project doesn't involve bicycling, it's an opportunity to build relationships with NPS staff and other trail user groups. Demonstrate that you know how to repair existing trail or build sustainable new trail.

4. Request a Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew Visit. Team up with your local park unit to jointly request an IMBA visit. These weekend events will train dozens of volunteers and inspire ongoing trailwork and positive relations.

5. Don't Ride Closed Trails. Whether it is to protect the environment or for rider safety, a closed road or trail is off limits for a reason. Riding closed trails is not only illegal; it gives mountain bikers a bad reputation.

6. Spread the Word. Become a park ambassador and publicly share park news, rules, and challenges. Be sure cyclists know where bikes are welcome.

7. Take Park Staff on a Ride. Build relationships with NPS staff by inviting them to club activities, trailwork sessions, or bike rides, even outside the park. Provide a bike and gear, offer riding tips, and show them some of your favorite trails.

8. Start a Mountain Bike Patrol. Patrols assist, educate and inform to help keep trails open and support the challenges of over-extended land managers.

NPS Units Where IMBA Currently has Campaigns:

  • Mammoth Cave National Park
  • Cuyahoga Valley National Park
  • Big Bend National Park
  • Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
  • New River Gorge National Recreation Area
  • Saguaro National Park
  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Franklin D Roosevelt National Historic Area
  • Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
For more information please contact:

About IMBA's Public Lands Initiative:

The Public Lands Initiative is IMBA's effort to better organize local cycling communities and the bike industy to rally around bike friendly policies and public lands protection. Read more about the PLI.

Please consider contributing to our important campaign efforts.

Share Your Stories!

Please use the comment section below to share your personal stories of great rides, personal achievement or even that epic crash on these trails.