There are many beautiful places to ride your sportbike in the US. After examining the best motorcycle roads in America, we came up with the following list of the ten best scenic motorcycle rides in the country.
Our list includes some of the best motorcycle roads in the Midwest, as well as some wonderful east coast motorcycle rides. Whichever part of the country you choose for your next riding adventure, you could experience one of the best motorcycle rides in the U.S. along one of the routes below.
There are a few factors that make a road a great ride for sportbike enthusiasts. Some aspects of a ride will vary from person to person, but some are essential no matter who you are. When looking for the perfect place to ride, there are several things most riders look for. Some of the most crucial are:
Challenging turns. Most riders, especially those at the intermediate and advanced levels, yearn to ride on routes that require more skill. Features such as hairpin turns and quick changes in direction enhance the thrill of a ride.
Smooth roads. For comfort and safety on a motorcycle, smooth terrain is preferable over bumpy or gravely routes. Fortunately, some of the nation's leading routes are maintained annually to ensure riders keep coming back for safe and comfortable rides time and time again.
Scenery. Aside from the adrenaline rush of riding itself, the most enjoyable aspect of a ride along a lengthy bike route is the natural scenery. Along the many miles of a scenic, mountainous route, riders are likely to see rich forests, crystal–clear lakes and rivers, wide valleys, colorful flowers and exotic wildlife.
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The following list compiles the ten best motorcycle roads for sportbikes in the U.S. Most of these routes are for intermediate and advanced riders, but some can also be braved by newer riders. When you are looking for a good ride with beautiful scenery, consider one these routes in the United States:
Comprised of Ranch Roads 335, 336 and 337 in Texas hill country, the Twisted Sisters begin in the town of Medina, Texas and span a great distance of twisty turns and uphill stretches. Don’t let its Texas location fool you — there’s not much flat to this ride.
Along the Twisted Sisters, riders encounter breathtaking views and numerous curves and inclines with hardly any guardrails. Over the course of three roads, riders can stop at several notable roadside attractions, including Stonehenge II, the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum and the Lost Maples State Natural Area. The Twisted Sisters are approximately 100 miles in length — a distance that spans numerous hills and valleys.
With their many hills and curves — approximately 65 curves have been counted along one 15–mile span — the Twisted Sisters are best undertaken by intermediate and advanced riders. The Twisted Sisters stand in marked contrast to the flat–terrain stereotype that out–of–state riders often have of the Texas roads.
Comprising a small portion of U.S. Route 129 in Tennessee and North Carolina, Tail of the Dragon (also called “Deal’s Gap”) is situated along the southeast side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Named because of its dragon–tail shape, the route consists of numerous curves, including the blunt Gravity Cavity and Copperhead Corner.
Due in part to these unique features, Tail of the Dragon is touted as the nation's number one road for motorcycles and sports automobiles. The route is famous among more than just riders — it has been seen in the feature films The Fugitive and Top Gear, as well as numerous television shows. Tail of the Dragon consists of approximately 11 miles along U.S. Route 129.
Containing 318 curves in the span of those 11 miles, Tail of the Dragon is for the advanced rider. Comprised of just two lanes, the speed limit along the route was cut from 55 mph to 35 mph in 2005 to make the experience safer. However, an infamous shrine known as the Tree of Shame — which features the auto parts of motorcycles crashed along the route — serves as a reminder of the challenges posed by Deal's Gap.
Located along a stretch of U.S. Highway 87 in Black Hills, South Dakota, Needles Highway is a great run that spans about 14 to 34 miles depending on the route taken. In the month of August, Needles Highway is used as one of the main routes to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The route is noted for its breathtaking scenery, which includes a variety of the area's wildlife. Creatures such as the antelope, bison, and deer can be spotted along the way.
The route also includes two tunnels made from granite — Iron Creek Tunnel and Needles Eye Tunnel. Unlike other spots, Needles Highway is considered by riders to be especially suited for the motorcycle riding experience. Another great thing about Needles Highway is that it is suitable for riders of all levels. As such, many beginning and intermediate riders have taken this route.
Plan to be amazed when you ride Needles Highway. Often, riders who approach the route at higher speeds slow down upon arrival to take in the scenery.
Situated beside the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Parkway's lower half spans I–77 to Cherokee, NC and spreads across 29 counties in Virginia and North Carolina. It runs approximately 469 miles. While the Parkway can theoretically be ridden in the span of a single day, riders who wish to undertake the full distance are advised to make it a two-day trip.
When you ride, come with a full tank and plan to exit in order to refuel — the parkway does not have any gas stations. Therefore, riders must temporarily exit the parkway to refuel.
Blue Ridge Parkway stretches across rural Virginia, where various local attractions can be witnessed along the route, including vintage mill wheels and Civil War battle sites. During the North Carolina portion of the route, riders can take in views of the Smoky Mountains. Different types of wind–blown trees, such as oak and hickory, can also be seen along the various elevations of the route.
While the Parkway does include various curves and inclines, most of the route features speed limits of 45 miles per hour and lacks larger vehicles such as semis. Blue Ridge Parkway is suitable for advanced as well as intermediate riders.
Situated on State Route 1 between Orange County and Mendocino County in sunny California, the Pacific Coast Highway — as the name implies — runs along the Big Sur coastline and spans approximately 123 miles of the California’s coast.
The Pacific Coast Highway is commonly cited as one of the nations' most scenic routes for motorcycle riders. Along this lengthy stretch of California State Route 1, riders pass miles upon miles of tall green trees, icy blue waves, and lavish estates.
With its blunt turns and abrupt changes in elevation, Pacific Coast Highway is more suited for advanced riders. The route can also be heavily fog–laden, which can be treacherous on a two–lane highway. Consequently, riders must stay focused on the road ahead at all times on Pacific Coast Highway. Weather conditions should be taken into consideration when riding this route as it can affect visibility and road conditions.
Spanning the entirety of Shenandoah National Park from north to south along Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, Skyline Drive serves as the park's only thoroughfare. It spans the entire 105 miles from north to south of Virginia's Shenandoah National Park.
Skyline Drive features 75 overlooks along its length, which gives riders plenty of opportunities to stop and take in some of the scenic beauty of the Shenandoah Valley along the routes east side. Alternately, riders can stop at one of the west–side overlooks for views of Piedmont. Each year, Skyline Drive draws roughly two million riders. Fall is the most popular time of year for Skyline Drive because of the turning of autumn leaves.
The park houses one of the nation's densest populations of black bears. Other wildlife spotted along the route include turkey and the white-tailed deer. Wildflowers line much of the roadside. Its sharp curves, unpredictable wildlife and high levels of traffic, makes Skyline Drive best suited for intermediate and experienced riders. Most of the route has a speed limit of 35 miles per hour.
Running through southwest Colorado's San Juan Mountains, San Juan Skyway is a scenic byway loop that ends right back at the beginning. It spans 233 miles along the San Juan Mountains.
Considered one of the most beautiful sections of the Rocky Mountains, features alongside the Skyway include San Juan National Forest, Dolores River, Bridal Veil Falls, Mount Wilson and various other attractions. Canyons, hot springs and ski resorts are among the many destinations that riders stop to visit along the route.
At the summit of Red Mountain Pass, riders can stop to enjoy views of the area from an elevation of 11,000 feet. Native wildlife in the area include black bears, mountain goats and deer. Visitors have likened the area to the Swiss Alps. San Juan Skyway is primarily for advanced riders due to steep drop–offs, twisty curves and numerous inclines.
Montana's Going-to-the-Sun Road is the only route to pass through Glacier National Park near the Canadian border. The scenic, often wintery terrain of Going-to-the-Sun Road is often marked by sightings of snow–covered peaks and mountain goats.
Snow in the area gets pretty thick during colder months. Consequently, the road closes at certain times of the year for plowing, which can take more than two months to complete during years with heavy snow. The road is generally open from June through October.
With a length of 50 miles, the full span of Going-to-the-Sun Road can be ridden in about two hours. Riders, however, often prefer to stop at campgrounds along the way to take in some of the scenery by foot. With its cold atmosphere and mountainous terrain, Going-to-the-Sun Road is best reserved for intermediate to experienced riders.
Spread between Tellico Plains, Tennessee, and Robbinsville, North Carolina, Cherohala Skyway passes through two forests from which it derives its name — the Cherokee National Forest and the Nantahala National Forest. It spans a 43–mile distance between Tellico Plains and Robbinsville. Cherohala Skyway features several sightseeing stops along the way that offer panoramic views of the area's trees, valleys, and hills.
At the state line rests the Tellico River Valley, which is often descended on by kayakers and trout fishers. The landscape in this area is loved by many for its quaintness, which has remained largely unchanged over time. Plan ahead — no restroom facilities exist along the route.
With its sharp curves and elevations that exceed 5,400 feet, Cherohala Skyway is not for the faint of heart. The road is dark and rarely used after nightfall, and can be treacherous during winter months. Therefore, the Skyway is best suited for more experienced riders.
The Arkansas Pig Trail spans 19 miles of a relatively small stretch of Highway 23. It crosses the Mulberry River and the 165–mile Ozark Highlands Trail. Tucked within the forestry Boston Mountains portion of the Ozarks, the Arkansas Pig Trail is flanked with foliage throughout much of the year. The trial is most popular in the spring and fall seasons, which draw riders from each season with colorful wildflowers and autumn leaves.
The Arkansas Pig Trail also serves as an access route to various camp sites and recreational opportunities, such as rafting and kayaking. The name of the trail is believed to derive from either the pigtail shape of the route or the prevalence of hogs in the area. With its many U–shaped curves and sharp cliffs, the Arkansas Pig Trail is primarily for intermediate and advanced riders.
No matter what your level of experience, be safe when you take to these exciting destinations. A few things to remember before you set out are:
In addition to the ten great motorcycle routes listed here, additional routes that are popular with today's riders include the George Washington Highway in West Virginia, Beartooth Pass in Wyoming and the Tunnel of Trees Road in Michigan. If you have suggestions on other great bike routes across the U.S., talk to us. We would love to hear your suggestions in the comments below!
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