March 24, 2016
Carving New Tracks at Your Favorite Resorts
By Dutch Franz
Photo at right: The all-terrain all-season capability of the fat bike is fun for the whole family. Photo by Kristen Smith, courtesy of Methow Trails
The number of mountain resorts open to the go-anywhere fat bike has more than doubled in the last year and many popular resort destinations have opened new terrain year-round to enthusiasts and beginners alike.
Fat bikes are well-suited for the extreme conditions in the Pacific Northwest and are fun to ride because of the wide (or “fat”) high-floatation overinflated tires. Traditional mountain bike tires range from 1.5 to 2.5 inches wide; fat bike tires are 4 to 5 inches wide and inflated to just 4-10 psi.
The wide tires and low tire pressure make these bikes incredibly stable in traditionally menacing conditions like snow, ice and sand. This added stability allows fat-tire bikers to enjoy terrain normally reserved for skiers and hikers. Fat biking is also a fun family activity since no lessons or new skills are required, especially if you already know how to ride a bike.
Fat biking can be a good addition to Nordic or downhill skiing vacations, allowing families to experience day excursions from their favorite resorts. The Northwest has become a hub for fat biking in the lower 48 states and has the most varied landscape for fat biking in the country.
Fat bikers can explore groomed mountain Nordic trails, some downhill ski runs, high rocky desert plateaus, steep sand dunes and seaside beaches. The activity has all-season all-terrain family appeal.
For more information about all things fat biking and for riding groups or outings in your area, check out the Fat Biking Northwest club on Facebook. Take a look at these places listed below for Northwest fat biking areas and where you can rent bikes.
Fat Biking Destinations/Rentals
British Columbia, Canada
Kootenay National Park, Kootenay: pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/bc/kootenay/index.aspx
Mountain Station, Nelson: discovernelson.com
Nipika Mountain Resort, Fernie: nipika.com
Silver Star Mountain Resort: winter.skisilverstar.com
Whistler-Blackcomb Resort: whistlerblackcomb.com
Rentals in B.C.
Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort, Sandpoint: schweitzer.com/mountain/snowbiking
St. Anthony Dunes: blm.gov/id/st/en/visit_and_play/places_to_see/upper_snake_field/St__Anthony_Sand_Dunes.html
Teton Valley: parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/find-a-park
Christmas Valley Dunes: blm.gov/or/resources/recreation/site_info.php?siteid=85
Dutchman and Wanoga Sno-Parks, Bend: oregon.com/recreation/deschutes-national-forest
Mount Bachelor, Bend: mtbachelor.com
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area: stateparks.com/oregon_dunes.html
Phil’s Trail, Central Oregon Trail Alliance: cotamtb.com
John Wayne Pioneer Trail: evergreenmtb.org/trails/john-wayne-pioneer-trail-iron-horse-state-park
Leavenworth Ski Hill Fat Bike Program, Leavenworth: skileavenworth.com/activities/fat-bike
Methow Valley Trails, Winthrop: methowtrails.org
Riverside State Park, Spokane: wa-washingtonstateparks.civicplus.com/573/Riverside
Sun Mountain Lodge, Winthrop: sunmountainlodge.com
White Pass Nordic Trails, Naches: skiwhitepass.com/the-mountain/nordic-center.aspx
Dutch Franz is a Seattle-based freelance outdoor adventure journalist and writer. His work has appeared in numerous regional magazines and his short stories have been published in two anthologies.