To help satiate the rapidly-growing bikepacking community’s desire for new long-distance routes, Bikepacking Roots recently released the 2,700-mile-long Wild West Route. This Canada- to-Mexico epic links together dirt roads and rough 4×4 tracks through Montana, Idaho, Utah, and Arizona, showcasing the vast expanses of wild and public lands in the Intermountain West.
Over the past three years, development of the Wild West Route involved extensive engagement with federal land managers, Navajo Nation officials and organizations, and private landowners. More than 40 test riders rode some or all of the route in 2018 to provide feedback for route refinement and build awareness of the route in communities along the way.
“The Wild West Route is one of longest established bikepacking routes in the world,” says Bikepacking Roots’ Executive Director Kurt Refsnider. “For much of the route’s length, we scouted multiple potential alignments in order to find the best combination of scenic, remote, and enjoyable dirt riding while balancing that with regular resupply options in small communities.”
More than 80% of the route is dirt, and although there is virtually no singletrack, riders should not expect a ribbon of gravel across the country. The track is often rough, steep, and loose and was designed to be ridden on mountain bikes. And nearly 70% of the Wild West Route is on public lands, including eighteen National Forests, six National Parks and Monuments, and four areas with BLM National Conservation Lands designation.
To help empower riders to tackle the Wild West Route, Bikepacking Roots offers at no cost GPS navigation data with more than 1,500 points of interest (water, services, public land boundaries, campgrounds, etc.). A ~100-page route-planning and educational guide will also be available shortly. An additional GPS-enabled mobile app is being developed in collaboration with Atlas Guides and will feature offline maps, elevation profiles, detailed waypoint information, and the ability for riders to post updates on water sources or other waypoints.
“The Wild West Route truly lives up to its name – remote, rugged, and adventurous!” say Karen and Tracey Bartow, who rode the route in 2018. “The wilderness and natural lands that the route goes through are some of the most breathtakingly beautiful scenery in the world and more than reward any struggle encountered.”
“Totally the road less traveled in the continental US. A journey through recent history, broken dreams, human endeavor and the development of the wild west. Stunning and remote scenery, more remote and a lot less developed than the CDMTB; the hills feel steeper and longer, the valleys deeper with a feeling it takes you closer to the beating heart of the original pioneers.” -Pete Aldwindle
A parallel universe to the GDMBR – more remote, more dirt, more beauty and more cursing.” -Jens Van Roost
“The Wild West Route will help you find answers to questions you never thought to ask. If you’re looking for remote backcountry in beautiful sections of the west, you found the WWR.” -Doug Covey
“It was a grand adventure! To traverse the length of the USA, riding geologic features instead of highways, allows you to interact more intimately with the landscape and locals along the way.” -Roy Clee
-The Wild West Route is 2,700 miles in length with 185,000 feet of climbing. The northern terminus of the route is just outside Eureka, Montana, and the southern terminus is 20 miles from Sierra Vista, Arizona.
-The recommended number of days for average bikepackers to cover the full length of the route is between 40 and 65 days (40-70 miles per day)
-The Wild West Route can be ridden in either direction, with southbound rides ideally starting in late summer and north-bound rides starting in late Spring
Bikepacking Roots is a 501(c)(3) non-profit formed in 2017 by long-time bikepackers, cycling advocates, conservationists, and educators to support the growing bikepacking community through advocacy, education, and route development. The organization has a membership of nearly 3,000 individuals, and membership is free.
To learn more about the Wild West Route, head to Bikepacking Roots