I'm excited to announce the launch of a completely new section of the Outside 365 website: a van life travel resources page! This page will live permanently in the navigation bar under the name "Van Life" so you can always find it easily.

On this permanent resources page, I’ll briefly document all the stops on our van life adventure (in reverse chronological order), with links to guidebooks, articles, routes, and other resources that I’ve published from each destination. These links include both recent guides that I've published to FATMAP, but in some instances, I'll include links to articles that I've published in years past on other platforms. In this way, I'll be rounding up all of the top resources I've written for each adventure destination, no matter where they were published.

If you want to visit any of these destinations yourself, you can use these links as a shortcut to find the best and most exciting adventures! Hopefully, these guides will help you skip some of the wandering around aimlessly on less-than-ideal trails. And if you want even more information on a wider variety of activity types, be sure to head over to FATMAP.com.

Note that this page only documents our van life travels beginning in June of 2021, and not my extensive domestic and international travels over the previous 14+ years… unless I revisited said destination after June 2021. This was a difficult decision to make, as I love compiling exhaustive lists of trails, destinations, articles, and more. After briefly considering compiling information from my 14+ years of travel, I realized that I’ve been to hundreds of towns and ridden many thousands of mountain bike trails (somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000, depending on how you count it). Compiling such a list would be an absolutely monumental feat, so I decided to just focus on our travels beginning with the advent of van life.

Finally, if you're interested in more timely updates from our travels, be sure to follow @mtbgreg on Instagram.

Check out the travel resources here!


Tucson, Arizona. Photo: Marcel Slootheer

Tucson, Arizona has long been a favorite destination of snowbirds from across North America. Traditional snowbirds were retirees who would seasonally flee from the cold and snow of the northern latitudes in exchange for the sunshine and perfect temperatures found in Arizona's desert or on Florida's beaches. But in today's mobile world, digital nomads also join the ranks of people who migrate with the seasons.

During my stay in Oregon's Rogue Valley, a switch flipped in the weather patterns, and the perfect fall temps plummeted into the 40s, accompanied by a torrent of rain. After weeks of rain with no end in sight, I found myself doubting that I could make it through an entire 6-month onslaught of such horrid weather.

After putting up with it for a couple of months, I finally pulled the plug on the dreary cold and hit the road south. It seems those old snowbirds have a few things figured out, as Tucson turned out to be the perfect spot to spend the months of January, February, March, and April.

Tucson lies just over an hour north of the Mexican border in a low elevation valley in the heart of the Sonoran Desert: a magical landscape filled with vibrant life. Here, you'll encounter almost every type of cactus imaginable, in all shapes and sizes and formations. In the spring, the cacti are covered with colorful blooms and the buds of new growth, and in between, wildflowers sprout in vast, colorful carpets from the desert floor. Birds flit from bush to tree to cactus, bees buzz amongst the flowers, roadrunners zip across the trail, and larger wildlife like javelina, coyotes, jackrabbits, deer, and more can be spotted at the right time of day.

After spending several months soaking in the rugged landscape and then subsequently heading back north to the desert zones that I'm more familiar with, I'm even more amazed at how rich with life the Sonoran Desert is. While sure, the Utah desert is a stunning place, if anything, it's an even more desolate environment when you compare the flora and fauna.

I'm in no way a city person, and living in a city of a million people did tend to drain me. Dealing with traffic and having to drive at least 20 minutes in any direction to reach a mountain bike trailhead was a tough transition from my normal ride-out-the-back-door lifestyle. And yet, for such a thriving city, the vast amount of mountain biking and hiking opportunities available right on the edge of town is astounding! I was impressed by the outdoor access on my first visit to Tucson a year ago, and now after taking a deep dive into the trails there, I'm even more blown away.

One incredible resource that I availed myself of several times per week is Tucson's fantastic network of paved bike paths that connect the city's various barrios together. With well over a hundred miles of vehicle-free bike paths, I could easily hop on my bike, pedal right out the door of my condo and onto the bike path, and go for a 20- or 30-mile ride in the evening without ever having to deal with a car. For road cyclists, these bike paths are like heaven on earth!

After pedaling hundreds of miles of mountain bike trails, spending many days hiking through the desert, and exploring hidden corners of the city on my road bike, I came away from my time in the desert with tons of fantastic memories (and photos!). Dig into this guidebook for a deep cut of the best routes that I explored during my 3-month snowbird stint in the incredible city of Tucson.


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Few people will have "Southern Oregon" written on their bucket list of must-visit mountain destinations, but if you've ever driven through Southern Oregon's Rogue Valley while heading up or down Interstate 5, you might wonder why you've never heard of it before. Rolling mountain ridges surround the valley, with the tallest mountains soaring over a vertical mile above the valley floor. In the distance, snowcapped volcanic peaks tower over the landscape, providing omnipresent navigational landmarks. This mountainous landscape is home to hundreds of miles of trails and a lifetime of adventure... if you're willing to dig a little.

While the Rogue Valley wasn't originally high on my hit list, I had been vaguely familiar with the town of Ashland for some time. Mt. Ashland has long been a paradise for enduro riders looking to rip endless shuttle runs. In fact, mountain bikers have been skidding down the flanks of Mt. Ashland since before the word "enduro" was associated with the sport. These days, Ashland is a popular stop for the California Enduro Series, as it sits just across the California border. When the opportunity arose to immerse myself in the landscape of Southern Oregon, I jumped at the chance!

A four-month stay gave me plenty of time to work with. I not only pedaled and hiked as many trails as I could find in the Rogue Valley, but I ventured further afield to explore the Mount McLoughlin area, Klamath Falls, Grants Pass. Mount Shasta and Redding in Northern California. I also ventured to Oregon's Coast Range on a long weekend and spent a week exploring Oakridge, but you can find out more about those two stops in separate guidebooks.

Thanks to my extended stay in true vagabonding style, this guidebook is chock full of adventures, both large and small. But if you're looking for a greatest hits list of the best mountain bike trails in Southern Oregon, be sure to read this dedicated guidebook.

While naturally I focused on shredding singletrack, my stint in the Rogue Valley spanned the changing of the seasons from late summer to mid-winter. After soaking in as much of the beautiful fall colors as possible, I had to embrace the cold and the rain, powering through less-than-optimal trail and weather conditions. But finally, finally, it began to snow! While I didn't get to spend a full season snowboarding at Mt. Ashland, I was fortunate enough to thoroughly explore the small ski area before departing the region in January. In uncharacteristic style, you'll find both summer and winter adventures in this guidebook.

Even after four months spent exploring the region, there are still stones that I didn't get the chance to turn over, still trails that I didn't get to ride or hike. But the ones I did explore thoroughly impressed me! Most notably, the shuttle runs on Mount Ashland can rank among the best shuttles in the Western USA. The backcountry rides near McLoughlin are wild and immersive. And the purpose-built trails on the Mountain of the Rogue are the stuff mountain bike dreams are made of.

The next time you're heading up or down the West Coast, consider a lengthy stop in Southern Oregon!

Click here for the full guidebook.


Photo: Marcel Slootheer

I can't even begin to explain how incredibly "unprecedented" the year 2020 was. (And if I never have to hear that word again, I'll die a happy man.) But we all lived through it—we all have our own experiences to share from 2020 and the COVID 19 pandemic. We all had our plans for the year completely derailed.

So when you're faced with an utter shit storm of a year, what do you do? Focus on the few things that are within your control, and then make the most of them.

While international travel was off the table for 2020, thousands of miles of the world's best mountain bike trails are found right here in the good ole US of A. Instead of hopping on a plane I slid behind the wheel of my car, and the once-mighty interstate system of my dysfunctional country took me from Colorado to Arizona, Pennsylvania, Utah, Northeastern Oregon, California, Arizona again, more Colorado, a bigger dose of Utah, and a large helping of Southern Oregon to wrap things up.

Over the course of this chaotic year, I rode dozens of the nation's top trails and logged thousands of miles of pedaling. While I did re-ride a few perennial favorites, I spent most of the year exploring tons of new-to-me trails and destinations. Below, you'll find 20 of the very best trails that I rode for the first time in 2020.

Whittling the list down to 20 was a real challenge. Even just naming my favorites left me with a list of about 40, and I had to cut it in half. But the 20 that remain are all creme de la creme singletrack trails. All of these selections qualify as world-class mountain bike experiences, even if nobody has heard a few of these names

While this list is just an overview, I've penned dozens of guidebooks for FATMAP about these various destinations. So if anything here piques your interest, you can definitely dive deeper into each region and get more info.

Topping the list of my favorite trails of the year were a handful of routes in the Cascades. I don't know why this region doesn't get more ink, but flying down the loamy singletrack of the Cascade mountains is downright euphoric! O'Leary MountainLawlerEula RidgeHeckletooth, and Rye Spur collectively convinced me of the supremacy of the dark black dirt in the Cascades.

Somehow I've reached the end of the year and I'm still only in mediocre shape—blame the shuttle runs. Apparently, 2020 was the year of the point-to-point shuttle for me. The Big Boulder IMBA EpicTime WarpWOW TrailO'Leary MountainLawlerEula RidgeHeckletoothClassic Mt. Ashland ShuttlePauley CreekMills PeakMr. Toad's Wild RideMrazek Trail, and 9k Trail all thoroughly impressed me... and that's only the highlights reel of the shuttles I rode this year.

By far the best overall mountain bike destination I explored for the first time in 2020 was Downieville. While I had briefly passed through Downieville in 2012, this was my first deep dive into the region, and I'll definitely be back! Mt. Elwell along with the Big Boulder IMBA EpicPauley Creek, and Mills Peak especially impressed me.

Early in the year, I spent a month living and riding in Northeastern Oregon, and two of my favorite rides from my time there were this loop at MERA and the Umatilla Rim Loop. For more on Northeastern Oregon, be sure to dig into this guidebook.

Finally, there are a few outliers that don't fit any of the above categories. While I've ridden almost every trail in Colorado's Arkansas Valley, this spring I had an absolute ball pedaling the brand-new Camp Elevation and Unchained trails. While Spence Mountain is technically in the Cascades, the dry dirt there is much more reminiscent of Bend, since it's on the eastern side of the mountains. The descent on North Ridge is also arguably one of the most technical trails in Oregon. Finally, while I spent a couple of weeks riding in the Sonoran desert this spring, only one of the rides there managed to earn a spot on this top 20 list: Golder Ranch.

Whether you live in the United States, Canada, Europe, or someplace further afield, each of our home regions offers many lifetimes worth of adventures to enjoy. While international travel is a life-changing experience that everyone should take full advantage of, don't let limiting factors outside of your control rob you of the joy of exploration. Sometimes, the best adventures are hiding right under our noses.

Check out the full guidebook here!


There’s no one right way to travel: travel can and should look incredibly different from person to person, and from one season of life to the next. The COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly a season of life that has dramatically impacted how and where we travel. 

After my three-month Total Immersion tour through three different European countries, which you may have read about here on FATMAP, I temporarily re-integrated back into life in Colorado. And even with a global pandemic raging, I realized that I wasn’t ready to sit in one place for too long. I wanted to continue traveling, but slowly… and health-consciously.

A delightful series of unplanned events led me to spend a month and a half living, working, and exploring in northeast Oregon. Since Oregon is filled with epic mountain towns such as Bend, Hood River, Oakridge, and more, I had spent a respectable amount of time in Oregon before… but never in the northeastern corner. 

But Northeast Oregon is entirely different from the better-known destinations further to the west. This region is a wild and sparsely-populated area of the nation, with mountains ranging from rolling hills to jagged, rocky peaks. The area is dominated by the Blue Mountains and the Wallowa Mountains, but unfortunately for mountain bikers, most of the Wallowas are protected by the expansive Eagle Cap Wilderness—the largest wilderness area in Oregon. While mountain bikes may be banned, the Wilderness Area does make for great hiking and peak climbing! And aside from some small swathes of wilderness, the Blue Mountains are largely open to mountain biking.

Northeast Oregon is possibly best-known for its impressive web of wild and scenic rivers—most notably, the Grande Ronde. This region is also home to some beautiful lakes, including the idyllic Wallowa Lake framed by the soaring peaks of the Wallowa Mountains.

During my time in the area, I did my best to explore as much as I possibly could… but this wild and untamed landscape is home to a lifetime of adventures. In this guidebook, I’ve shared an array of my favorite adventures from my Total Immersion into the landscape of Northeast Oregon. Read on and learn about the best mountain bike rides in MERA, to exploring the Umatilla Rim Trail, to hiking deep into the Eagle Cap Wilderness, pedaling endless gravel roads in the expansive national forests, and exploring both lakes and rivers on my standup paddleboard. This guidebook can easily help you plan an epic multi-sport itinerary to rival the most popular mountain destinations in North America... with a fraction of the crowds!

Dive into the full guidebook, here.


Mountain bike trails seem to be immortal entities. Similar to roads, you might think that once a trail is built, it will stay like that forever—never moving, never changing, permanent and immutable.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Mountain bike trails are *constantly* changing over time. Even the best, most sustainably-built trails evolve as the years roll on. The trail tread wears down and wears in, with fast lines appearing in the trail corridor. Some trails get rougher, while others get smoother. New features may be built to make the trail more entertaining, and others may be removed to make it easier. Most notably, erosion plays a huge role, sometimes turning buff, easy trails into challenging messes of ruts and rocks.

Mountain bike trails even change their paths over time. Trails are often rerouted onto more sustainable alignments, and sometimes they're closed down to make way for other, newer alternatives. Nothing is permanent, except for change itself.

Sometimes this change is slow, and classic trails serve humanity for decades, over even hundreds of years. A long list of historic trails have helped shape and define the sport of mountain biking, emerging as classic rides that every mountain biker worth their salt has to ride at least once.

The problem is, many of the so-called "classics" have indeed changed over time, and the trail's present reality doesn't always hold up to the fond memories that we have from years past. Yet other trails retain their character over the years, drawing riders back repeatedly while delighting new riders who have never before tasted their sweet fruit.

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride is one of the latter. Established in 1982, this steep trail drops off of the venerable Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) and descends quickly down the mountainside into the valley below. While it can be ridden as a loop, many riders choose to shuttle part way up the highway and then climb the TRT to the top of Mr. Toad's.

I chose the shuttle option and got dropped off at an upper TRT trailhead. Despite the shuttle bump, it's still about 1,400 feet of climbing up the TRT to reach the top of Mr. Toad's. But with sublime singletrack to pedal and occasional views through the trees, the feet ticked by quickly, and before I knew it, it was time to pull the knee pads up and drop in.

Mr. Toad's has long held a reputation as a gnarly, demanding descent, but sometimes it's tough to know how much credence to give these reports. Was Mr. Toad's just challenging on the fully rigid mountain bikes with tiny wheels and steep geometry of yesteryear, or does it still serve up a big dose of challenge today?

Shortly after dropping in, I found the answer to my question: Mr. Toad's *definitely* still packs a punch! The trail drops through a veritable boulder field, and especially for a first-timer exploring solo, spotting the best line through the sea of rock can be a challenge. In a few sections, I stopped to scope the line, determining exactly how I would approach the piles of boulders. In others, I would blast down an obvious line, then look off to the side and spot an alt line that launches off a massive 5-foot boulder, gapping to a smooth landing further down the mountainside. While simply making it down Mr. Toad's without a crash is a worthy accomplishment, this trail provides a smorgasbord of challenge for expert mountain bikers.

Despite stopping for photos, the 2,700-foot descent flew by in a blur, and before I knew it, I had left the rocks behind and was rolling through smooth singletrack on my way to the lower trailhead. Whoever first routed this line down a vast mountainside of cliffs and boulders was a true visionary, and I hope that wherever that person is today, they know what a classic trail they created in Mr. Toad's Wild Ride!