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desert dweller
Ventana El Ciclon
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We're not there yet. But this is a great step forward in accessing our National Parks. Below is the press release.

Matt


IMBA Signs Breakthrough Agreement with National Park Service


For Immediate Release
05-02-05
Contact: Pete Webber, IMBA communications director
[email protected]
303-545-9011

If you've ever tried to enjoy a National Park by mountain bike, chances are you've been disappointed. With some notable exceptions, America's premier park system is closed to off-road riding.

That's going to change with a new five-year agreement just signed by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) and the National Park Service. For the first time, National Park Service leaders in Washington, D.C., have formally recognized mountain biking as a positive activity, compatible with the values of our National Park system.

A benefit to millions of bicyclists is the potential opportunity for new access to hundreds of dirt roads in National Park units that have been closed to bicycling. While National Park Service rules require a lengthy process to open singletrack to bicycle use, appropriate dirt roads may be opened with a more straightforward administrative process.

"This agreement represents a true breakthrough for mountain biking," said IMBA Executive Director Mike Van Abel. "It opens the door for individual park units to partner with mountain bikers and investigate new riding opportunities on a case-by-case basis."

"The National Park Service is committed to increasing public awareness of outdoor recreational opportunities in the national park system that promote health and fitness," said Karen Taylor-Goodrich, the Associate Director for Visitor and Resource Protection."And mountain bicycling in authorized areas can be an excellent way to enjoy America's outdoor heritage in a manner that is compatible with resource protection."

As part of the agreement, IMBA and the Park Service will initially partner on two pilot projects to be selected later this year. The projects will bring mountain bikers and park officials together for on-the-ground teamwork

and serve as models for future collaboration.

Additionally, IMBA will provide technical and volunteer assistance to National Park units that are interested in improving their off-road cycling opportunities. IMBA programs such as the National Mountain Bike Patrol, Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew and the IMBA club network can now apply their stewardship skills to our National Parks.

Mountain biking can be a solution to many challenges facing National Parks today. Bicycling gets people out of their cars; away from congested roads, parking lots and trailheads; and out into the fresh air. Mountain biking can also encourage more active exploration of parks and counter the societal trend toward obesity.

So what does the future hold? While mountain bikers shouldn't expect a revolution of new singletrack in National Parks, the partnership signals an encouraging direction for the future. With enhanced communication and cooperation between IMBA and the National Park Service, mountain bikers can anticipate that cycling opportunities in National Park units will continue to improve.

The National Park Service manages 384 parks, monuments, battlefields, buildings and recreation areas and more than 80 million acres of U.S. public land. In 2004, National Parks hosted more than 276 million visitors.

In 2002, IMBA formed a partnership with the Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance program of the National Park Service. Rivers & Trails helps communities build trail and greenway systems, restore rivers and wildlife habitat, and preserve open space. Their work largely focuses on urban and suburban locations, where demand for trail networks is the greatest.

Visit IMBA's National Park Service Resource Page for the text of the agreement, speaking points, NPS parks with great riding, and other resources.
About IMBA:

Founded in 1988, the International Mountain Bicycling Association is a nonprofit educational association whose mission is to create, enhance and preserve trail opportunities for mountain bikers worldwide by encouraging low-impact riding, volunteer trailwork, cooperation among different trail user groups and innovative trail management solutions. IMBA's worldwide network is comprised of individual members, bicycle clubs, corporate partners and bicycle retailers.
 

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Tree Hugger
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mattbikeboy said:
For the first time, National Park Service leaders in Washington, D.C., have formally recognized mountain biking as a positive activity, compatible with the values of our National Park system.
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Hooray!!!! that is huge. Even if it's just dirt roads for now, it's a great change, and it's nice to see IMBA acheive such a major victory.
 

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I am lost, I'm no guide
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Interesting development! I'll be cautiously optimistic.
 

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Shaman
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That is the biggest advance in riding access in years!

Wow, I am stoked to hear that. There are some amazing dirt roads in our Parks system and hopefully in a few years a few singletracks will open up.

Everybody please join or rejoin IMBA!
 

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Dirt Roads?

I didn't know that bikes were not allowed on dirt roads already. Were motor vehicles allowed? I'm confused. What exactly does the NPS define as a dirt road. I'm used to a dirt road being an unimproved surface normally open to all traffic. Just a dumb old easterner, I suppose, but I've driven what certainly appeared to be dirt roads in some western lands and never gave it much thought that a bike could also not be on this road or am I missing something entirely.
 

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I am lost, I'm no guide
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The Department of Interior has different "parks"

Rev Bubba said:
I didn't know that bikes were not allowed on dirt roads already. Were motor vehicles allowed? I'm confused. What exactly does the NPS define as a dirt road. I'm used to a dirt road being an unimproved surface normally open to all traffic. Just a dumb old easterner, I suppose, but I've driven what certainly appeared to be dirt roads in some western lands and never gave it much thought that a bike could also not be on this road or am I missing something entirely.
THey have national parks, seashores, preserves and monuments (maybe more?)

Most preserves and monuments allow for uninproved dirt road driving (the Geology Tour Road in Joshua Tree in California comes to mind) on specific roads. However, "parks" do not allow for off road riding.
 

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Gets back to my question. What is off road?

I've been to many National Parks, Monuments, etc. Thinking back, except for some travel across the plains around Jewel Cave and Wind Cave NP, all the driving I did was on hardtop.

I suppose what I'm asking is were cars allowed on the dirt roads or were the roads in question open only to foot and horse traffic?

Thanks
 

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Freshly Fujified
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Thoughts on what this could mean

I would hope this means that in addition to fire roads and the like, some of the hiking/equestrian only trails might soon be opened up to mountain biking. That seems to be the spirit of the content of the announcement.

I happen to ride trails on land owned by NPS at Valley Forge National Historical Park. Some of the trails there are open to mountain biking, but there are also many nice single track runs which specifically have no biking signs on them. What I'm hoping for is that this relationship between IMBA and NPS will provide a means by which to open these trails up to MTBers. As with anything else, the success or failure of this will depend on the relationship that develops between the Park Managers themselves and IMBA reps, and the ability of IMBA and the bikers who utilize the trails to maintain the trail system, and prove that bikers, hikers and equestrians can share the land owned by NPS. This is a chance for us as a community to prove the naysayers wrong.

Just my thoughts.

Clyde
 

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paintbucket
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Rev Bubba said:
I've been to many National Parks, Monuments, etc. Thinking back, except for some travel across the plains around Jewel Cave and Wind Cave NP, all the driving I did was on hardtop.

I suppose what I'm asking is were cars allowed on the dirt roads or were the roads in question open only to foot and horse traffic?

Thanks
"4.30 Bicycles. (a) The use of a bicycle is prohibited except on park roads, in parking areas and on routes designated for bicycle use; provided, however, the superintendent may close any park road or parking area to bicycle use pursuant to the criteria and procedures of §§ 1.5 and 1.7 of this chapter. Routes may only be designated for bicycle use based on a written determination that such use is consistent with the protection of a park area's natural, scenic and aesthetic values, safety considerations and management objectives and will not disturb wildlife or park resources.

(b) Except for routes designated in developed areas and special use zones, routes designated for bicycle use shall be promulgated as special regulations.
"

What that means I think is that unless a road is specifically opened for bikes, they are not allowed. And since so much traffic in National Parks is of the RV variety I expect they routinely disallow bikes.

Doesn't really answer your question I don't think though, but mostly because the NPS rule to disallow bikes was always an arbitrary and nonsensical one to begin with.
 

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road usage?

I was at yellowstone national park camping when i was driving across the country and out of campground was a dirt maintenance road. I was dying to get some riding in so I hopped on my bike and started pedaling up the road. after abour 10 mins along comes a big green national parks truck, the driver informs me (very politely) that bikes are not allowed on the road. he didnt say why just that the road was restricted. I turned around and went back to the campground, and have just assumed that mtn bikes are not allowed on any roads due to the inevitable temptation that would occur (your an hr from the road beginning and you spot some sweet singletrack?). Either way, it was on that same trip that I was at glacier national park and saw three road bikers ridng up going to the sun road, pretty impressive...
 

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desert dweller
Ventana El Ciclon
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Bikes on Dirt Roads

I've been chased off dirt roads in the Yosemite valley as well. I can't imagine those ever being opened up though with the numbers of visiters each year. We found mountain bikes are the ideal transportation method in the valley -- gee imagine that. ;) Playing dumb has always been very effective in dealing with Mr Ranger Sir -- as long as you are just cruising around sight seeing (not shredding).

matt
 

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Don't remember the details, but some years ago there was a controversy about cycling on the dirt roads along the rim of the Grand Canyon. They weren't open, then the superintendent opened them, them somebody threatened a lawsuit and they were closed again, something like that...
 

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I'm confused

I'm still not clear what the IMBA decision means for riding in Nat'l Parks. I'm also not understanding what a couple people have eluded to about RVs being allowed on roads but not bikes - that doesn't make sense unless the road is very narrow and without shoulders. I think that is the case in Glacier, as you're only allowed to ride the road at certain times of the year. You're taking your life in your hands riding the paved roads in Yellowstone during tourist season too even though it is allowed.

I think Y-stone does have dirt roads that are off limits to everyone not just bikers. I suspect that was the case for the poster who mentioned being chased off. There are dirt roads in Y-stone that are rideable. You can get from Old Faithful to... well I forget the name but it's a pull-off near the Nez Perce Trail kiosk about 6 miles away on a dirt road.

If the decision is going to open up areas that truely wouldn't be impacted by bikes I'm all for it. I don't want to see bikes on trails (at least on many trails) in Y-stone or Glacier but that's just the backpacker in me talking. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.
 

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desert dweller
Ventana El Ciclon
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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Dirt Service roads

Clyde,
I think even more than IMBA will be the importance of the actual users and how positive the experience is for local land managers. IMBA is great at prying the door open, but it really comes down to us. If we act responsibly as a user group and don't create any major headaches for park managers -- the trail could start to open up. I personally don't think sweet single track experiences in our National Parks are going to be a reality. I think political pressures from groups like the Sierra Club will keep us on the dirt roads. Hey, that is okay. There are far too many walkers and hikers in many of our National Parks to make fast and fun singletrack rides possible. I do however love the idea of legally riding a bike out away from the crowds and having picnic with my family or swimming in a river or camping away from the crowds. My high school buddies and I (back in the 80s) used to spend a week every summer in Yosemite with our mountain bikes and ride everywhere --legal or not.

dir-T said:
I'm still not clear what the IMBA decision means for riding in Nat'l Parks. I'm also not understanding what a couple people have eluded to about RVs being allowed on roads but not bikes - that doesn't make sense unless the road is very narrow and without shoulders. I think that is the case in Glacier, as you're only allowed to ride the road at certain times of the year. You're taking your life in your hands riding the paved roads in Yellowstone during tourist season too even though it is allowed.

I think Y-stone does have dirt roads that are off limits to everyone not just bikers. I suspect that was the case for the poster who mentioned being chased off. There are dirt roads in Y-stone that are rideable. You can get from Old Faithful to... well I forget the name but it's a pull-off near the Nez Perce Trail kiosk about 6 miles away on a dirt road.

If the decision is going to open up areas that truely wouldn't be impacted by bikes I'm all for it. I don't want to see bikes on trails (at least on many trails) in Y-stone or Glacier but that's just the backpacker in me talking. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.
I think it could potentially open the service roads that are only open to walkers. Yosemite, where I used to camp and ride with my buddies, has some dirt roads with no motor vehicle traffic that could potentially be open to bicycles. It will depend on the number of pedestrians using the roads already. Again, to use Yosemite as an example may never be able to open anything up due to the congestion everywhere in the valley.

Sure, it's not singletrack, but it could allow us to ride bikes beyond the normal family and walking crowd. I don't know about you guys --- but I hate walking/hiking when I could ride a bike and get out beyond the walkers and day trippers ;)

matt
 

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climb
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If they can open up yellowstone to snowmobiles, I would think they could open up parks to bicycles. I would think that snowmobiles have a greater enviromental impact than bicycles. I think it would be cool to ride in the snowmobile tracks!!!

I would even be thrilled if they opened up the parks "off-season" September-May as a trial-run. I never go to the NPs because I can't recreate there :)... If they want my $ inspire me to go visit.
 

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Log off and go ride!
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An anecdote:

Lassen Volcanic NP in northern California was closed to all snowmobiles during the Winter -- even the main paved park road (which is closed and snow-covered from the first storm through June or so). After a hue and cry from local snowmobile clubs the NPS, as a trial, opened the main Park road, Hwy 89, one weekend a month to snowmobiles. The first open weekend the place was packed. Snowmobiles all over the road. The second open weekend saw fewer. Eventually over a couple of years several of the open weekends would go by without a single snowmobile. The NPS again closed the highway to snowmobiles and no one protested. It seems there were many more and better places to ride snowmobiles in the National Forest outside the Park.

I suspect the NPS lifting the MTB ban will be the same. There will be a flurry of use at first, then gradually dwindling as the 'forbidden fruit' novelty wears off. I have hiked and backpacked many trails in National Parks, and many of them are unsuitable for MTB's, or the ones that are easily ridable are not very interesting. There will always be few hardy souls that will venture on the trails, but the overall impact over time will be minimal. There are fewer crowds and traffic, and much more interesting things to see and do, on the other public lands where bikes are welcome.
 

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Wandervans
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National Parks usually have some of the best scenery

dave54 said:
I suspect the NPS lifting the MTB ban will be the same. There will be a flurry of use at first, then gradually dwindling as the 'forbidden fruit' novelty wears off. I have hiked and backpacked many trails in National Parks, and many of them are unsuitable for MTB's, or the ones that are easily ridable are not very interesting. There will always be few hardy souls that will venture on the trails, but the overall impact over time will be minimal. There are fewer crowds and traffic, and much more interesting things to see and do, on the other public lands where bikes are welcome.
I can't imagine getting bored with any national park, yes the crowds can be crazy at times but the crowds usually seem to stay near the paved roads. I can't tell you how many times I was wishing I was on my bike instead of walking in a national park. Imagine how cool it would be to ride your bike into the grand canyon, the enviros will fight it every step along the way, but it is cool to dream. Well no national parks in Idaho so this does not effect my local riding much.
 
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