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Can I Ride a QuietKat Electric Bike in a National Park?

With about 400 national parks across the country, only 40 allow any kind of travel via bicycle. For electric bikes, the laws governing their use in national parks vary from state to state; in fact, 28 states have no specific policies at all on whether or not you can ride your eMTB (Electric Mountain Bike) on trails in their national parks. Confusing, right? So how can you determine if you can ride your QuietKat on your next national park trip?

Know your electric bike.

The first step is to know the ins and outs of your QuietKat, including its wattage, maximum unassisted speed, and maximum rider weight.

Congress defines low-speed electric bikes as "two or three-wheeled vehicles with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (1hp), whose maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by such a motor while ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20 mph." That’s government speak for an electric bike or electric trike of no more than 750W which doesn’t exceed 20mph.

Electric bikes are classified by the U.S. in four distinct classes:

Class 1 electric bike:
Motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling
Ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 mph

Class 2 electric bike:
Motor that may be used exclusively to propel the bicycle
Not capable of providing assistance when the bicycle reaches a speed of 20 mph

Class 3 electric bike:
Motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling
Ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches a speed of 28 mph
Equipped with a speedometer

Class 4 electric bike:
Electric drive system that can be activated through either a pedaling action or throttle
Top speed is above 28 mph and/or the motor wattage may be greater than 750 watts

Depending on the electric bike you've purchased, your QuietKat will fall under either class 2 or class 4 categorization. Check specifics in the product description of the electric bike you've purchased on our website or in our FAQ section.

grand canyon national park
Grand Canyon National Park

Know your state's laws.

States use the official U.S. definition of electric bikes in their own laws and regulations, with some further revisions. So before hopping on your QuietKat and blazing a trail across Yellowstone, Denali, or the Grand Canyon, learn how that state classifies electric bikes and if they’re permitted on trails within their national parks. Believe it or not, some states have zero regulations on electric bikes and some are quite strict. For instance:

  • Even if your QuietKat is a class 2 electric bike that does not require motor-vehicle registration, you will still have to register your electric bike as an ATV if you plan on visiting a national park in the state of Maine.
  • But, if you're in North Carolina, your electric bike does not qualify as fully motorized regardless of its class and is permitted to travel wherever bicycles are permitted.
  • If you're in Hawaii, don't expect to be riding your electric bike on any natural surface trails.

In most of the United States, laws that explicitly govern electric bike travel at the state level are non-existent. The 28 states that lack any explicit governance of electric bike travel are:

Alabama Kentucky South Carolina
Arizona Mississippi Tennessee
Arkansas Montana Vermont
Connecticut Nebraska Virginia
Georgia New Jersey Washington
Idaho New Mexico West Virginia
Illinois Ohio Wisconsin
Indiana Oklahoma Wyoming
Iowa Oregon
Kansas Rhode Island

However, the parks themselves may have travel restrictions, so you should check in with the local park rangers to determine what is and what is not permitted.

Three U.S. national parks are the most visited: Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, and North Cascades National Park in Washington State. Of these three, only Grand Canyon National Park permits you to ride your electric bike on trails.

yellowstone national park
Yellowstone National Park

Research the national park you plan to visit.

It's always a good idea to plan as much of your trip as possible before you embark. If your local state laws are not clear on electric bike travel on trails, the next best option would be to call the national park you plan to visit and simply ask if and where electric bikes are allowed.

Timing is everything.

If you're planning an overnight national park visit for the family and/or don't like traveling during peak travel times, consider visiting in a "shoulder season" during either the fall or spring when the kids are still in school. Prices for decent lodging are lower during these times of year and don't fill up as quickly as they do during the regular summer season.

Define your expectations.

It's not a good idea to simply plan a trip to a national park because you feel like going. Rather, have a mission in mind when you visit. What is it you're looking forward to doing the most? What could you do without? Are you going to see as much as possible or are you planning an escape from your everyday life?

The last thing you want is to arrive at the national park only to be overwhelmed by a seemingly innumerable number of things to do and always feel like you're missing out on something. Plan ahead!

Pack for one day at a time.
Avoid encumbering yourself with too much luggage. Think ahead and plan for each day of your stay. And if each day really does require a lot of supplies, take a QuietKat cargo trailer along with you and take the load off.

A QuietKat electric bike is the best of both worlds when it comes to trail travel: Ride leisurely, quietly, and comfortably with its unassisted pedaling or challenge yourself and self-power your electric bike. See our selection of electric bikes to explore the terrain and ride farther into your favorite national park.

**The information quoted above regarding state and federal laws is current as of April, 2019. These laws are subject to change, so please check with local authorities in your town, city, county, or state for updates to these regulations.

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