By Jen Anderson
When the summer crowds and intense heat fade but the sunshine remains, the air is crisp and the light golden. Late September is a magical time in Oregon’s parks — the perfect time for a joyride on two wheels at either of two organized events: Crater Lake’s Ride the Rim event, and National Bike Your Park Day.
Here’s how to be part of these classic Oregon experiences:
Ride the Rim
At Ride the Rim, on Saturday, Sept. 17 and Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016, cyclists, runners and hikers get to enjoy the pristine beauty of Crater Lake National Park’s East Rim Drive without vehicle traffic. This is the second year as an organized event, although the park has been dedicating a day of vehicle-free traffic in the spring and fall each year since 2013. Last year a crowd of 2,300 rallied to Ride the Rim.
“It’s a nice way to enjoy the views without all the noise, and sometimes you get a chance to see wildlife in the park,” says Tonia Ulbricht, an event spokeswoman.
With 3,500 feet in net elevation gain and steep inclines and declines — at elevations of 5,000 feet — the ride is for intermediate to advanced riders, so families use caution. Participants have access to five rest stops along the 25-mile route with water, snacks, information, maps, basic bike tools, first aid and shade provided, as well as a pre-ride BBQ meet-and-greet that Friday evening.
Registration (free, not including the $15 park entrance fee) includes admission into the Favell Museum at the park, which houses more than 100,000 Native American artifacts. Visitors can also see the Juried Art Show & Sale that weekend, featuring art and sculptures by more 30 artists from Oregon and elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest.
Visit Ride the Rim for info on how to register, rent a bike, book a free shuttle and even arrange an Amtrak trip to the park.
National Bike Your Park Day
The inaugural National Bike Your Park Day, Sept. 24, 2016, is meant to encourage people people to jump on their bikes anywhere they are and tool around their favorite national park, state park, wildlife refuge or other public land.
Organized by the nonprofit Adventure Cycling Association (which turns 40 this year), the aim is to inspire and empower people of all ages and skill levels to bike in and around their parks — either solo or with friends, 10 miles or 100.
Bike Your Park Day also marks the National Park Service’s centennial anniversary, as well as National Public Lands Day. In addition to Crater Lake's Ride the Rim, here's another registered ride in Southern Oregon. Try riding from Oregon’s North Coast to South Coast, starting at Fort Stevens State Park on Sept. 24 and ending in Brookings on Oct. 4.