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Family Bike Overnights: Bicycle Tourism in the Great Outdoors

By Michael McCoy


Tags: eco tourism, bicycle tourism, cycling, travel, Michael McCoy, Idaho,

South Dakota Family Overnight

In January 2011 Adventure Cycling Association launched a website initiative called BikeOvernights.org. Subtitled “Don’t wait to go cross country — go overnight,” the site is designed to provide inspiration, resources, and route ideas for short bicycle tours, generally just one or two nights out. Of the more than 175 destination stories that have posted at the site to date, a large share are tagged as "Family" rides. Some of the titles reveal their family orientation; e.g., “Four Days with an Almost 4-Year-Old,” “Little Elbow to Mount Romulus–A Girl’s Adventure with Grammy,” and “Hood Canal Loop: A Teen’s First Tour.” 

One of the attractive aspects of these rides is that for most folks, a quick bike overnight doesn’t require a lot of travel to get to the trailhead. In many cases, they can begin and end right at the front door. Consider these words from Elle Steele Bustamante, who wrote Our First-Ever Family Weekend of Wonderfulness

“On this, our first overnighter, we rode up to Beal’s Point on Folsom Lake, about 30 miles from Sacramento. It was the first time bike camping with our little ones. Amazing! It’s great to know that there are adventures so close to home. Really, picture a nearby campground. You probably wouldn’t ever think to camp there as, let’s face it, your own bed is much more comfortable. However, getting there by bike with all your gear strapped to the back—that’s wonderfully worthwhile.” 

Wonderfully worthwhile indeed. A bike overnight is the ideal introduction to bicycle travel for young and old alike. Visit www.BikeOvernights.org to read some of these inspiring stories, then share with a friend or family member! 

Or, for something a little longer, you might consider dipping your toes into the touring waters by joining one of Adventure Cycling’s special family tours: Family Fun, Erie Canal; Family Fun, Great Allegheny Passage; Family Fun, Idaho; or Family Fun, Minnesota–Paul Bunyan Trail. You can read all about them by clicking on this link.