If you’re a rider – you already know that it’s worth riding to (or shipping your bike to) certain routes. That feeling of pure freedom and opportunity is what draws many of us to these places. Heightened awareness and adrenaline course through your veins as you turn new corners and see views most people only get to see in photographs. We’ve put together a list of the top routes to ride in North America. You’ve probably heard of some but hopefully we can introduce you to some new ones.
A.D. Farrow Co.’s Top Motorcycle Routes in North America
ONE. Blue Ridge Parkway: North Carolina to Virginia
This iconic mountain route is on almost every serious motorcyclist’s must-do list. The northern section, in Virginia, passes Civil War battle sites as it ambles through the countryside. The farther south you climb into the Smokey Mountains, the smooth, well-maintained Parkway is renowned for its sweeping curves and heart-stopping scenery. The well-enforced (take note please) 45-mile-per-hour speed limit means that you have time to savor the views, which reach a crescendo south of Asheville, North Carolina. For a longer ride, take the 105-mile Skyline Drive through Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park; the drive links to the parkway.
Planning: Allow at least two days for this 469-mile ride. Plenty of rest areas along the way.
TWO. Going-To-The-Sun-Road: Montana
This particular route is rather remote, and you can actually only access it in the summer months! An epic 50-mile mountain road full of twists and turns, this route passes Glacier National Park and climbs from Lake McDonald to the summit at Logan Pass, which sits at 6,646 feet. If you want to take in some breathtaking views, plan in a stop at Jackson Glacier Overlook, and bring a pair of binoculars to help you spot the bighorn sheep and mountain goats that live there.
Planning: You can find out more info to help you plan your trip on the National Park Services website here.
THREE. The Alaska Highway: Anchorage, Alaska to Whitehorse, Canada
The 700 mile cruise from Anchorage to the Yukon via Route 1 on the old Alaska Road offers a chance to see one of the last essentially unspoiled expanses in North America. The chance to see wildlife is exceptionally good on this route, so be sure to bring a camera and/or a pair of binoculars to get a good look at the bison, moose, deer, caribou, and grizzly bears!
You’ll see many “Motorcycle Friendly” signs at lodges along the Alaska Highway. These date back to a series of motorcycle rallies run by a group called Ride Yukon from 2004-2009. The reality is that all lodges are bike-friendly, though. The availability of fuel along the highway is a concern to many people, but unless your bike has an exceptionally small tank, you don’t need to carry a can of gas with you.
Planning: for more details on traveling the Alaska Highway by motorcycle, visit the Explore British Columbia website.
FOUR. Federal Highway 1, Mexico
Federal Highway 1, aka the Transpeninsular Highway, runs down the Baja Peninsula for over 1,000 miles. Beginning in Tijuana Mexico and ending in Cabo San Luca, this ride will leave you breathless. This ride promises all of the best things about Mexico: wide open spaces, high mountain plateaus, beautiful ocean views, great local people and food you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
Planning: We’ve heard people express concern over riding through Mexico. If you’re interested in going, check out some helpful tips before you go.
FIVE. Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument Ride: Utah
Also known as Scenic Byway 12, the Grand Staircase offers 124 miles of sensational eroded scenery as it snakes through Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks and the Petrified Forest State Park. Fantastical multicolored formations—buttes, canyons, cliffs, and mesas—are visible all along this ever writhing route. Plus, the region has been home to Native American peoples since ancient times.
Begin in Panguitch and follow U.S. 89 south to reach Route 12, then head east to Torrey. Planning: Allow two days for this drive, including an overnight in the region to savor the mind-blowing colors of sunrise and sunset.
SIX. Pacific Coast Highway: California
A scenic roadway like no other, the Big Sur section of California’s coastal highway offers everything your California-Dreaming’ heart desires: crashing surf, towering redwood forests, seal-dotted beaches, and enough curves to keep you contented end to end. This cliff-hugging ribbon stretches 120 miles and has frequent turnouts for enjoying the stellar views. It’s enough to whet your appetite for more, and that’s no problem. The Pacific Coast Highway extends along pretty much the entire California coast, from Malibu to the Oregon border and beyond.
Planning: Avoid summer weekends and dress/pack warm: Big Sur is famously fogbound, especially in summer months.
SEVEN. Tail of the Dragon: North Carolina and Tennessee
318 tight corners in just 11 miles! This famous road is one of the most exhilarating rides on our list. This road spans Deal’s Gap, which is at the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. It is best taken with care but is a favourite amongst enthusiasts of both bikes and sports cars, and the good news is that there are no intersecting roads to deal with! It is illegal for trucks over 30 feet long to drive on the Tail of the Dragon, but some do end up down there if they get lost, or simply decide to use it as a shortcut, so be prepared.
Planning: Given the popularity of this ride route, there are plenty of resources to help you plan your trip.
EIGHT. Peak to Peak Highway: Colorado
at 60 miles long. There are some fantastic twisties to enjoy, and some equally fantastic scenery courtesy of Mother Nature, from Rocky Mountain vistas to thick forests and alpine meadows which put on a colourful display in the spring. Be sure to keep to a sensible speed while enjoying this route, as there are often moose and elk to be seen, and perhaps pack your hiking boots and make a stop to walk one of the scenic trails along the way.
Planning: Colorado’s oldest byway offers impeccable views, including some fascinating historical buildings dotted along the ride.
NINE. East Maui Loop: Hawaii
Providing breath-taking ocean and mountain views, there are more than 600 turns and 60 one lane bridges so be careful and enjoy the scenery. Hugging the cliffs and riding along the outskirts of a rain forest is spectacular, the ocean views on one side mountain views on the other with a few spectacular waterfalls thrown in.
This is an all day ride. Leave early with a full tank of gas, after Paia town the only other gas station is in Hana. Pack a lunch, something to drink and bring a camera. You can do this trip in about 6 hours of riding. As long as you do not make too many stops, you can spend some time at Waianapanapa State Park or one of the hiking trails at Seven Pools, just watch your time or drive home in the dark.
Planning: The trip starts in a small country town called Paia. It travels on route 36/360 which is also known as Hana Highway and takes you to the town of Hana, continuing on to Kipahulu and (at some point the road changes names to Pilai Hwy/Route 31, then to Kula Hwy/Route 37) on through Ulupalakua also known as upcountry Maui, ending in the Paniolo town of Makawao.
TEN: Canadian Rockies: Banff National Park to Jasper National Park, Canada
This ride takes you through the heart of the Canadian Rockies past teal glacial lakes. Some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in North America! Good quality pavement all the way through, fair amount of twists and turns. There might be a fair amount of RV traffic during peak season. Not much along the way, so standard Canadian travel rules apply (i.e. fill up every time you get a chance). Longest stretch without gas stations is about 150 klicks between Sasketchewan River Crossing and Jasper.