Unless you’re in a warmer climate you might be thinking it would be nice to go to somewhere warm right about now right? Or maybe you are a hard ass that loves the winter conditions and the change in routine that the winter brings? Regardless you may find yourself thinking that it might be nice to get away for some dry dirt soon. These winter ride destinations are my favorite spots that don’t require putting on 6 layers to stay warm.
As I sit writing this I have in fact retreated south in avoidance of a winter blast blowing through western North Carolina. Yes, I am soft. My wife and I began road tripping south a little over 10 years ago. Our winters in Utah seemed increasingly unpredictable and good snow wasn’t really coming till late January or February. If there wasn’t fresh snow we’d rather ride bikes!
So after a few years of winter trips down south we decided that winter’s were better avoided. We were done with winter and moved down to AZ where we spent 4 years mostly in Sedona. That’s officially when our avoidance of winter addiction became irreversible.
So where should you go when you really want to ride your bike in the winter? In no particular order although there are favorites:
Arizona – Sedona, Phoenix and Tucson
If you are really wanting the most predictably warm and sunny weather AZ is the place to be with a shit load of great riding through the winter. Yes, some of the higher elevation places do get snow and real winters but most of the southern part of the state rarely see’s winter. The first week of March is one good time for sure at the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival.
As long as the weather is at least in the 50’s Sedona is my riding of choice for sure. It does get cold and does have snow in the winter so its not always the best choice if you want real warm. If you do choose Sedona and winter moves in, there is great riding just south that usually misses the winter. The Black Canyon Trail and all the regional parks around Phoenix areas are almost always great!
Phoenix is our next fav do to the diversity of riding around the city. From South Mountains rock gnar to a good mix around the McDowell Mountains, the city is surrounded by excellent winter riding.
Tucson is also very good with some bigger mountain riding to be had off Mt Lemon. Although Tucson is very popular with riders wanting to escape winter I prefer Phoenix riding more. It’s more centrally located and you can easily day trip to Tucson and Sedona.
UT – Hurricane, St George
Southern Utah can be very windy and can have wintery conditions so choose your time wisely when you want to go here. If you’re planning to ride more around Hurricane, make sure you look into the current conditions before you go. Many of the dirt roads that go out to the main riding ares can be too sloppy effectively cutting off access to trails that may or may not be perfect for riding.
NV – Vegas!
Vegas can also be vey windy but the Cottonwood trails out of Blue Diamond and Bootleg Canyon in Boulder City sure are fun! Bootleg is the rockier, steeper. ledgy more gnarly riding. The Cottonwood trails are much more kind to those who just want to get in some miles on faster terrain.
FL – Ocala – Tampa
Don’t be fooled into thinking FL is just swamps and retired folks. The riding is REALLY good as long as you don’t mind twisty and lots of progressive features on your trails. We really like the riding close to Tampa like Alifia State Park, Balm Boyette and Loyce Harpe Park. Ocala also has the well know Santos State Park that has a ton of riding including jump lines and classic tech with drops and skinny’s.
Why not avoid winter all together and go to summer in the Southern Hemisphere! This is really a place you need to plan to spend a few weeks – if not all winter. NZ is amazing and both north and south islands have great riding. Personally I’m more partial to the south island though because of the riding around Nelson and Queenstown. Check out our trip down a few years ago here: New Zealand Adventures
You could go to one of these winter ride destinations or you could stay at home recharging your riding passion. You might take up hiking or cross fit or yoga. Or maybe you might want to join a water jogging class? NO WAY, you want to go ride your bike!
Let us know if you have any questions regarding these places or if we missed any spots you love.