Is It Legal to Ride eBikes in National Parks?
Electric bikes, or ebikes, are becoming more popular with RVers, but can you take yours into a National Park?
There are many fun ways to experience national parks, and one of them is on two wheels. We also see lots of ebikes cruising along the streets and trails these days.
The increased use has pushed the federal government to some new regulations in place. In this article, we’ll take a look at what they are allowing and not allowing.
Let’s jump in!
Are eBikes Allowed in National Parks?
Because they have electric motors, ebikes aren’t like regular bicycles. However, national parks treat them effectively as equals, essentially allowing them in the same places as conventional bikes.
In some cases, there are going to be sensitive areas where they’re prohibited. But generally speaking, as long as you follow some rules, you’re free to roam national parks on your ebike.
What The NPS Has to Say About eBikes in National Parks
Rules governing the use of ebikes in national parks went into effect on December 2, 2020. They’re designed to keep people safe and protect the parks at the same time.
The main rule is that national parks allow electric bikes as long as their motor doesn’t exceed 750 watts. The ebikes with pedal-assist capabilities have been cleared for use on trails. Although, those that use constant electric power have to stay on paved surfaces.
National parks prohibit all kinds of bikes in wilderness areas, and that’s certainly understandable. Also, the park regulations follow the appropriate state laws in terms of things like requiring helmets, insurance, or registration.
Along with these formal regulations for using ebikes in national parks, there are also some common safety guidelines. These include obeying all rules of the road and trails and paying attention to other vehicles. Also, be sure to slow down at intersections and make eye contact with drivers before going through them.
Do All National Parks Allow eBikes?
However, this doesn’t mean that ebike rules are the same at each national park. Because the parks are all unique, the law allows for some flexibility on a case-by-case basis. For this reason, individual park superintendents also have some discretion on what to allow and where.
Benefits of eBikes for Transportation
There are a few good reasons why ebikes are gaining so much in popularity. We’ll walk you through a few of them.
Ability to Go Further Without Over Exerting Yourself
Whether you’re in great physical condition or not, your body has limits. Eventually, you’ll run out of energy and can’t keep going. With an ebike, though, you can ride longer, and you can even explore some areas that you wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise. In national parks, this means you can literally explore areas that are farther down the trail on your ebike.
Makes Biking Possible Regardless of Fitness Level
And the great thing is you don’t have to be in great physical shape to enjoy biking. An ebike can certainly help you get fit. Until then, you can still enjoy riding without it being too strenuous. They’re also helpful to people who have limitations because of their age or disabilities.
Great Where Parking is Limited
Aside from rural areas and national parks, ebikes are great in urban areas, too. They don’t require as much space as a car or truck, so they’re easy to get around on. In many situations, they’re a smart and sensible alternative form of transportation. It’s usually easy to find a place to park them, too!
Maybe we should bump this one up to the top of our list. In case you need a reminder, ebikes are simply a lot of fun. We think of them as a socially acceptable way to revert to your childhood! They can certainly help get your mind off many of your grown-up problems. Also, that breeze you feel while riding always feels good.
Tips for eBiking in National Parks
Before you load up your ebike to hit a park’s trails, here are some things to keep in mind.
Check Local Park Regulations
As we said, different parks might have different regulations. Take a look at the national park’s website ahead of time to find out details on what areas are accessible by ebikes. You can also get more information at the visitor center or ranger station. Don’t be reluctant to ask a ranger – they love being helpful.
Know Where You’re Going
Don’t just take off without a plan. It’s always a good idea to map things out ahead in advance so you’ll know how far you’ll be riding and how long it should take. It takes some guesswork out of your outing and can help you avoid any surprises.
Make Sure You’re Fully Charged
We keep saying how fun ebikes are, but they’re no fun at all with no juice. Before you start rolling, make sure to charge your battery completely.
Have a Back-Up Plan
But what if your battery does die? Hopefully, you’ve already thought of that and have a backup plan to get yourself running again or avoid stranding yourself in a remote area. The same goes for a flat tire or some other common bike problems you might encounter. Keep some basic tools on hand for simple repairs.
It’s also a good idea to let someone know where you’re headed and when you expect to return. Have an emergency plan in place that’s not dependent on having a good cell phone reception.
Check the Weather
Don’t head out on a long trip if the weather is iffy. Play it safe here, too, and take a long, careful look at the weather forecast before you start your ride. It’s no fun getting caught unexpectedly in a heavy downpour or, worse, a dangerous lightning storm.
It’s tempting to travel as lightly as possible, but you’ll want to ensure you bring the essentials. This means plenty of water to drink as well as some food, or at least snacks. Sunscreen is another must, and a small first-aid kit is never a bad idea.
Explore More in National Parks with Ebikes
Ebikes can enhance your experiences at national parks, helping you to explore more with less effort. Thankfully they’re being welcomed there pretty much with open arms. The rangers want you to be safe and the land protected. So read the rules for the park you’re visiting, then go out and enjoy!
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