Best Gravel Races in the U.S.

Gravel racing has experienced a surge in popularity in the United States in recent years. This emerging discipline combines elements of road cycling and mountain biking, offering riders a unique and challenging experience. In this section, we will explore the rise of gravel racing in the US and the reasons behind its increasing popularity.

The rise of gravel racing in the US

Gravel racing, also known as gravel grinding or gravel riding, involves racing on unpaved or gravel roads. What was once a niche activity has now evolved into a full-fledged racing scene, with numerous events taking place across the country. Gravel races vary in distance and difficulty, ranging from shorter, more accessible races to grueling endurance events that can span hundreds of miles.

Why gravel racing is gaining popularity

There are several factors contributing to the growing popularity of gravel racing in the US:

1. Adventure and Exploration: Gravel races allow riders to venture off the beaten path and explore new routes and landscapes. The appeal of discovering hidden gems and experiencing the natural beauty of the countryside is a major draw for many cyclists.

2. Less Traffic and Safer Riding: Gravel roads provide a welcome escape from the busy streets and heavy traffic often encountered on traditional road cycling routes. Riding on gravel roads can offer a safer and more peaceful experience, away from the hustle and bustle of crowded urban areas.

3. Inclusive and Welcoming Community: The gravel racing community is known for its inclusivity and friendly atmosphere. Riders of all levels, from beginners to seasoned professionals, can participate in gravel races and find a supportive community that encourages personal growth and camaraderie.

4. Versatile Equipment: Gravel racing has also benefited from advancements in bike technology, particularly the development of gravel-specific bikes. These bikes are designed to handle diverse terrains, with wider tires for increased stability and comfort. The versatility of these bikes has opened up new possibilities for cyclists to tackle a variety of surfaces and race conditions.

With the rise of gravel racing, there are now numerous races held throughout the year in different parts of the US. Some notable events include the Dirty Kanza in Kansas, the Rebecca’s Private Idaho in Idaho, and the Barry-Roubaix in Michigan. These races attract participants from across the country and offer a mix of competitive racing and unforgettable experiences in stunning landscapes.

Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist looking for a new challenge or a recreational rider wanting to try something different, gravel racing provides an exciting and rewarding opportunity.

The unique blend of adventure, camaraderie, and the thrill of the unknown makes gravel racing an enticing prospect for riders of all backgrounds and abilities. So grab your gravel bike and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey off the beaten path.

Dirty Kanza

The Dirty Kanza is one of the most iconic gravel races in the United States, attracting athletes from around the world. Held in Emporia, Kansas, this challenging race is known for its tough course and extreme conditions.

The race was first organized in 2006 and has since gained a reputation for pushing riders to their limits. It offers different distances to cater to riders of all levels, with options ranging from 25 miles to the grueling 200-mile course. The race is open to both amateurs and professionals, creating a unique and inclusive atmosphere.

Course description and highlights

The Dirty Kanza takes riders through the beautiful Flint Hills region of Kansas, a rugged and scenic area that adds to the challenge and charm of the race.

Course Highlights:

  • Gravel Roads: The course primarily consists of gravel roads, which can be demanding and unforgiving. Riders must navigate rough terrain, including steep climbs and descents, and conquer treacherous stretches of loose gravel.
  • Scenic Beauty: Despite the challenging course, riders are rewarded with stunning views of the vast and picturesque Flint Hills. The rolling prairie landscape provides a breathtaking backdrop throughout the race.
  • Unique Checkpoints: The Dirty Kanza is known for its unique and memorable checkpoints. These pit stops offer riders an opportunity to refuel, recharge, and socialize with fellow participants, creating a sense of camaraderie.
  • Community Support: The race has gained a devoted following, with locals coming out in full force to cheer on the riders. The supportive atmosphere and encouragement from the community contribute to the overall experience of the race.

Participating in the Dirty Kanza is not only a test of physical endurance but also a chance to explore the beautiful landscape of Kansas and connect with fellow riders who share a passion for gravel cycling.

Find more information about the Dirty Kanza race on their official website:

Land Run 100

The Land Run 100 is a renowned gravel race held annually in Stillwater, Oklahoma, attracting gravel cycling enthusiasts from around the United States. Known for its challenging terrain and stunning scenery, the Land Run 100 offers participants an exhilarating and unforgettable race experience.

The race takes place on rough, unpaved roads that wind through the beautiful countryside of Oklahoma. It is a self-supported event, meaning participants must carry their own gear and supplies throughout the race. The Land Run 100 is not just a race, but also an adventure that tests participants both physically and mentally.

Course description and highlights

The Land Run 100 course covers approximately 100 miles of challenging gravel roads, with various terrains and elevation changes along the way. Here are some highlights of the course:

1. Red Dirt Roads: The Land Run 100 is known for its signature red dirt roads, which provide a unique and characteristic riding experience. These roads can be unpredictable, with loose gravel and uneven surfaces challenging participants throughout the race.

2. Rolling Hills: The course takes riders through rolling hills, adding an additional level of challenge. Participants must navigate steep climbs and exhilarating descents, testing their endurance and bike handling skills.

3. Scenic Views: Despite the physical demands of the race, participants are rewarded with breathtaking scenery along the way. The Land Run 100 showcases the natural beauty of Oklahoma, with expansive prairies, picturesque farmlands, and peaceful countryside vistas.

4. Community Support: One of the unique aspects of the Land Run 100 is the incredible support and camaraderie among participants and the local community. Spectators line the course, cheering riders on and providing much-needed encouragement throughout the race.

To learn more about the Land Run 100 race and its challenges, you can visit this link.

Whether you’re a seasoned gravel racer or looking to take on a new challenge, the Land Run 100 is an event that should not be missed. It combines the thrill of competition with the serenity of the countryside, creating an unforgettable experience for all participants.


The SBT GRVL (Steamboat Gravel) race is one of the most popular gravel races in the United States. Taking place in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, this race attracts both amateur and professional cyclists from around the country. With its breathtaking scenery and challenging terrain, the SBT GRVL offers a unique and thrilling racing experience.

The race features three different distances: Black (144 miles), Blue (103 miles), and Green (37 miles). Each distance caters to different levels of experience and fitness, ensuring that there is a suitable challenge for cyclists of all abilities. Participants can choose to compete as individuals or as part of a team.

Course description and highlights

The SBT GRVL course takes riders through the beautiful landscapes of Routt County, Colorado. Participants can expect a mix of dirt roads and doubletrack trails, with some challenging climbs and fast descents along the way. The course showcases the stunning natural beauty of the area, including mountain ranges, rivers, and forests.

Here are some highlights of the SBT GRVL race:

1. Challenging Climbs: The race features several challenging climbs, including the infamous Hahn’s Peak climb, which tests riders’ strength and endurance.

2. Fast Descents: After the challenging climbs, participants get to enjoy exhilarating descents, where they can pick up speed and challenge their bike handling skills.

3. Aid Stations: Throughout the course, well-stocked aid stations provide participants with water, nutrition, and mechanical support to ensure a safe and enjoyable race experience.

4. Epic Finish: The race finishes in the heart of downtown Steamboat Springs, where participants are greeted by cheering crowds and a festive atmosphere. It’s a memorable and rewarding end to an incredible race.

The SBT GRVL race is not only about the competition but also about the camaraderie and the love for gravel cycling. Participants are encouraged to support and motivate each other, creating a sense of community and shared passion for the sport.

To learn more about the SBT GRVL race, you can visit their official website here.

Whether you’re a seasoned gravel racer or a beginner looking for a new challenge, the SBT GRVL race is definitely one to consider. With its beautiful scenery, challenging course, and supportive community, this race promises an unforgettable experience for all participants.

Belgian Waffle Ride

The Belgian Waffle Ride is one of the most challenging and beloved gravel races in the United States. Known for its punishing climbs, technical descents, and unpredictable weather, this race attracts both professional and amateur riders looking for a unique and demanding experience.

The event takes place in San Diego, California, and offers multiple distance options to accommodate a wide range of abilities and fitness levels. Whether you’re a seasoned gravel racer or a first-timer looking for an adventure, the Belgian Waffle Ride is sure to test your limits and leave you with unforgettable memories.

Course description and highlights

The Belgian Waffle Ride course takes riders on a challenging journey through the picturesque landscapes of San Diego County. Here are some key highlights of the course:

1. Climbs and Descents: The race features several grueling climbs, including the infamous Double Peak, a 1-mile ascent with an average gradient of 10%. Riders will also tackle technical descents, with winding roads and rough terrain adding an extra layer of difficulty and excitement.

2. Unpaved Roads: As a gravel race, the Belgian Waffle Ride includes sections of unpaved roads, adding an element of adventure and requiring riders to navigate loose gravel and uneven surfaces. These sections test riders’ bike-handling skills and provide a unique and challenging riding experience.

3. Beautiful Scenery: Despite the demands of the course, riders will have the opportunity to enjoy breathtaking scenery along the way. The race takes riders through stunning landscapes, including rolling hills, picturesque valleys, and scenic coastal views.

4. Waffle Feed Zones: True to its name, the Belgian Waffle Ride features waffle feed zones where riders can refuel with delicious Belgian waffles and other tasty treats. These feed zones not only provide much-needed energy but also add a fun and festive atmosphere to the event.

5. Competitive Atmosphere: The Belgian Waffle Ride attracts top-level professional riders, making it a highly competitive event. However, the race also welcomes riders of all skill levels, creating a supportive and encouraging atmosphere that encourages camaraderie and a sense of accomplishment.

If you’re up for the challenge and want to take part in one of the most exciting and demanding gravel races in the United States, the Belgian Waffle Ride is a must-consider. Be prepared for a demanding and exhilarating experience that will test your skills, endurance, and determination.

Crusher in the Tushar

The Crusher in the Tushar is a renowned gravel race held in the beautiful Tushar Mountains of Utah. Known for its challenging terrain and stunning vistas, this race attracts gravel enthusiasts from all over the United States. Here is an overview of the Crusher in the Tushar race, along with some course highlights to pique your interest.

The Crusher in the Tushar is a gravel race that takes place in mid-summer, typically in July. It offers participants a unique and demanding experience, as they navigate a mix of paved and dirt roads through the high-altitude landscape of the Tushar Mountains. The race covers a distance of approximately 70 miles, with a significant amount of climbing and descending along the way.

This race attracts a diverse crowd, including professional cyclists, gravel enthusiasts, and avid adventurers, all looking for a challenging and rewarding gravel experience. Participants can choose between various categories, including men’s and women’s open categories, as well as age-group divisions.

Course description and highlights

The Crusher in the Tushar course is known for its demanding terrain and breathtaking scenery. Here are some of the key highlights of the course:

1. Climbing Challenges: The race includes several challenging climbs, including the infamous Col d’Crusher and the Hardscrabble climb. These ascents test participants’ climbing abilities and offer stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.

2. Technical Descents: The course also features technical descents, with sections of loose gravel, dirt, and rocky terrain. Riders must navigate these descents with skill and precision, adding an extra element of excitement to the race.

3. Altitude and Thin Air: As the race takes place in the high-altitude Tushar Mountains, riders must also contend with the effects of thin air. This adds an additional challenge to the race, testing riders’ endurance and mental toughness.

The Crusher in the Tushar has gained a reputation for being a tough yet rewarding gravel race. Participants not only test their physical abilities but also get to experience the stunning natural beauty of the Tushar Mountains. Whether you’re a seasoned gravel racer or looking for a unique cycling challenge, the Crusher in the Tushar is an event to consider participating in.

For more information on the race and how to register, you can visit the official Crusher in the Tushar website. Get ready for an unforgettable gravel experience in the heart of Utah’s breathtaking landscape!


After exploring some of the best gravel races in the US, it’s clear that there are plenty of thrilling and challenging events for gravel enthusiasts. However, when choosing a gravel race to participate in, there are several key factors to consider. These factors will ensure that you have a memorable and enjoyable experience during the race.

Key factors to consider when choosing a gravel race:

1. Distance: Determine the distance that suits your fitness level and goals. Gravel races can range from shorter distances of 50 miles to ultra-endurance events that exceed 200 miles. Make sure to choose a distance that challenges you but is also within your capabilities.

2. Terrain: Consider the type of terrain the race covers. Gravel races can involve a variety of surfaces, including dirt roads, muddy paths, rocky trails, and more. Choose a race that matches your skill level and preferences when it comes to navigating different terrains.

3. Race Difficulty: Examine the race’s elevation profile and overall difficulty level. Some races are known for their steep climbs, technical descents, or challenging conditions. Be honest with yourself about your abilities and choose a race that aligns with your skills and training.

4. Support and Aid Stations: Check if the race provides adequate support and aid stations throughout the course. This is crucial for long-distance races, as it ensures you have access to water, food, and mechanical support when needed.

5. Race Atmosphere: Consider the overall atmosphere and vibe of the race. Some races may prioritize competitiveness, while others focus on camaraderie and community. Choose a race that aligns with your preferences and goals for the experience.

6. Registration and Costs: Look into the registration process and associated costs. Some races may have limited spots available or require early registration. Additionally, consider the overall costs, including entry fees, accommodation, and travel expenses.

By considering these key factors, you can choose a gravel race that suits your goals, abilities, and preferences. Whether you’re seeking an intense and challenging race or a more relaxed and scenic experience, the US offers a variety of options for gravel enthusiasts.

Remember to train adequately, prepare your equipment, and enjoy the journey. Gravel races provide a unique and exciting opportunity to explore the beautiful landscapes of the US while challenging yourself both physically and mentally. So, lace up your gravel cycling shoes, hit the gravel roads, and embark on an unforgettable adventure in the world of gravel racing.

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