Ten Backcountry Discovery Routes at a Glance
January 6, 2022
January 6, 2022
On a BDR® you will see rural America, and get a taste of the trails that shaped early American history. From the Western slopes and mining towns of the Gold Rush era, to the battlefields of the American revolution — you can explore America’s magnificent public lands by motorcycle. Enjoy towering mountain vistas, expansive desert solitude, and sounds of wildlife, while riding incredibly fun terrain by motorcycle. You’ll explore remote dirt roads and tiny towns that most people will never see.
Making this adventure motorcycling dream is easier than you think.
The non-profit organization, Backcountry Discovery Routes, has made it easy with free GPS tracks and helpful trip planning resources for each of the nine routes so that anyone yearning for a motorcycle adventure (who knows how to work their GPS) can ride and enjoy for free. There are also fly & ride opportunities with motorcycle rentals and guided, or self-guided tours available from a variety of tour and rental companies around the country.
Crossing more state lines and covering more mileage than any other BDR makes the NEBDR one of the most diverse routes in the BDR series. Every state delivers a unique experience unto itself and while sections can be done over an extended weekend, riders who commit to the entire 1,300-mile route will truly feel as though they had an adventure of a lifetime.
Best time of year: The NEBDR uses seasonal roads that open as early as April 30th in NY and as late as May 30th in VT, NH & ME. The earliest the route can be ridden in entirety would be June 1st. Depending on the winter snowfall, the route can be very muddy and slippery in some places during the spring time and early summer. The best time to ride the NEBDR is mid-June to mid-October.
Difficulty: Intermediate to Expert
A spectacular, yet challenging 820-mile ride across the south-eastern region of California. Rugged two-track and remote dirt roads lead riders through majestic canyons, rocky riverbeds, and sandy washes of California’s famous deserts and national preserves, including a dream ride in the Mojave Preserve.
Best time of year: Mid-October until mid-April. This is a wintertime route, but winter storms may hamper some times and elevations may see some snow. Although parts of this route can be ridden in winter, storms and bad weather may prevent some sections from being available and higher elevation terrain may be unavailable due to winter snowpack.
Difficulty: Intermediate to Expert
Nevada’s 900-mile south-to-north route leads riders on miles of meandering two-track roads through Nevada’s expansive deserts, open sagebrush valleys, and seemingly endless mountain ranges. You’ll visit ghost towns, quirky taverns, see desert sculptures, murals, and the world’s largest car forest.
Best time of year: Sections in the South are ridable April, May, October, and November, and in most cases throughout the winter. Northern sections are best June to October. We suggest: Ride from the North to the South in the summer until you can’t stand the heat; and ride from the South to the North until you can’t take the cold.
Hot springs, and lakeside camping can be found on your way into the mountains of the Gila National Forest of New Mexico and you’ll even be a stone’s throw from Arizona before heading back to the north east toward Colorado. Highlights of this 1,200 mile backcountry adventure includes Chloride Canyon, long stretches between towns, wild horse sightings, and endless dispersed camping options.
Best time of year: June and September.
If you’ve ever wanted to ride endless twisty mountain roads, the Idaho BDR will throw corners at you for days on end. It’s a true off-the-grid ride that is long enough, at 1,250 miles, that you might just use up an entire rear knobby tire.
Best time of year: July through October, if no early snow storms have occurred.
Rocky, remote and hot are three words that come to mind for Arizona. Blessed with a surprising number of mountain ranges, the Arizona BDR is more green and mountainous than many people expect. Starting on the US/Mexico border, the 750-mile route stays east of Tucson and Phoenix with options to see the Grand Canyon from vantage points most people never see.
Best time of year: May, June, September, October.
With several passes over 12,000 feet, there is no shortage of views on this ride. Beginning in the four corners location where, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah intersect, the 675-mile route winds its way north through the Rocky Mountains to the Wyoming border. The terrain includes dirt roads with rocks, sand and even a few water crossings to keep it exciting.
Best time of year: July through September, and sometimes October if no early snow storms have occurred.
This 871-mile route will take riders to some iconic places like Valley of the Gods, Moab, the Abajo and La Sal mountains, Onion Creek, 9 Mile Canyon and the Wasatch Mountains. Utah is unpredictable with mud that is impassable when wet. Deep sand also challenges riders in places, and a few expert-only options provide excitement for those who seek adrenaline.
Best time of year: August through October depending on early snow storms and weather.
Difficulty: Intermediate Plus to Expert
Thoroughly exploring the Cascade Mountains, this 575-mile route has stunning views of the massive volcanoes from the dense forest in the southern part, and the open arid pine forests of the central part of the route, showcasing the diversity of Washington.
Best time of year: July through October depending on snowpack and weather.