A couple of years ago, I had the good fortune to ride the US exploring sections of the TAT and fractions of the BDR’s here and there. And if I’m perfectly honest, US of A remains one of my favorite places in the world where I’d like to come back again – so much so that I may just go back to North America before I carry on riding Africa and Asia. From the incredible vast open spaces, vertigo-inducing canyons, and jaw-dropping rides in the Rocky Mountains to the way American riders welcome you like you’re their long-lost friend, from the crazy amount of dirt riding available to the way diner waitresses call you darlin’ and men in Wyoming and Montana tip their hats when saying hello, from the way an ocean of fog rolls over Cherohala Skyway in the Great Smoky Mountains and the way New York cabbies yell at you and your filthy dual sport with so much gusto you almost jump a red light just so they don’t run you over, from the rolling Great Plains and the snow-covered passes in the San Juans, the weird little communities like Oatman and abandoned ghost towns like Animas Forks, the music and the food, the crazy local stories and the genuine way locals seem to always be high on life, I love everything about America and I secretly envy local riders for being stuck there rather than in Europe – or anywhere else in the world, for that matter.
So while I have no doubt veteran ADV Rider inmates know a myriad of hidden gems in the States and there’s no shortage of route information and tips on the forum section, perhaps this list of my favorite rides in the US can be useful to new adventure riders or those are planning to ride the US once the pandemic is under control:
Burr Trail, Utah
While experiencing Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods in Arizona and Utah was an incredible ride, I felt that the Burr Trail topped it all. The entire Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument deserves at least a month or more to thoroughly explore, but for me, the Burr Trail between Boulder and Bullfrog was one of the most memorable rides in the US. While not technical or challenging, it’s still a dirt trail and it reveals some of Utah’s most spectacular scenery, and the best part is, there’s very little to no traffic on this road so you can have the entire place to yourself:
Shaffer and Potash Trails, Utah
Is Utah the adventure riding capital of the US? I thought so, because, after the stunning Burr Trail ride, we ended up in Moab doing the Shaffer Trail and the Potash Trail going over and down into the canyon. More challenging than the hard-packed Burr Trail with some sandy sections and a dry riverbed track here and there, Potash Trail took us through some beautiful scenery of the red rock canyons and views of the Colorado River bends.
Engineer Pass, Colorado
Oh my, Colorado. Home to the friendliest riders on planet Earth and two cutest towns in North America – Silverton and Ouray – and so much incredible off-road riding you could easily spend half a year having your fill of adventure, the San Juan mountain passes were the highlight of my entire US tour. It sure helped to be there with the West 38 Moto crew and get some dirt training in while riding those gorgeous mountain passes, but I have no doubt riding Colorado solo will be just as mind-blowing. My favorite was the Engineer Pass – it was still covered in snow, but the views throughout the entire ride were nothing short of breath-taking.
Canyon de Chelly, Arizona
Yes, the Grand Canyon was awe-inspiring, but Canyon de Chelly stole my heart. There’s something very special about that place and the lone red rock spire in the middle of the canyon; maybe it’s the local Navajo legends of gods living on the Spider Rock, maybe it’s the tranquility of the area as few tourists venture out here as opposed to busy crowds at the Grand Canyon, but for me, Canyon de Chelly looked like a place where long-forgotten gods may still indeed dwell.
It’s hard to pick out just a few places and routes, as my favorite rides in the US also included so much of New Mexico, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas, both Virginias and both Carolinas, Vermont, and Maine. Still, Utah, Arizona, and Colorado completely blew my mind, so if you can’t ride the Andes or the Himalayas right now, the Rockies rival them in both scenery and off-road trails.
What are your favorite rides in the US, and what shouldn’t foreign riders miss on their American adventure?