A Comprehensive Guide for Bikepackers to Public Lands in the USA


One beautiful thing about outdoor adventures is that it helps us to get out of our comfort zone and experience the world in new ways. You get to smell fresh, unfiltered air and take beautiful pictures of forests, hills and landscapes. However, one thing that most bike packers forget is that the places they are visiting are not owned by them. They are mostly public lands that are governed by rules and regulations. If you happen to break these laws, you could be in a whole lot of trouble. Bike packers in the USA must familiarize themselves with everything regarding the public lands they visit. Public land in the USA is free for citizens to explore. However, if you plan to go bike packing on these lands, you should arm yourselves with basic information about that territory. This article has compiled some of the essential tips for bike packing on public lands in the USA. Enjoy!

Essential tips for bike packing on public lands in the USA

Learn about public lands and its management

The public lands in the Unites States are quite vast and they cover up to 27 percent of the total United States land mass. This land space is measured at over 600 million acres which happens to be bigger than most small countries around the world. Before you pack your bags to head into anywhere within this area, the first thing you need to ask yourself is who manages that territory. Public lands in the USA are mostly managed by two entities namely the United States Department of Interior and the United States Department of Agriculture. The US Department of Interior is responsible for managing the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service. The Department of Agriculture is responsible for managing the US Forest Service. Almost all US bike packing routes are on public lands and there is space for camping, recreation and adventure for everybody.

Read outdoor and forest laws

Each of the above agencies have their own guidelines, rules and regulations. If you are planning to go bike packing in a territory governed by the Bureau of Land Management, then you need to know that 90 percent of the land is allocated to oil and gas developers while the remaining 10 percent is allocated to bike packers and other adventure seekers. You need to make sure you are on the right lands when you step in to this territory. Although there are bike trails all over the BLM territory, E-bikes are not allowed on non-motorized trails. The territories governed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service have a lot of bicycling routes and bicycling is permitted in many of the wildlife areas. Furthermore, the territories managed by the National Park Service also allows for biking and bike packing. The laws are made by each individual park sheriff and most parks across the nation are known for their recreational functions. Some trails on the United States Foreign reserve are dedicated for hiking. However, the majority of forest lands allow for biking and bike packing.

Know the wilderness areas

In the United States, there are over 680 wilderness areas and this areas account for over 106 million acres of land. It is important for bike packers to note that the United States has banned all transport mechanics on wilderness areas. The wilderness is the most protected land designation in the US and you should endeavor to avoid these areas when you are thinking of cycling or bike packing in the United States.

Always ask questions

If you just want to have a good time and enjoy yourself on a bike packing trip, you may not know which land is which and you may not know the territories to explore. In this case, it is important to ask the right people the right questions. If you have a friend who has travelled across the United States extensively, then they can be a good source of first-hand information. You can also visit any land management bureau to get a brochure on approved lands and territories for bike packing within the country.

Use the right apps

One factor that can help you in your navigation is using the right apps. You can find almost anything in a phone application these days and that includes the approved paths for cycling and bike packing. One of these apps is Trail forks. Trail forks contains lots of information that helps cyclers to navigate public and private lands. A more detailed app that shows land ownership is ONX maps. This app is built for hunters and it helps to identify both public and private property.


If you want to go bike packing in the United States, then you have to do your research to make sure you are bike packing in the right place. If you happen to travel on private property, you can be arrested for invasion and if you bike on a non-approved government, you will still have to face the consequences. It is better to learn about land laws and public lands before you venture into your trip. Cheers!