March 29, 2023 5 min read

A bike parked outside a camping tent

Car camping is an awesome way to get close to nature that provides you with the luxury of bringing all the equipment you need for a comfortable and fun trip. For instance, if you’re a mountain biking enthusiast, you can pack your cycling gear and take it with you to combine two exciting activities together. Read on to find out how to get ready for such an adventure and how to get the most out of it!

Camping Adventure with Your Bike: How to Get Ready

To ensure the best camping and mountain biking experience, it’s crucial to invest some time into preparation. Here’s what you have to do:

1. Pack Wisely

In addition to the items from your regular car camping checklist, you will also need to bring the following gear:

  • Mountain bike
  • Bike tool kit
  • Bike air pump
  • Fix-a-flat supplies
  • Spare parts
  • Hydration pack
  • Helmet
  • Gloves
  • Bike shoes
  • Cycling rain cape

And, of course, don’t forget to bring some snacks and plenty of water!

2. Select a Campground

The perfect spot for an overnight stay would be a campground located next to the biking trails you’re interested in. Opting for this option would provide you with more security when you go on a cycling adventure and leave some of your personal belongings at the camp.

If no such campground is available, you can also settle right next to the bike trail you’re planning to explore. Otherwise, you can just opt for the most scenic site where parking is allowed and stay there, especially if you’re planning just a short trip.

3. Set Up a Base

One of the best ways to get a good night’s sleep when you go on your mountain biking and camping trip is by sleeping in a rooftop tent. Not only does it help you to free up some space in the trunk for your foldable bike, but it also provides you with peace of mind when it comes to parking space and wildlife.

Top 7 Campgrounds Located Near Bike Trails

After the preparation and setup are complete, you’re all set to explore the bike trails. Here are our top picks of great campgrounds located near mountain bike trails that you are sure to love:

1.     Grand View Campground - Ashton, Idaho

A scenic view of the Mesa Falls

Grand ViewCampground in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest in southeast Idaho boasts 8 excellent camping spots and is conveniently located next to the stunning Mesa Falls.

The scenic Mesa Falls Scenic Byway has 17 miles of groomed mountain biking trails. Explore it in summer, or bring a fat bike to cycle there in winter. In average conditions, it will take you approximately three hours to see both cascade waterfalls - the Upper and Lower Mesa Falls. Thus, the entire way, including the return trip to your car, would likely take six hours.

2. Thomas Canyon Campground - Wells, Nevada

A view of Lamoille Canyon on a sunny day

The Thomas CanyonCampground, located in the picturesque Lamoille Canyon north of Elko, is the ultimate location for a biking and camping trip.

Explore the Ruby Mountains, enjoy the spectacular rivers and ponds, and witness the wildflower-filled grasslands as you hike or cycle the Ruby Crest Trail. Note that this route is meant for advanced hikers and cyclists due to the elevation.

3. Jenny Jump State Forest - Hope, New Jersey

A view from the top of Jenny Jump Mountain

Jenny Jump State Forest is located in Warren County, on the picturesque Jenny Jump Mountain Range. In total, there are 22 camping sites available on its territory, each with a campfire pit and dining tables. However, this place is great not only for connecting with nature at the campground but also for going on a cycling adventure.

If you decide to explore the park by bike or by going on a hike, be prepared for an approximately 6-mile round trip during which you’ll get a gorgeous view of the mountains and the picturesque Ghost Lake. Besides, if you’re a fishing or hunting enthusiast, you might want to bring some gear on this trip, as these activities are allowed in designated areas.

4. Cades Cove Campground - Gatlinburg, Tennessee

A beautiful sunset as seen from the Great Smoky Mountains

Auto touring, mountain biking, hiking, fishing, hiking, horse riding, and picnics are just a few of the outdoor activities available at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Taking up over 800 square miles, it’s one of the most visited national parks in the US, so it’s best to plan a longer camping adventure when coming here.

The Cades CoveCampground has 159 vehicle-friendly camping spots in a beautiful setting. The campground has plenty of facilities, including a store, drinkable water, flush toilets, and a dumping station.

5. Juniper Flats Group Campground - Grand Island, Michigan

Ice formed at the entrance of a cave at Grand Island

Juniper Flats GroupCampground is among the few camping locations at Grand Island and a great place to enjoy the area’s breathtaking scenery and intriguing history. Get ready for huge 300-foot wave-cut sandstone mountains, 13,500 acres of Lake Superior woodland, exquisite sand beaches, wintertime ice caverns, and heritage landmarks dating back to 2,000 B.C.

Besides, there are more than 10 trails on the island covering nearly 50 miles. One of the most popular mountain biking routes for reasonably fit individuals is the 23-mile perimeter trail around the main island. This trip is likely to take you a full day, so plan your visit accordingly.

6. Kickapoo State Recreation Area - Oakwood, Illinois

Vermillion River in early spring

At the Kickapoo State Recreation Area near Danville in Vermilion County, you can enjoy mountain biking, trekking, paddling, trout fishing, backpacking, hunting, and snorkeling - all amidst beautiful scenery. There are 184 camping sites at the facility with plenty of amenities nearby.

Mountain biking enthusiasts are sure to enjoy exploring 15 trails of varying difficulty levels. Bring your family along, as there are plenty of kid-friendly routes.

7. Porcupine Campground - Hope, Alaska

A railroad track with a view of the mountains and a lake

The Porcupine campground at the Chugach National Forest, adjacent to the old settlement of Hope, is situated in birch woods with views of the Turnagain Arm. Its 34 camping sites are planned out with seclusion and provide standard facilities such as outdoor dining tables, campfire pits, and water pumps.

Make sure to visit the famous Gull Rock Trail, which offers one of the region's oldest and last snow-free mountain biking possibilities. It parallels the Turnagain Arm and is beloved by travelers for being fairly easy and breathtakingly beautiful.

Safety Tips When Going on a Biking + Camping Trip

Bikes parked next to a camping tent

Below are some safety considerations that you must take into account before setting out for a journey that involves mountain biking and camping:

  1. Do your homework on the campsites along your trip. Are they at a high elevation, with really chilly nights? Are there any animals around? Will you have to bring your own "bear-proof container" to keep your food safe? The more planning you do beforehand, the smoother the trip will be.
  2. A mountain biking trip has a higher chance of injuries compared to a regular camping journey. Double-check your first aid and know whom to contact and where to go in case of emergency.
  3. Apart from stationary light sources you’ll have at the camp, make sure you have a portable torch and a headlamp, alongside additional batteries to carry with you when you’re out biking.
  4. Have reliable sources of navigation with you when you go cycling and ensure you know exactly where your camp is.
  5. When wild camping, take extra measures to protect your vehicle. Always remember to lock it and keep the windows covered.

Exploring the wilderness and indulging in the scenic views is one of the best ways to treat yourself. Add extra fun to your usual experience by combining car camping and mountain biking, and enjoy the adventure!

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