Bike-In Campsites do so much for the Local Bicycle Community

bike site
Bike Campsite somewhere on the Northern Tier Route

Campgrounds throughout the Pacific Northwest have campsites just for bicyclists. These campsites cost less because they have less impact, use less space and fewer resources than car sites or RV sites.

This is the case with all agencies’ campgrounds, from US Forest Service campgrounds, State and County level campgrounds, to a Corp of Engineers campground near a dam in northern Idaho. That COE campground has a bike-in area with four tent pads, a fire ring, bike rack and a picnic table that was built as an Eagle Scout project.

States like Washington, Idaho and Montana recognize the value in campsites for cyclists. According to the Washington Bikes website, http://wabikes.org/2015/01/08/bicycling-means-business-in-wa/, “Bicycle riders spend over $3.1 billion in the Washington state economy and outdoor recreation contributes significantly to supporting rural economies statewide.”

I was able to camp at many of the sites in the Northwest when riding Adventure Cycling’s Northern Tier route in 1998, https://www.adventurecycling.org/routes-and-maps/adventure-cycling-route-network/northern-tier/.

So living in Fort Collins as a full-time bike commuter and bicycle advocate, I wonder why there are no bicycle campsites at any of the many different agency campgrounds in Larimer County. We are even lucky enough to have a well-funded City Natural Areas program, which owns and protects large swaths of land outside the city, within a days ride or half a days ride from town. Between Soapstone, Bobcat Ridge and Gateway Park, it would be easy for the City of Fort Collins, which works so hard to be a high-level bicycle community, to build at least one bike-in camp area and then use it to help promote bicycle travel. I have mentioned this to both the Director of Natural Resources and the Bike Coordinator for the city several times.

I think that there are two big, indirect benefits from installing bicycle campsites in our regions’ campgrounds. First, if you build it they will come. If maps show a bike-in campsite within less than a days ride from strong bicycle community, people will ride to it. And they’ll buy the gear for it. So if they have gear for bike travel, and are strong enough for it, then they have gear and are strong enough for bike commuting year around.

Second, multiple campgrounds with bicycle campsites within a region will bring in bicycle tourism and generate positive revenue, as shown in the Washington Bikes article above and the following story from Montana Public Radio..  http://mtpr.org/post/four-montana-state-parks-getting-new-bicycle-campsites#stream/0.

Adv Cycling Tour group
Adventure Cycling tour group on the same route in 1998