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America's Bucket-List Rides and Routes

America's Bucket-List Rides and Routes

Riding motorcycles can be a fun alternative to being cramped in the car on a cross-country road trip. Who likes being cramped in a box of metal for hours at a time singing with the radio or listening to Uncle Bob snore in the back seat? Taking your motorcycle out on the open road may be the best chance you have of truly enjoying the great outdoors.

You want to make sure you are prepared for these types of trips, having a plan, a backup plan, and then the backup plan for the backup plan (and so on). Motorcycle safety is also something to keep in mind if you take to the open road. If you haven’t refreshed yourself on some of the standard safety measures, you might want to do so. Also, make sure you have made the transition from storage to the road for a ride-ready bike.

Choosing the Best Routes in the United States

There are roads and there are motorcycle roads. Sure, everyone likes to wing it from time to time, jump on the motorcycle and see where life takes us. For a short-term trip of only a few hours, this might be feasible, but you need to have some type of plan on the route you plan to take for longer trips.

Planning ahead of time helps you maximize your time and sightseeing and lets those not going with you know where you are during each phase of the trip. You can’t always rely on your phone and/or GPS to get you out of a rut. There will be times where you won’t have service, and there is no way that navigation or contact with the outside world is possible.

Different factors can cause inconsistency with GPS:

  • Not enough satellites
  • Satellite position
  • GPS drift
  • Lost signal
  • Multipath Error
  • Signal obstruction - this is the most common, especially when dealing with large buildings, trees, tunnels, and other interference with the GPS receiver

To eliminate the unpleasantness that comes with a faulty GPS, you may consider going “old school” and carrying a map with you. Consider it a “just in case” type of insurance policy on the road when you are miles from civilization.

So now that you have an idea of preparation, where should you go? The United States is full of beautiful scenery that the avid motorcycle enthusiast can appreciate. Let’s break it down by category so that you can find the right places to ride.

The Best Scenic Route

Blue Ridge Parkway - North Carolina & Virginia

Image source: VisitNC.com

Difficulty: Beginner

Blue Ridge Parkway is 469 miles of roadway that have been nicknamed “America’s Favorite Drive.” Spanning North Carolina and Virginia, the road begins by Shenandoah National Park and ends at Great Smoky Mountains National Park - plenty of scenery and great cruising speed (a compulsory 45-mile-per-hour speed limit means that you have time to savor the views). 

Beartooth Highway - Montana and Wyoming

Difficulty: Intermediate

Also known as Beartooth Pass or Beartooth All-American Highway, the Beartooth Highway is a 68.7-mile stretch of Highway 212 that offers some very stimulating riding.

It Is the highest elevated paved road in the northern Rocky Mountains, with lots of up and downs, zig and zags, wind and wends; little guardrails and a ton of breathtaking scenery.

Cherohala Skyway - Tennessee

Difficulty: Intermediate

You might recognize this run from many movies and TV shows - the long, sweeping corners, and the scenic views. Often referred to as "a drive among the clouds" the Cherohala Skyway is 43 miles of roadway that takes you to elevations of over 5400 feet high. If you want to make an entire day out of riding, pairing Cherohala (intermediate roadway) with Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap assures you will make the most out of your challenge seeking.

Natchez Trace Parkway - Alabama Mississippi, Tennessee

Difficulty: Beginner

An easy and leisurely ride for beginners, the Natchez Trace Parkway is 444 miles of road stretching 444 miles through the woods of Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee that was originally used by prehistoric animals, then Native Americans and later, settling Europeans. If you are looking for a serene ride that offers a bit of history as well as natural scenary, the Natchez Trace Parkway is where you need to be! In fact, you can ride the entire length of the Trace without ever stopping - there is no stop signs or stop lights, no cross traffic, no commercial traffic - but there is a 50 mph speed limit.

Needles Highway - South Dakota

Image source: VisitRapidCity.com

Difficulty: Intermediate

Needles Highway totals 37.89 miles of intermediate skilled roadway in South Dakota. Incredible twists and turns, bridges, hills and valleys, and even a few short tunnels, all complimented by excellent pavement that is well maintained through the non-winter months. You can make a detour to see such sights as Mount Rushmore or take in the natural scenery along the highway.

Pacific Coast Highway

Image source: Afar.com

Difficulty: Beginner

Also known as State Route 1, the Pacific Coast Highway is 655.8 miles of roadway that stretches along the California oceanic edge, cutting through many small towns and cities. For those looking for the ultimate coastal scenic roadway, the Big Sur section (from Carmel to Morro Bay) offers Two lanes with an uncountable number of curves, the mountains on one side and seal-dotted beachers and crashing surf on the other side. This cliff-hugging ribbon stretches 120 miles and has enough curves to keep you contented, and frequent turnouts for enjoying the stellar views.

The Best Motorcycle Camping and Adventure Spots

Image source: TravelSouthDakota.com

Some of the best places for camping and adventure when traveling by motorcycle are National Parks. National Parks across the US make a great spot to hike, camp, sightsee and provide extreme experience when traveling by bike. These are only a few examples – the opportunities are endless when it comes to the natural beauty and adventure of the great outdoors.

  • Badlands National Park – South Dakota
  • Joshua Tree National Park – California
  • Yellowstone National Park – Wyoming, Montana, Idaho
  • Zion National Park – Utah
  • Grand Teton National Park – Wyoming

The Best Off-Roading Route

Image source: Utah.com

Every now and then, motorcycle riders like to stray from the well-beaten path. When that happens, they find some of the best places in the US to ride and see the most beautiful scenery. These riders also get to showcase their skill on some of the more extreme paths.

  • The Paiute Trail – Utah
  • Windrock Park – Tennessee
  • Red River Motorcycle Trails – Texas
  • Croom Motorcycle Area – Florida
  • Hatfield-McCoy Trails – West Virginia

The Best Street and City Routes – For the Sites

Checking out the sites on your motorcycle doesn’t always mean escaping to forests and National Parks. Sometimes, it can just be hopping on your bike and visiting the big city to see what sites are there. Some of these cities go without any explanation needed, and others might be a hidden jewel you never knew existed.

  • New York City, New York
  • York, Pennsylvania
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Elkins, West Virginia
  • Thousand Oaks, California

The Best Tracks

Sometimes you don’t want to go sightseeing but merely quench the need for speed. The US does not disappoint when looking for some of the best tracks that cater to motorcycles.

  • Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – Monterey, California
  • Daytona International Speedway – Daytona, Florida
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway – Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Circuit of The Americas – Austin, Texas
  • Road America – Plymouth, Wisconsin

Honorable Mention: Oddly Entertaining Stops and Trails

What would a “best of” list be without the honorable mention section? Searching for the best routes has introduced us to some relatively interesting sites and routes that you might find worth adding to your list.

The Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap

Image source: blog.DealsGap.com

Shortest yet most challenging trail motorcycle riders and sports car drivers can encounter. 318 curves in an 11-mile stretch. This road is not for the faint of heart. It can be found on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina at Deals Gap.

Carhenge

Image source: Roadtrippers.com

There are two locations to find the retired car version of Stonehenge – Alliance, Nebraska, and Amarillo, Texas (also known as Cadillac Ranch).

Enchanted Highway

Image source: USAToday.com

Western North Dakota is home to the Enchanted Highway, where you will find large metal sculptures, a horse-drawn carriage, and the World’s Largest Tin Family made from empty oil drums.

Keeping Track of the Sights

You can’t always have your camera out while you are on the road – this is true in both automobiles or on a motorcycle. Most places have banned cellphone use while operating a vehicle, so what do you do if you want to make memories of all the sights?

Install a dash cam on your motorcycle. It seems like a relatively easy solution, right? Whether you plan to explore the US, BlackboxMyCar has the solution that will meet your needs and budget.

When you decide to take a trip in the North American hemisphere, you won’t want to miss an instant (and it can also increase safety). Ordering and installing your motorcycle dash cam makes it easy to make memories, be safe, and protect your investment (your motorcycle) in the process.

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