America's Best Motorcycle Roads
By Kimberly Graf. Published on September 17, 2018
There are certain feelings that simply can't be experienced from the seat of a car. A scenic road is beautiful, but a car ride through a mountain range makes you feel removed from the scenery in a way. Motorcycle riders get to see things in an entirely different way – by being in the scenery instead of experiencing it from behind a pane of glass.
Motorcycle roads are roads that are thrilling or beautiful to travel on a motorcycle. They may include a lot of twists and turns to make the ride more exciting, and they usually don't have any stoplights or junctions that need to be slowed or stopped at. The pavement is smooth and well-maintained and there is almost no traffic outside of other motorcyclists.
All of these factors coupled with breathtaking scenery make these five roads the best America has to offer.
Beartooth Highway – Montana and Wyoming
Beartooth Highway, or Beartooth Pass, runs from Red Lodge, Montana to its end at Yellowstone National Park. The road is 69 miles long in total and reaches an elevation of 12,000 feet. This road is known for its diverse and breathtaking landscapes, from the alpine scenes on the mountains to lake views, rivers, and thick forests. The full wealth of the Northern Rockies is visible from this road.
On top of the scenery, this road is full of turns and switchbacks, making it a thrilling ride for motorcyclists. In fact, many people have reported seeing more motorcycles on this road than cars. It is a national forest, so the roads are well-maintained and there are plenty of recreation stops and scenic viewpoints to pull off at along the way.
Highway 1 – California
It's no secret that this highway begs to be experienced. From lively cities to beaches, mountains that drop off into the ocean to towering redwood forests, Highway 1 in California is one of the most beautiful drives in America. No matter how you choose to drive it, you will get something out of this road. For motorcyclists especially, this road is one of the must-ride highways in the west.
Highway 1 runs the length of the California coast. The road stretches 650 miles from Orange County in the southern part of the state to Mendocino County in the north. Any stretch of this road is magical by itself, but the entire length of the highway weaves over beaches and the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean, over the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, through vineyard country and up to the redwood forests northern California is known for.
This road is popular, and not just to motorcyclists. There are plenty of places to stop and take in the views, the culture of the area, or just to rest. However, there will be other traffic on the road, including cars and trucks.
Pig Trail – Arkansas
The south provides many roads that are curvy and exciting, but none so much as the Arkansas Pig Trail. Also called the Arkansas Dragon, this 130-mile ride takes you through the Ozark Mountains, with hills, curves, and rugged forests. In the spring time, the route sprouts gorgeous bunches of wildflowers and in the fall, the foliage is colorful and stunning.
This road starts north of White Oak, AR and ends just south of Saint Paul, AR. The Pig Trail (Arkansas Highway 23) is full of hairpin turns and curves, many of which have a speed limit of 15 mph. This road will be more populated in the spring and fall due to the wonderful views, but there is little traffic the rest of the year. The road is well-maintained and exciting, with drop-offs to one side and cliffs on the other. If you are anywhere near the area, this would be a road worth riding.
Skyline Drive – Virginia
Skyline Drive cuts right through Virginia's Shenandoah National Park. The road is well-maintained and absolutely full of wildlife. The bears and deer here are not shy in the slightest, making for a memorable, exciting experience. The highway is full of curves and turns, plenty to keep it interesting even at only 35mph.
This beautiful trip through the Blue Ridge Mountains begins at Front Royal, VA and ends in Waynesboro, VA. There are amenities on the road and upwards of 75 scenic pull-off points. The area is full of hiking and camping opportunities throughout, and there are even Skyline hotels if you want to take your time driving the road.
It's worth noting that there is a once-weekly fee of $10 per bike to drive this highway, but the views and the hills and curves of the road are more than worth it.
Acadia National Park – Park Loop Road
Located entirely on Mount Desert Island, this 27-mile road takes you over shorelines, by the seaside, and provides gorgeous views of lakes and mountains. This route is often foggy, making the landscape even more dramatic.
Starting at Bar Harbor, the road travels down Route 233 until it meets Route 3, and travels Route 3 back to Bar Harbor. The road seems short compared to the other roads on this list, but it is entirely unique and would be worth traveling more than once in a sitting.
The roads are well-kept, part of the Acadia National Park. The road is primarily one-way, making it perfect for motorcyclists riding in a group. There are enough twists to keep you interested and more than enough scenery to keep you entertained.
Motorcycle roads present a unique sort of challenge – the excitement of twists and turns coupled with the experience of being out in the scenery you're passing. Riding these roads is still very much possible in a car, but to fully experience them requires a motorcycle and a sense of adventure.