Magazine article Southwest Art

Island Hopping

Magazine article Southwest Art

Island Hopping

Article excerpt

While road trips by car are an American institution, many people are discovering the joys of hitting the road in a different way: by bicycle. A bike trip is a perfect way to slow down and see more of the countryside-and burn more calories to boot.

The San Juan Islands in Washington state are an ideal destination for bicycling. The three main islands-Lopez, Orcas, and San Juan-offer stunning views of rocky beaches, lush forests, and wildlife including dolphins, eagles, and orcas, or killer whales. Bring your own bike or pick up a rental at one of several shops on the islands. First-- time bicycling adventurers will want to head to Lopez Island, where the terrain is fairly flat. On San Juan Island, you'll encounter a combination of flatlands and hills. The hilly landscape of Orcas Island makes it the most challenging of the three, especially the 5-mile ascent to the top of Mt. Constitution. If the ride to the top doesn't take your breath away, the views-of the Canadian Gulf Islands and the Olympic and Cascade mountains-- certainly will.

Interested in hitting the islands by bike but intimidated by the thought of navigating on your own? Consider taking a guided tour. There are several locally-run companies happy to set you up with the right tour for your physical ability, interests, and timeframe. Many national tour organizations also offer tours of the region, including Backroads, a company specializing in active tours. The company offers two versions of its San Juan Islands tour each summer from June through September. Both tours are for six days and five nights and follow similar itineraries. …

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