Wanderlust for Dirt Roads

Published online: Jun 18, 2021 Articles, East Idaho Outdoors Karcin Harris
Viewed 2442 time(s)

If ever there were a place surrounded by dirt roads, it’s here. Idaho Falls. 

There are miles upon miles of dirt roads within a short drive from town. Those dirt roads go places. Beautiful places. Here’s a great way to explore those areas.

Eastern Idaho is full of great roads to ride e-bikes, says Ryan Harris, a local businessman. His favorite places to go are in the Swan Valley and Victor areas. 

“If you go to Swan Valley, there’s the Snake River road on the south side of the Snake River,” he said. “You can start at the west end of Swan Valley from Fall Creek Road and ride to the Palisades Dam. You can continue riding around back behind that to Bear Creek and then continue on Jensen Creek and come out in Wyoming if you really wanted to.”

Rides in these areas come with great scenery.

“We like to drive up to Green Canyon and ride bikes on Relay Tower Road. Once you get up on the ridge you can look across the Teton Valley at the Tetons your whole ride. It’s really an amazing view,” Harris said. 

Harris said the number one question he hears about e-bikes is how long the battery lasts. He said it depends on a number of factors, but for this kind of riding it would last for a long ride. 

“If you just go on these dirt road rides that we’re talking about, you can easily do 30-40 miles with a little bit of assist,” he said. “I’ve done rides where we’ve gained 4,000 feet of elevation and do about 12-15 miles. That maxes out the battery capacity. But to just go up to Heise or behind Rexburg and ride dirt roads, you can go 20-40 miles.”

Harris said another question he gets a lot is how much exercise someone can get on an e-bike, which he said is “as much as you want.”

“It’s impossible to not burn calories on an e-bike,” he said. “You’re constantly moving your legs.”

Professional trainers use e-bikes too. Harris said some young motocross athletes are now being trained on e-bikes because it allows them to go on long rides and have their legs constantly moving. 

“It’s actually better cardio and in ways it’s better exercise because you’re not peaking and you’re not pushing your max heart rate the entire ride,” Harris said. “You’re just getting a nice steady, calorie-burning workout.”

Harris also rides regular mountain bikes, and said he prefers to use e-bikes for most rides because it doesn’t require as much time to get conditioned to ride long distances. 

“I have a job, a family and responsibilities, but I still like to be able to take a few hours on an evening and go do a ride and cover some ground,” he said. “The e-bike allows my wife and I to go do a 10-20 mile ride in a couple hours, get in some scenery, fresh air and exercise. It lets me do all that and not completely burn out my lungs or be so sore that I can’t walk the next day.” 

E-bikes have opened up opportunities for quality time with family, Harris said. RZRs and dirt bikes are fun, but come with noise, dust and are more difficult to haul into the mountains, but e-bikes are easy. 

Harris jumped on the e-bike bandwagon in 2015 when he got the first Specialized Turbo Levo in stock at Bill’s Bike & Run in Idaho Falls. E-bikes, or pedal-assist bikes, have battery-powered motors that only kick in when the rider pedals. 

“A lot of people might think that an e-bike just has a throttle and you sit on the bike and you just twist the throttle and it goes for you, that’s not the case,” Harris said. “It only helps you if you pedal. You’re constantly having to pedal. It just makes it easier and makes riding up and down rolling hills feel like riding around the neighborhood.” 

“With the e-bikes we can both go and be outside, and it’s quiet so we’re able to talk,” Harris said. “There’s a lot of hills and steep climbs on dirt roads, but we’re both able to do all of those no problem. On a regular bike we probably wouldn’t get out and ride as far as we do on the e-bikes.”

Now, Harris said he and his wife can enjoy the scenery and land of Eastern Idaho.

“We can leave on an afternoon after work and go ride for a couple hours and grab dinner on the way home,” he said. “We can cover a lot of territory and see a lot of amazing scenery, which is why we live in [Eastern] Idaho. It’s the stuff we have access to in the summers here.” 

Want to learn more about the Specialized Turbo Levo? Contact Bill’s Bike and Run at Snake River Landing (930 Pier View Dr.), 208-522-3341.

1. Upper Rainey Creek Road. Access from Pine Creek Pass parking area. 

2. Snake River Road. Access from Fall Creek Road, west end of Swan Valley. 

3. June Creek Road. Access from Fall Creek Road, west end of Swan Valley. 

4. Radio Relay Road. Access from Green Canyon Road, park south of Green Canyon Hot Springs. 

5. Antelope Creek Road. Access from Highway 26, Antelope Creek Road turnoff. 


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