Top Motorcycle Roads in the United States
Last updated Monday, September 19th, 2022
The Most Scenic Roads for the Motorcycle Enthusiast
If you’re a motorcycle enthusiast you probably fall in love with the exhilaration of driving these beautiful machines. One of the benefits of driving a motorcycle is the feeling of being closer to nature. With that in mind, we have come up with a list of our top motorcycle roads in the United States. These are the top 15 bucket list drives for motorcycle enthusiasts in all of us.
Stretching between Red Lodge and the northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park, the 69-mile Beartooth Highway was called “the most beautiful drive in America” by the late CBS correspondent Charles Kuralt. It runs along the Montana-Wyoming border, reaching its highest point at 10,947 feet at the Beartooth Pass in Wyoming, where it gets its name.
Due to heavy snowfall, the highway is only open from mid-May to mid-October, depending on weather conditions. Beartooth Highway passes through parts of Custer, Shoshone, and Gallatin national forests, making for gorgeous views of evergreens to add to the stunning mountain overlooks. It boasts 10,000 mountain lakes, 20 peaks, and 12 national forest campgrounds, so there is plenty to see no matter what you like. The road is full of sheer drops and hairpin turns for an exciting but challenging ride.
Blue Ridge Parkway
America’s longest linear park at 469 miles, the Blue Ridge Parkway runs through Virginia and North Carolina, connecting Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It mostly follows the spine of the Blue Ridge, a mountain chain that is part of the Appalachians.
Because of the variable weather in the mountains, conditions and closures often shift rapidly. The route is peppered with pull-offs, rest areas, and scenic overlooks. There are plenty of great places to check out along the way, like the Virginia Museum of Transportation and the Peaks of Otter Winery.
Blue Ridge Parkway is said to be a slow-paced and relaxing ride, in contrast to some of the adrenaline-fueled routes found in other places. This is great for taking the time to enjoy the sprawling forests along the mountains, which make an especially stunning site in the fall.
The 43-mile Cherohala Skyway gets its name from the Cherokee and Nantahala national forests that it passes through. It has multiple scenic vistas and overlooks in both Tennessee and North Carolina, as well as offering access to the Citico Creek Wilderness, the Bald River Gorge Wilderness, and the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest.
With sweeping forest views on the mountainside, this route is breathtaking and is considered one of the best-kept secrets of North American rides. There are a number of hiking trails to see, as well as picnic tables overlooking the mountains, so feel free to pack a lunch.
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Also called the Sun Road, this is the only road that traverses Glacier National Park in Montana. The approximately 50-mile stretch was the first road to be registered as all of the following: National Historic Place, National Historic Landmark, and Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
As it is extremely difficult to snowplow, it is generally only open from early June to mid-October. The road is completely paved, but can still be a tricky drive due to narrow lanes and many turns. It takes at least two hours to traverse the whole route. The view from one side of the road is very different from the view on the other, so it is worth traveling in both directions. Wildlife sightings are common, especially earlier in the day.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
A 124-mile tour of national monuments, this route shows some of the best scenery Utah has to offer. It passes through Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef, ducking under several arch tunnels along the way. The parks offer lots of activities for visitors, so be sure to check those out if you have the time.
The views of canyons, sandstone cliffs, and forests make this a gorgeous route even without the park-sanctioned fun, though. The road passes through the Dixie National Forest multiple times as well. It gets its name from the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, a sequence of sedimentary rock layers that stretches from Bryce Canyon National Park through Zion National Park and ends in the Grand Canyon.
The layers are said to resemble a staircase. At the top of the plateaus, you can see a panoramic view of the monument.
Natchez Trace Parkway
This 444-mile parkway commemorates the Natchez Trace and preserves parts of the original trail. It begins in Natchez, Mississippi, and briefly cuts through Alabama before ending in Nashville, Tennessee.
Commercial traffic is prohibited along the parkway, and it has been designated an All-American Road. It offers views of forests, farmland, and creeks, with plenty of places to stop and take in the view along the way. There are a number of biker-friendly accommodations as well.
Needles Highway is the northern 14 miles of South Dakota Highway 87, passing through Custer State Park. Along with US 16A, the highway is part of the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway. Parts of it are also a portion of the Wildlife Loop in the park.
The highway is named after the large granite “needles” found along the road. Possibly the most famous is the Needle’s Eye, which has an “eye” worn into it by years of erosion. Part of the highway does require a Custer State Park entrance license, making that section a toll road. Along the road, you can see evergreen forests, sprawling meadows, and granite mountains.
Northwest Passage Scenic Byway
Previously called the Lewis and Clark Highway, the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway extends from the Washington state line to the Montana state line across Idaho.
As Idaho’s longest byway, it spans 202 miles, approximately following the route of the Lewis and Clark expedition. There are a number of historical markers along the route, commemorating sites discovered on the Lewis and Clark expedition, among many others. It also passes through the Nez Perce Reservation, which offers multiple historic sites and opportunities to learn. Besides history, the route offers views of forests, rivers, and rock formations.
Pig Trail Scenic Byway
The Pig Trail Scenic Byway is a 19-mile section of Arkansas Highway 23. It winds through the Boston Mountains region of the Arkansas Ozark Mountains. The route is especially popular in spring, due to the wildflowers, and in autumn, due to the colorful foliage. It is often associated with football fans, as it is a popular route for fans headed to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Along the way, you can see forests and mountains, as well as the beautiful Mulberry River, which offers whitewater rafting for adrenaline junkies.
San Juan Mountain Skyway
This 236-mile loop crosses through five million acres of the San Juan and Uncompahgre national forests in Colorado. It is known for the incredible fall colors of the aspen trees along the route. As well as scenery, the skyway also boasts many historical features, like mines and ghost towns. There are also a number of pueblo ruins along the way. Besides those, travelers can see soaring mountains covered in aspen forests.
The elevation changes have given this road the name “the road to the sky,” as it winds through the mountains. Although the whole route can be driven in about five hours, it is recommended to allow much more time so you can stop along the way. There are plenty of places designed to draw in tourists. This byway is one of six All-American Roads that is recognized for outstanding scenic, geologic, and historic sites.
State Route 1
A coastline ride like no other, this 655-mile route is on the top of many bikers’ lists. The challenging California road is full of hairpin turns and steep drop-offs. It offers ocean views and mountain views, with lots of places to stop and enjoy them.
It can be a remote ride, with large stretches lacking gas stations and cell phone service, but it is worth it for the scenery – just make sure to plan ahead! It is recommended to allow about three days to fully enjoy everything the trip has to offer.
State Route 36
California’s beautiful State Route 36 is a 248-mile stretch running east to west across the state. It passes through the northern edge of Sacramento Valley, past Lassen Volcanic National Park and Lake Almanor. The portion passing the park is part of the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, a National Scenic Byway. The section of State Route 36 between Alton and Susanville is designated as a Blue Star Memorial Highway.
The road famously has over 1,800 curves in just 140 miles, making it a treacherous drive if not 100% focused, but also making it a great route for the biker who wants a challenge. However, it can be dangerous, especially at night or in bad weather, so exercise caution.
It takes about 6 hours to travel this route, but it is a rewarding one! Some bikers even claim this to be the best motorcycle road in California or even on the West Coast. The forested mountains and natural rock formations are a sight to behold, with plenty of overlooks to pull off and take some photos.
Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap
This 11-mile stretch of road in Tennessee is said to have 318 curves, with the sharpest having names like Copperhead Corner, Wheelie Hell, and Beginner’s End, among others.
The name of the road comes from its curves being said to resemble a dragon. Deals Gap also extends into North Carolina, with the pass located at the state line. The road itself, considered to be one of the most exciting drives in America, is the main attraction here, although the woods do offer some scenic views.
There are overlooks where you can pull off and admire the Smoky Mountains and Cheoah Dam, however. Many riders recommend driving the road and then taking some time to admire the views, as Tail of the Dragon usually demands all of your focus.
Tunnel of Trees Road
The Tunnel of Trees Road is aptly named for the canopy of hardwoods and evergreens arching over the route, making this an especially gorgeous fall drive. The 20-mile stretch in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula is dotted with small shops and restaurants to attract tourists.
Besides those attractions, the route also has a rich history, boasting museums, historic landmarks, and parks that make for great stops along the way. Although the route may not take long to drive, it is recommended to stop and enjoy any place that catches your eye, so make sure to plan enough time for a leisurely trip.
The route also runs alongside Lake Michigan, so be sure to get in some waterfront activities like swimming or boating while you’re in the area. The main attraction is definitely the Tunnel itself, however, which is chock-full of scenery that looks straight out of a painting.
If you can, it is recommended to drive the Tunnel in different seasons, so you can truly see everything it has to offer. The sunlight filtering through the green leaves in summer, the newly emerged buds in the spring, the explosions of color in the fall – this is a great ride for a nature lover.
The Twisted Sisters
This 100-mile Texas loop is said to be one of the most challenging routes in the state, but also one of the best. The route gets its name because it is actually three roads – the “sisters”.
Following canyons and steep hills, it is full of tight curves and sheer drop-offs. Plenty of Texans cite this route as a reminder that not all of the state is flat farmland full of straight roads.
While a great ride, beginners are encouraged to use caution. There are biker-friendly accommodations along the route, in Rio Frio, Leaky, and Lakehills, so don’t feel the need to complete the trip all at once.
There is plenty to see along the way, including the Lost Maples State Park, Garner State Park, Lone Star Motorcycle Museum, and the Frio Canyon Motorcycle Stop. The road itself offers views of ranches, mountains, canyons, and rivers.
If you’re lucky, you may get to see some wildlife or even cattle making their way across the road. This is a great ride for a biker looking to explore what Texas has to offer.