List your personal "Top 3" gravel races in your home state or country

If someone wanted to travel from out of state to yours to do a gravel race, what are the top 3 races that you would recommend? Big or small, “lifetime grand prix” or “group ride with number plates” - this is your list:

Everyone’s Recommendations (updated Jan 13, 2023):


[Chino Grinder - Chino Valley, AZ: 2023 Date TBD](

Ouachita Challenge - Oden, AR: March 25, 2023













New York

North Dakota

North Carolina




South Carolina

South Dakota








Edit below - originally I titled this post to include either your home state or country. Creating a list by country felt like too big a task so I’ve reduced this to US races only. Absolutely no offense or slight intended towards non USA readers and would encourage anyone to take up that idea on a separate thread. I’m leaving the posts below as they were originally recommended:

Non USA Postings:

My OP below:

I’ll start w/ Michigan:

  1. Barry Roubaix (Hastings, MI) - one of the OG gravel races in the country and still one of the biggest. The date change to April hopefully will make the weather more favorable, but its Michigan so it could be anything. What it will be is an amazing course for all three races, an awesome and welcoming vibe and a well oiled machine in terms of organization and race experience. Registration still open:

  2. Lowell 50 (Lowell, MI) - another OG gravel event in Michigan: there is both a Spring and Fall edition and this is somewhat of a no frills race. However, what you can always count on is challenging courses that are well marked, great competition and again an awesome race experience.

  3. De Ronde van Grampian (Leonard, MI) - brand new event for 2022 and they haven’t posted whether or not they are doing it for 2023…but still making my list of top 3 in the state. Awesome course, great race experience, I drove across the state the morning of to do it and will do it again provided they have it. Here is the link from last year: De Ronde van Grampian Gravel Race p/b KLM/Cold Stone Online Registration

Let’s hear some more recs!


I can’t name just 3!

Just come ride gravel in Iowa!

If you want a large mass start event? Core4 is probably your ticket.

Epic late winter? CIRREM.

Ultra? Iowa Wind and Rock

I could go on and on and on!


In Colorado, I’m certain this will start some controversy, but it just my opinion, and I’m doing top 2:

  1. Ride of the Ancients - Cortez, CO. Fun event in some of the most beautiful scenery in Colorado. Wonderful mountain roads with some fun single track at the end. Not as popular as other events so things don’t get too crowded. Bacon on course was a good addition. Great after party as well.
  2. FoCo Fondo - Fort Collins, CO. Great event, fun party. Great gravel roads, fun promotors and party at the New Belgium Complex after! What’s not to love?!

I’m in Canada, in Nova Scotia we seem to be just getting off the ground with gravel racing but country wide I would say Paris to Ancaster is the biggest. Haven’t done it myself though.

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Also in Colorado (and not counting SBT GRVL):

  1. NedGravel - beautiful scenery, fantastic drop back into town - which you need because that last climb hurts. Nicest weather of any July race I’ve done.

  2. FoCo Fondo - this is my hometown race and it’s awesome for all the reasons that @Chewie mentioned above.

3a. Old Man Winter Rally - It’s in early February so it could be 50F and sunny… could be 15F and white. Heading back for year 3 misery.

3b. Boulder Roubaix - uses the shorter of the Old Man Winter Rally courses but does laps. Also, it’s in April so… it could be 50F and sunny… could be 15F and white :sunglasses: It’s only every-other-year so I expect it to be back in 2024. Best intersection/traffic control of any race I’ve done.


In the UK, it’s probably the Dirty Reiver: 200km in Kielder Forest, which is one of the few bits of genuinely US-style gravel we have in the UK. I’m gutted I missed out for this year.

After that, I’d probably say the Lauf Gritfest in Wales: a full 3 day event, with timed segments.

I’d put the Dukes Weekender in Aberfoyle, Scotland, in at third, though people speak very highly of it.



  1. The Open Range

Amazing race. Perfect setting. Wild terrain. Crosses private ranches. Spectacular views.

  1. Flint Hills Gravel Ride

Kicks off the Kansas season. Just north of Emporia. Covers many roads used in past Unbound (Dirty Kanza).

  1. The Pony Express 2023 Pony Express Gravel Dash 120 Bikepacking

Great event. Small town vibes. Great support.

Honorable Mention:
The Bad Astra

Close to KC. Fast smooth gravel.


I’ll give you two in South Dakota

Pine Island Gravel Odyssey in Spearfish SD

Thunderhawk Wide Open in Lemmon SD on the North Dakota border. Most of the 50 mile course is in ND.

I would guess some good races in eastern SD where more ag land and wide open gravel roads


I cant think of any Gravel Races in Massachusetts. D2R2 is by far the largest gravel event. It’s very well run with a routes ranging from 60km to 180km.
Otherwise I would recommend F2G2 in the fall and Massochistah in the spring


I’m in Georgia. I don’t know that there are any “epic” gravel races but there are a lot of smaller gravel race/events.

Southern Cross (Dahlonega,GA) - 50 miles. 6k+ of climbing.

3g gravel grinduro - another big climbing race in Helen,GA

Lots of other small events that are fine if you’re driving distance to the race. Kissing Bridge, Red Clay Ramble, Maysville Gravel Mayhem, Mulberry Mayhem.

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Great replies so far - keep them coming! Would love to compile a list by state.

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Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder (5 day stage race)
Termed: “Tour de France of Gravel”

Ochoco Gravel Grinder. Varies year to year whether its 1 or 2 days. Its chunky, dangerous, fast, and hard.

Shasta Gravel Grinder (I know its technically NorCal) but I live in Medford and its 40 minutes away. Its great early season long, smoothe, scenic, and very fun. Plus you get to look at Mt. Shasta the whole time.

Honestly all gravel in Oregon is Top Notch…its real gravel…not just 3/4 minus hard pack (although there are races catered to that, too)

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I live in Illinois, but primarily race in Michigan. As far as biking goes, Michigan is my state of residence. For the purposes of this thread I’ll consider myself a dual citizen :wink:

  1. Barry Roubaix. So much has been said about it on this board over the years. It is truly an OG gravel race. I think this upcoming edition will be it’s 15th year (??). It has been left a little off the “major” gravel race radar in recent years because of it lack of “epic-ness”. The original races were 62 and 36 miles … and then somehow gravel became equated with 7 -12 hour grinds. I do the 36 and make no apologies for it. I love it. The Barry represents how ‘gravel’ became ‘GRAVEL’ — roadies went looking for roads that were uncluttered and races they couldn’t get permitted on pavement. Hastings, MI embraced the off season influx of visitors and wrapped its arms around them (much like Emporia, KS) and and institution was born. 80%+ of Michigan roads are gravel (I think I read that somewhere) and Michiganders will fight you if you dare besmirch this race. 4000 riders over 4 distances compete these days, and somehow it retains a local race vibe. The October edition in 2021 (due to the pandemic) will forever live in my memory as the most fun I ever had racing my bike for all sorts of reasons. The March 2022 version is the worst time I ever had racing my bike. I’ll take it all. Pin a number on, rollout of town … and 6 miles in you hit the ‘3 Sisters’ — you’d better be with the lead group over the last kicker, if not … enjoy the scenery — you can salute the bagpipers at the top of The Wall🤘

  2. Rough Road 100; Morris, IL — if you want a gravel race that thinks it’s a road race, this is your gig. It’s flat. It’s fast. And you’ll see tires between 28 and 45. Not a lot of climbing, not a lot of scenery and a deceptively speed sucking 9 mile run to the finish on a surface that defies description: it’s not gravel. It’s not two-track or single track. But it doesn’t like speed. Some might think this is an unremarkable race, but about 10 miles in you climb out of a little river valley and see wind turbines straight to the horizon. And then you realize that they aren’t there because it’s NOT windy :grimacing:

  3. Lowell 50 … as covered by the OP. There is a fast descent about 1.5 miles in which sharply turns at 90-degrees into a river road that eventually becomes a 15% climb on a road that somehow narrows by about 50% of its original width just as it kicks up … and the gravel turns to sand on the shoulders. If you avoided the inevitable crash at that first turn, and made it with the lead group over that first climb, you’re in the race. If not, you’re tasting metal in your mouth and wondering why you ride bikes. True story: my last 3 one-minute power PRs have been set on that 15% climb only 5 miles into the race. My results have reflected that. It’s still a great race. Get to the front at all costs.

Outside looking in:

Moran 166; Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I have a feeling this one is going further up the list next year, but I have yet to do it myself. However, I have never heard reports from a race that are so universally positive. The 66-mile version is my A race in 2023. It’s only 3-4 years old, but organized by Jason and the Bearclaw crew out of Traverse City and apparently they have the race organization dialed.

**My opinions are colored by my preference to never (again) intentionally race my bike more than 4 hours. I like hills that snatch your air. Descents that test your nerve. I believe bikes should be ridden, not carried. I believe that 1 PSI can make the difference between a great day and a terrible one. I don’t like gravel bikes on single-track, I feed from a top-tube bag and I only want to ride through water that comes from the sky, not a river.

I believe in tubeless tires. I believe in dynaplugs instead of bacon strips; mini-pumps instead of Co2 cartridges … and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft wet kisses that last for 3 days🤘



Unpaved of the Susquehanna Valley (aka unPAved). In the fall when the leafs are popping. Not technical (except Longwell Draft) but lots of climbing.

Rothrock Grit. New race that has only been held twice. Great venue, great course, lots of hills. Nice hotel with a pool right by the start venue if bringing the kids.

IronCross. Not really a Gravel Race so much as an everything race. Run-ups, Larry’s Tavern, fun!

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  • Any of the Grasshopper races - these are full blown races - up in NorCal
  • The original BWR down in San Diego
  • Mammoth Tuff - note this is at altitude from about 4,500 to probably 8 or 9,000 feet of elevation
  • Truckee Tahoe Fondo - note this is also at altitude

Indiana/Ohio (I’m on the border)

  1. Dust Bowl 100 Very well run event, great route without much climbing. It’s in its 3rd or 4th year. Registration opens today 1/1/23 at 8am est actually. They bumped up the cutoff this year but last year it sold out in a couple weeks I think.

  2. Gravel Grovel Dinoseries - Gravel Grovel This event has been around a long time, before gravel was “a thing”. Happens the weekend after Thanksgiving. Very climby course and always a good time.

  3. Black Fork Gravel Grinder I went to this for the first time last year and it was an awesome event. Very challenging course elevation wise but short and sweet at 54 miles. Registration just opened at midnight and almost halfway to being sold out. Will be sold out this morning probably. I think reg is capped at 400.


Such a great description of the Lowell 50. This year’s fall edition I opted to stay in my warm car rather than warm up properly and that first hill definitely left me tasting pennies and wondering what I was doing with my life! Awesome reply overall, well done!


Fried Clay 200k is epic!
And the Middle Ga Epic, was epic, before it died (rip)

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Middle ga epic was fun. Fried Clay 200k is on my list

Western NC

Bootlegger 100 in Lenoir NC is truly an epic race. Big climbs, remote endless rollers and a short section or the Blue Ridge Parkway. 105 miles and 11k+ climbing. It is great, and very challenging. Had a good race there once, the second time it completely cracked me.

East TN:
The Waucheesi. Big climbs in Cherokee National Forest, blazing downhill on the Cherohala Skyway. The Waucheesi Bike Race | Tellico Plains, TN (East Tennessee) | Rapid Expeditions