The Nine Greatest Places in the United States to Ride Your Motorcycle
I’ve ridden all around the country, and I tend to prefer the Midwest for the all-round combination of scenery and the rugged landscape, but these destinations have their own special thrills to offer and come highly recommended.
9. The Tail of the Dragon, this stretch of US 129 is the 318-proof shot of twisties over the course of 11 miles. It’s sure to challenge any rider as it move through North Carolina into Tennessee. The roads which bring you to the Dragon’s Tail are nothing if not scenic. It may not be a road for the novice rider as the bends are so close together there’s rarely time for gawking. At Deal’s Gap, you can take a break for a beer and enjoy the hard-tack, low-rent offerings of a highway stop with real, lowdown character.
8. The Pigs Trail Scenic Byway makes its way through Arkansas and the Ozark National Forest. The route is so-named for being a short cut from I-40 to Fayetteville and the home of the Arkansas Razorbacks. Soo-eee, hog. The 13-mile-long ride from Breashears to Turner Bend on Highway 23 finds you leaning over – alot – through a ton of slow hairpin turns. Rocky cliffs, steep drop offs, views of the river and enough wildlife to prove hazardous will take you all the way to Hot Springs and a relaxing hot bath…
7. The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway leading to New Orleans is truly a monster, and while a tad dull after awhile, it’s the longest bridge in the world. Starting off from the seaside at Mandeville, the causeway ends a mind-numbing 28 miles later in Metaire, La., a New Orleans suburb with some superb scenery of its own. It might take you some time to get there, but seeing the Crescent City loom on the horizon is not to be missed.
6. Route 66 was once the Great American Highway and covered the ground from Chicago, IL to Los Angeles, CA in the days before you had long, boring strips of interstate to look forward to on a trip. There’s so much “Americana” along the way you’ll be glad to finally see the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX. The line of Cadillacs standing on their hoods in the dust will surely remind you that you don’t mess with Texas.
5. The Blue Ridge Parkway is 433 miles of Tourism Bureau Heaven. It starts – and oddly enough ends – in east Chattanooga, Tenn. Out to Cleveland and then north east to the Foothills Parkway and Gatlinburg through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Cherokee, N.C.
Real purty and along the way, if you’re adventurous enough, you can stop by and pick up some shine and all the fireworks you can carry in your saddlebags.
4. The Devil’s Tail through Hell’s Canyon and the Snake River Canyon in the Magic Valley of Idaho has a little motorcycling history attached to it. It just so happens that this destination is the place where Evel Knievel made a wholly unsatisfactory attempt to jump his rocket-powered and goofily-named “SkyCycle X-2” across the Snake River canyon back in 1976 on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. The journey begins in Oxbow, Oregon and crosses over into Idaho where, 22 miles later, it comes to an end at Hell’s Canyon Dam. It’s a real killer and the scenery makes it tough to keep your eyes on the road.
3. Iron Mountain Road in South Dakota winds back and forth on itself through the Black Hills National Forest and Custer State Park. For your trouble and a few tanks of fuel, you’ll be rewarded with great views of Mount Rushmore and switchbacks which will leave your neck sore. Go there at the right time of year and you can check out the iconic Sturgis Rally.
2. The PCS, or Pacific Coast Highway, is just plain long and lovely. The scenery and the run through the California version of small town America make this an awesome ride. You can go from Coos Bay, Oregon to San Fransisco, CA and see redwood forests, whales, seals and the home of John Steinbeck along your journey. An awe-inspiring rocky coastline, the smell of seaweed and salt, and the quaint towns make this ride a photographer’s dream ride, so take your digital and plan to stop often.
1. US 31 in West and Northern Michigan is, in my humble opinion, the ultimate strip of riding Nirvana. Starting at the Michigan border just east of Chicago, this little jaunt will take you along lovely Lake Michigan, through the startling beauty of the Manistee National Forest and dumps you off in the most beautiful place in the world outside of Carmel, CA. in Traverse City. Along the way, you can jump off on side roads that will take you into some of the coolest spots on earth. Of course, you have to plan your trip for the five months of the year when Michigan has weather that won’t freeze grain alcohol rock solid, but it’s well worth the added planning and vacation time, and it’s our number one ride.
Do them all and keep the rubber side down, Amigo
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