If you’ve ever been biking in Nevada, you know it has incredible scenery. But probably something else overshadowed your experience: It’s HOT. So hot, it’s sometimes hard to enjoy a bike ride. This is why, the invention of the electric bike – and the growing acceptance of e-bikes on trails – is so exciting! Now, we have a better chance to enjoy the scenery without succumbing to heat stroke.
But, before you fork over the money to buy an e-bike or plan a biking vacation to Nevada, you might want to know more about where e-bikes are allowed in Nevada.
Is it Legal To Ride an E Bike on a Trail in Nevada?
An e-bike is a two- or three-wheeled bicycle capable of speeds less than 20 miles per hour. In Nevada, e-bikes are allowed on most trails where bikes are permitted, but local or park-specific regulations can vary significantly.
What Laws Govern E Bikes in Nevada?
To be classified as an e-bike by the state of Nevada, the bike motor must be less than 750 watts and capable of speeds no greater than 20 mph. Additionally, it must have pedals and be recognizable as a bicycle.
Electric bikes look like traditional bicycles but have an electric motor. Some Nevada laws for both mopeds and bicycles apply, though technically and e-bike is neither. The state does not require helmet use, liability insurance, a driver’s license or registration.
On roadways, e-bikes must follow all traffic rules such as signaling turns and staying to the right of the roadway except when turning left. They must have working brakes and at night, have a headlight, plus red reflectors on the back and both sides. Not surprisingly, riding an e-bike under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal.
Useful information on Nevada bicycle road laws are available from the Nevada Department of Transportation (link: https://www.nevadadot.com/home/showdocument?id=3682)
Can you ride an E Bike in Lake Mead National Park in Nevada?
At Lake Mead National Recreation Area, e-bikes are allowed everywhere traditional bicycles are allowed, which means roads and trails where motorized vehicles are permitted. So, pull out the maps (link: https://www.nps.gov/lake/planyourvisit/maps.htm) [Note: also good source for article image.]
While a resolution in August of 2019 allowed e-bikes in all National Parks, that hasn’t happened immediately at every park. Some National Parks first had to study the impacts of e-bikes on specific trails and ecosystems, while others are still working on crafting their regulations. Currently, 385 National Parks have completed their evaluations and adjusted their policies.
In Nevada, this means only Lake Mead and sections of the Pony Express National Historic Trail, Old Spanish National Historic Trail and California National Historic Trail allow e-bikes. But that’s not because of restrictions against e-biking: Except for Great Basin National Park (where the ecosystem is extremely fragile and no trail biking is allowed at all), the majority of Nevada National Parks are not practical for biking of any sort due to their landscape. I mean, fossil beds? Death Valley?
To check out the regulations at the National Park you plan to visit ahead of time, use www.nps.gov.
Are E Bikes Allowed in Nevada State Parks?
Currently Nevada State Parks do allow e-bikes on all trails where traditional mountain bikes have access.
Are E Bikes Allowed in Nevada National Forests?
At the moment, e-bikes are welcome on all National Forest trails where “motorized use” is permitted. However, National Forests are also in the process of revising regulations governing e-bikes and will most likely become more inclusive in the near future. This is a fairly new technology, remember? It takes the powers-that-be awhile to catch up.
Because National Forests are managed by the Department of Agriculture, they weren’t affected by the same blanket regulation change in 2019 that’s opening up National Parks and State Parks to e-bikes. Still, they will likely find more ways to allow e-bikes in mountain biking opportunities or create e-bike-specific options.
Some Great E-Bike Rides in Nevada
- Rocky Gap Road, Summerlin, NV (15 miles)
- Beaver Dam Gravel Route, Caliente, NV (25 miles)
- Bootleg Canyon, Boulder City (17 trails, beginner to advanced, totaling 35 miles)
- Tahoe Rim Trail between Hobart Road and the state park boundary north of Tunnel Creek Road
- River Mountains Loop, Lake Mead, NV (24 miles). This is one of my favorites because it connects some major sights like Hoover Dam, Boulder City and the rest of the Las Vegas Valley. On a traditional bike, the distance might be daunting, but on an e-bike… no problem!
The Best Time of the Year to E- Mountain Bike in Nevada
Ok, there’s just no way around it. Summer biking in Nevada is hot. Even with electric-assist on your MTB, you’ll still most likely feel like you’re baking, and e-bike technology doesn’t offer any protection from sunburn!
Hence, the best time of year to bike in Nevada is October to April when the temperatures are lower. When riding this time of year, bring a rain coat and/or other warm clothes, especially at higher elevations where weather can change quickly and hypothermia is a possibility. And, no matter the season, always wear sunscreen.
Some Safety Guidelines for Riding eBikes in Nevada
If you’re familiar with general mountain biking safety guidelines, there are a few tips relevant just to e-bikes:
- Mount and dismount carefully. E-bikes are generally 20+ pounds heavier than the mountain bike you’re used to riding, affecting your balance.
- Carry tools for basic repairs. E-bikes can take you farther distances and are a lot heavier to push home if something breaks on the trail.
If you’re new to recreational biking, here are some helpful tips:
- Wear protective equipment, like a helmet and additional padding if you choose.
- Carry route maps and be familiar with relevant park information.
- Bring plenty of water, snacks and an extra layer of clothing.
- Follow trail etiquette like announcing your presence and intention to pass.
- Yield to hikers and horseback riders on trails.
- Obey trail/park rules including one-way directions and closed trail signs.
- No shortcuts or riding off-trail.
There’s More to Do in Nevada Than Gamble!
So, the next time you get an invitation to take a trip to Vegas – for a business conference, a bachelor party, anything – and your instinct is to groan… remember there’s more to do in Nevada than sit around in a casino and drink. Lake Mead and Bootleg Canyon are only a short drive away. It might be the perfect opportunity to try out e-biking in Nevada. And then enjoy an ice-cold drink and a dip in the hotel pool – you’ve earned it!