As much as we appreciate motorcycles as a form of commuter transportation, we’re also not excited about the prospect of using our bikes solely to weave through traffic. Sometimes, it’s relaxing and even cathartic to push the limits on the open road. But, not any stretch of pavement will do if you want to make the most out of your ride.
All around the United States, there are excellent expanses of asphalt on which to really open up your bike and go for a good, long, uninterrupted ride. Though, there are a few that stand out as especially magnificent – for their scenery as well as their twists, turns, hills, and dips. we’ve rounded up our absolute favorites from sea to shining sea in the following list of the best motorcycle roads in the USA.
Montana & Wyoming
Once called “the most beautiful drive in America”, by journalist Charles Kuralt, Beartooth Highway (Beartooth Pass or Beartooth All-American Road, alternatively) is the highest elevation paved road in the northern Rocky Mountains. Not only does that mean it is a remote and smooth ride (nigh-untouched asphalt), but it also means it’s one of the best roads on which to lose yourself in the local scenery. The location of Beartooth Highway also comes with a bit of a downside, however, as it is closed for several months out of the year due to heavy snowfall and freezing conditions. Still, when it is open from the Spring through Fall, this is definitely one of the most serene rides in America, if not the world.
Length: 68.7 Miles
Blue Ridge Parkway
North Carolina & Virginia
Clocking in at nearly 500 miles in total, the Blue Ridge Parkway is nicknamed “America’s Favorite Drive” for a reason. Interestingly enough, this road starts right by Shenandoah National Park and ends at Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Both National Parks worth visiting whether or not you ride your motorcycle between them. Better still, besides the gorgeous Appalachian scenery, the winding country road is also dotted with numerous hiking trails, campsites, orchards, bars and restaurants… you name it and it can probably be found along this route. Of course, if you’d rather hoof it, the Appalachian Trail through hike also follows a similar route through this part of the U.S.A.
Length: 469 Miles
Cherohala Skyway in Tennessee certainly stands on its own as a great driving road. And many folks like to tackle it as a stand-alone ride. But, if you really want to make the most out of a day’s ride atop your cafe racer or touring motorcycle, you can actually create a loop out of this road and the famous Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap. It’s a full day – and a difficult one – but the unique fact that two of the greatest motorcycle riding roads in the world are in such close proximity means that it is a fairly simple prospect to squeeze every possible bit of fun out of your two-wheeler in a relatively short amount of time. Of course, if you’re in the area for more than a day, why not do it more than once?
Length: 43 Miles
Even if Going-To-The-Sun Road wasn’t paved – which it is, smooth as silk we might add – it would still rank amongst the best motorcycle riding roads in the entire world for one simple reason: it’s the only major paved road that goes through Glacier National Park, which also happens to be one of the most beautiful National Parks in the entirety of the United States. But here’s the best part: even if it didn’t go through the park, this road would still be an excellent ride with its smooth asphalt, decent number of fairly difficult twists and turns, and moderate length. As is the case with many of the roads on our list, this one isn’t terribly long (just about 50 miles), but it can be easily paired with other roads in the area to create a full day’s worth of riding.
Length: 49.71 Miles
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Even if you just visit the park on foot, the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a sight to behold. Though, you’ll certainly cover a lot more ground on a motorcycle and, by proxy, get to take in a lot more of the beauty that permeates the area. There are actually a few different roads and routes around this National Monument, and at least one that suits every type of rider. There are even some stretches that have no pavement of which to speak – which is especially enticing to those onboard a dual sport or an adventure motorcycle. Whatever you ride, however, this is a ride worth tackling. Even if just for a few glorious miles.
Length: 120+ Miles
Natchez Trace Parkway
Alabama, Mississippi, & Tennessee
One of the easier and more leisurely rides on our list, the Natchez Trace Parkway also has a bit of history attached to it, as it follows a centuries-old pathway 444 miles through the woods of Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee that was originally used by prehistoric animals, then Native Americans, and, eventually, settling Europeans. In fact, along sections of this road (though off the paved portions), parts of the original dirt trail are still intact. If you’re in the mood for a multi-state ride and you want to get a bit of history and take in the natural scenery, a more serene ride is hard to find.
Length: 444 Miles
As any even moderately serious motorcycle rider could tell you, the Sturgis motorcycle rally is the largest gathering of bikers in the U.S. And, since it’s held in Sturgis, South Dakota, that also means one of the potential routes that takes you to the event is South Dakota’s Needles Highway. But, even when Sturgis is over, this road is still an excellent ride – thanks both to the beauty of the natural landscape around and the not-so-natural landmarks along the way. For instance, Mount Rushmore is off of Needles Highway, which is reason enough for some to take this road. Whether you’re looking for a killer day or two of riding on your motorcycle or you want to take in the natural and historical sights and sounds, this road is superb.
Length: 37.89 Miles
Northwest Passage Scenic Byway
Idaho, Montana, & Washington
If you guessed that the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway follows the same path originally forged by explorers Lewis & Clark, you’d be exactly right. And that particular tidbit of information elevates this road to more than just a great motorcycle riding stretch of asphalt, due to the cultural and historical significance. Especially when the road is devoid of other travelers, this path can feel like time traveling back to when the West was yet to be settled. Better still, if you’re looking for some things to do besides ride, this route is dotted with all measure of other activities from scenic overlooks, to whitewater rafting, to hunting, and so much more.
Length: 202 Miles
Pig Trail Scenic Byway
Don’t let the name fool you – this isn’t just some dirt path frequented by wild boars, although there is reason to believe that’s where the name initially came from. Technically, this road stretches for just 19 miles along Arkansas State Route 23 through Ozark National Forest – though savvy motorcycle riders will realize there are plenty of worthwhile roads in the same area that can be added on to make a day-long loop out of the ride. Whatever the case, this is a beautiful and serene ride – especially in the fall when the colors change – and isn’t too challenging that inexperienced riders can’t make the most of it, though it’s not so boring that the most seasoned bikers can’t enjoy it, too.
Length: 129.9 Miles
San Juan Mountain Skyway
Though the full stretch of road clocks in at 233 miles in length, there’s a roughly 25-mile section between the towns of Ouray & Silverton, Colorado that’s known as the “Million Dollar Highway.” The reason for the moniker is simple: this stretch of road offers up some of the most breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains, thanks to the fact that it hugs the sides of the very mountains through which it runs. Those views are not without risk, however, as the winding trail can be treacherous on both sides – with a steep drop on one and the risk of falling rocks on the other. In inclement weather, you’ll want to steer clear of this road, but – once the sun comes up – hop on your motorcycle and prepare yourself for the ride of your life.
Length: 233 Miles
State Route 1
Colloquially known as Pacific Coast Highway, this north-to-south road traces practically the entirety of California’s oceanic edge – making it both one of the most beautiful and heavily trafficked stretches of pavement in the entire world. It’s an extremely easy ride because of slower-than-average speed limits, the fact that it cuts through a great many small towns and bigger cities, and its overwhelming popularity, but that doesn’t mean it is without danger – so keep an eye out for your fellow motorists on this road. It’s also important to keep in mind that, while you don’t have to tackle the entire 656-mile stretch, even a short ride on PCH requires patience and a good deal of free time for proper enjoyment.
Length: 655.8 Miles
State Route 36
If a coastal cruise along one of the most famous roads in the world isn’t really your style, California still has plenty more to offer. For instance, State Route 36 – which stretches just shy of 250 miles east-to-west between Fortuna and Susanville – leaves the coast out of the ride entirely, opting instead for a windy mountain route through California’s famous redwoods. It’s not the most difficult of motorcycle roads on our list, but we still suggest that any riders exercise caution, as the twists and turns along SR 36’s mountainous path are blind in some places and it can be easy to get distracted by the scenery surrounding the asphalt.
Length: 248.9 Miles
Tail of the Dragon At Deals Gap
At 11 miles in length, The Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap is by far the shortest ride on our entire list. But, would you believe that it’s also the most challenging? Because it is. You see, this incredibly short ride manages to pack in a whopping 318 curves in that short distance – promising to be a ride you will never forget. But, unless you’re extremely experienced onboard a motorcycle, we’d suggest saving this ride for another time because, as you might imagine, this devilish collection of twists and turns can be violently unforgiving to any rider out of their depth. If you’re ready for the ultimate challenge, however, this is the road for you.
Length: 11 Miles
Tunnel of Trees Road
Alternatively known as M-119, this state highway traces Michigan’s western coast toward the northern tip of the state’s mitten-shaped southern land mass. At under 30 miles, it isn’t the longest ride on this list by a long shot, but this beautiful stretch of road makes up for it with gorgeous scenery from tip to tail – especially if you take the ride during the fall when the leaves are changing. Plus, as it’s a part of Michigan’s greater highway system, it’s easy to work this route into a larger and longer loop. It is, however, both a heavily trafficked and narrow stretch of road, so be prepared to be patient if you do take the trip.
Length: 27.55 Miles
The Twisted Sisters
Second only to the Tail of the Dragon at Deal’s Gap, the Twisted Sisters loop in Texas is both one of the most challenging and most rewarding rides on this list. The 100-mile loop consists of three state routes – TX 335, TX 336, & TX 337 – and takes you around the Texas hill country through a series of grueling twists, turns, drops, and steep climbs. And while we’d not suggest tackling this stretch of pavement unless you are an exceedingly experienced rider, there’s no denying the allure of such a challenge. For the most die-hard fans of 2-wheeled road trips, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Length: 100 Miles
Best Race Tracks In The USA
For those who would rather put the pedal to the metal without the worry of other slower drivers and riders on the road, you can forgo the public highways and opt instead for one of the best race track in America.