One of the greatest benefits of owning a motorcycle is going for those beautiful scenic rides. We’ve put together a list of ten of the best rides in North America.
Pacific Coast Highway: California
The Pacific Coast Highway is a scenic roadway unlike any other. The highway extends along pretty much the entire California coast from Malibu to the Oregon border and beyond. The highway features crashing surf, hairpin turns, redwood forests, beaches, frequent turnouts for enjoying the breathtaking views, and the most notable part of this ride, Big Sur. Big Sur’s Cone Peak is the highest coastal mountain in the contiguous 48 states, ascending nearly a mile above sea level.
Peak to Peak Highway: Colorado
The Peak to Peak Highway begins at CO Highway 7 in Estes Park and passes through Lily Mountain and Twin Sisters, where it continues south past Allenspark, Nederland, Blackhawk and Clear Creek Canyon. This 55 mile route provides unrivaled views of the Continental Divide as you pass along the Rocky Mountain National Park, Golden Gate Canyon State Park, Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, and Eldora Ski Resort.
Blue Ridge Parkway: North Carolina and Virginia
The Blue Ridge Parkway is an iconic mountain route that is sure to be on quite a few motorcyclists must ride lists. The Blue Ridge Parkway spans 469 miles in length across Virginia and North Carolina alongside the Blue Ridge Mountains. In the northern section, the route passes through Civil War battle sites and plenty of rustic countryside. As you move south, you climb into the Great Smoky Mountains. Since the elevation changes throughout the ride, the trees along the ride change from oak to hickory to conifers. These same elevation changes, along with numerous sharp curves cause the top speed of Blue Ridge Parkway to be 45mph.
Beartooth Highway: Montana and Wyoming
Beartooth Highway is a stretch of US Route 212 that takes you on a roller-coaster ride beginning at Red Lodge, Montana and travelling up through Beartooth Pass (nearly 11,000 feet) in Wyoming. The steep road consists of zigzags, hairpins, and switchbacks, as you twist through rocky mountains, glaciers, and wildflower alpine meadows. The 69 mile highway is typically only open from mid-May to mid-October, as it is otherwise usually closed due to snow. We recommend checking the weather forecast before riding off as this route is known for its thunderstorms and heavy winds and can even see snowstorms during the summertime.
Tail of the Dragon: North Carolina and Tennessee
The Tail of the Dragon or the Dragon, also known as Deal’s Gap is widely considered one of the most challenging roadways you’ll ever navigate. This road, resembling a dragon’s tail, claims fame to over 300 curves spanning across 11 miles of US Route 129, the sharpest nicknamed Gravity Cavity and Copperhead Corner. The challenging highway takes riders for a wild ride through Great Smoky Mountains and the Cherokee National Forest. We advise taking extra caution while taking this ride on the Dragon as there are plenty of blind corners and a speed limit of 35mph.
Skyline Drive: Georgia
The Skyline Drive is 105 miles long and runs north to south as the only public road through Shenandoah National Park. The Skyline features 75 overlooks that peer out into the Shenandoah Valley to the east and the Piedmont to the West. Skyline Drive attracts over two million visitors annually, with most of them visiting in the fall due to the changing leaves. With the traffic, curves of the road, and an abundance of wildlife, the speed limit on the Skyline is 35mph. Deer, black bears, and wild turkeys are frequently sighted along the road, as the park is known to have one of the densest black bear populations in the United States. Watch carefully as you curve around the Skyline for animals who may dart across your path and be sure to remain in your vehicle if you pull off the Drive to get a closer look of all the wildlife Shenandoah has to offer.
Going to the Sun Road: Montana
This epic 50 mile stretch is the only road that cuts through Montana’s Glacier National Park and takes you on an up and down thriller full of twists and turns. The two hour ride climbs 3,000 feet from Lake McDonald to the 6,646-foot summit at Logan Pass. Make a stop at the Jackson Glacier Overlook to take in the jaw-dropping views, as well as stopping at any of the five Glacier Park campgrounds located along the road. We suggest having binoculars on hand as you may have the opportunity of spotting some of the park’s wildlife, such as bighorn sheep and mountain goats. This route is only accessible during the summer months, and we advise checking the weather before hitting the road.
Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument Ride: Utah
The scenic drive on Highway 12 snakes through the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument for about 130 miles as it passes through Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef National Parks, and the Petrified Forest State Park. Absorb the mind-blowing sights of multi-colored formations, buttes, canyons, cliffs, and mesas along the twisting route. This region has been home to Native American peoples since the ancient times. We recommend allowing at least 2 days to complete this drive, including an overnight in the region to savor the sensational colors of the sunrise and sunset.
Natchez Trace Parkway: Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi
Prior to being Natchez Trace Parkway, this route was built in the 1930s and was originally used as migratory trail for buffalo and later used by Native Americans. The two-lane Parkway now offers riders 444 miles of astounding scenery and history, while prohibiting commercial traffic and carrying a speed limit of 50mph. The ride will carry you back into the past with Civil War battle sites, ghost towns, and parts of the original Natchez Trace Indian Trail. The scenery provides a kaleidoscope of rolling farmlands, cypress swamp, and Spanish moss hanging from trees. Since this route prohibits commercial traffic, you will not find any commercial services along the ride.
The Three Sisters/Twisted Sisters: Texas
The three sisters or twisted sisters is a grouping of three Ranch Roads 335, 336, and 337 in the Texas Hill Country. The Twisted Sisters takes riders through a 100 mile-loop curving around canyons and rises with very few guardrails. It is said that one 15-mile stretch of the route contains about 65 curves. The route provides panoramic views as it goes through Texas ranches, valleys, and hills. The route features several roadside attractions, including the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum, Stonehenge II, Frio Canyon Motorcycle Stop, and Lost Maples State Natural Area.
Have a favorite road that didn’t make this list? Share your favorite rides with us.