It’s common to get enchanted by films like Easy Rider and want to get out on the open road atop a motorcycle. It’s uncommon, however, to actually do something about it, and even fewer know good routes in North America. When the rubber meets the road, you want the best routes in mind. Here’s where to find them.
Carmel to Morro Bay
This stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway doesn’t disappoint when it comes to scenery. Get ready for 120 miles filled with huge redwoods, crashing surf, and California cliffs. It’s best to choose the spring or fall as well as go on a day other than Saturday or Sunday. The Big Sur area is known to get foggy in the summer so do your best to keep tabs on the weather forecast.
Peak to Peak in Colorado
It’s just 60 miles long but there’s a lot to see in that span. Basically, you’re motoring through the heart of the Rocky Mountains. It’s suggested to pack your hiking boots since you’ll want to explore the woods and thick forests of alpines. Lower your speed as you go through so as to avoid native moose and elk.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Travel through North Carolina and Virginia, passing sites of Civil War battles as you make your way into the Smoky Mountains. It’s considered more of a safe passage for cyclists since the route’s speed limit is mostly 45, which provides a chance to take in the scenery without worrying about unsafe motorists. Some opt for a longer, 470-mile ride through Shenandoah National Park, allowing two to three days to ride and walk.
Tail of the Dragon
Can you get through over 300 curves in just 11 miles? It is often heralded as the ultimate cycle ride for thrill seekers in the US. No trucks are allowed on the road so there is less to worry about, but you’ll need to focus in order to test your cornering skills around the turns. It’s suggested, however, to seek the Tail to enjoy the scenes as you pass through North Carolina into Tennessee versus growing too confident and pressing your luck.
The 70 mile stretch of highway is filled with switchbacks and sharp turns. Start in Montana and begin rising above 10,000 feet as you make way to Wyoming. The trail ends at Yellowstone National Park, so you may want to plan your adventure to spend time there. Also, the pass around Cooke City is usually closed due to winter weather between October and May, so you’ll need to check local weather forecasts.
Going to the Sun Road
This is only accessible during the summer months. It’s a highway stretch that resembles a roller coaster track, a 50-mile stretch that has bikers getting above 3,000 feet as they move through Glacier National Park. By the time one gets to the summit at Logan Pass, the highway is 6,600 feet above sea level. Travelers report breathtaking views from the Jackson Glacier Overlook, so bring a pair of binoculars.
Coastal Rt. 1
US Rt. 1 is a monster road but motorcyclists love to carve out the Maine section, traveling from Brunswick to Machias. The ride is a total of 170 miles and takes riders through seaside towns, views of lighthouses, and historic cities. Summer, when the weather is warmest, is not the best time to go. It’s likely the road will be lined with cars filled with travelers trying to get to beach towns in Maine and Massachusetts. It gets cold up in this hemisphere in the fall and winter months, so find appropriate biker apparel at Riders Discount.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Ride
Scenic Byway 12 consists of 124 miles that stretch through Bryce Canyon and into the Petrified Forest State Park. Try to schedule the trip in spring or fall, so you can truly appreciate the full range of colors present in the area. An overnight stay ensures you won’t miss an ember of red or glow of yellow during the sunrise and sunset.
Natchez Trace Parkway
The route takes travelers through Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi and lasts for 450 miles. The stretch is somewhat of a throwback to the past, for it’s lined with Civil War battle sites, historic areas, and the original Natchez Trace Indian Trail. Two things you won’t find on the Trail are stop-signs and trucks. Also, don’t expect to spot many commercial-like stops but you will see plenty of biker-friendly places for food and drinks.
Dylan Bryant is an avid motorcyclist who tries to take off on his bike most weekends, enjoying longer biking vacations twice a year. When he’s not out on the open road you’ll find him reliving his trips through his writing.