What’s your favorite kind of motorcycle ride? Is it the kind where you’re just speeding down a straightway, past barren forests and land, or the kind that challenges you with turns, so you have to take your time while taking in the mountains and valleys? The cultural sites in the United States should include its roads because there are so many different and beautiful routes to travel by.
If there’s one thing this country is known for, it’s its various biomes. One day you may be driving on a straight desert road, then another through a forest, and another over mountain ranges and canyons. Of course, there are also plenty of bike routes around the coasts.
This guide takes you state by state and showcases the best places to ride your motorcycle. Where will you go? The Western United States with its coastal runs and temperate forest and canyons. The Central States with seasonal routes through mountains and plains? Or, the Eastern United States surrounded by a mountain range and freshwater runs? Let’s take a look at the specific routes and roads these states offer and what makes them so unique.
Best Roads in California
There are some incredible roads in the state of California. The state has incredibly diverse with its scenery with the West Coast, mountains, and valleys. There are also a couple of lakes nestled within them along the way.
Here are some of the best places to take your motorcycle to in California:
- Stewarts Point - Located in Northern California by Dry Creek Valley, Skaggs Spring Road travels along the rolling hills by the body of water that is Dry Creek. There are a couple of sections where the road narrows and trees cover it in a natural canopy. It’s been reported that these areas are cooler in temperature than out in the open, and it all comes together in one trip. The road actually ends in Stewarts Point.
- Ojai - Another great route that offers great ocean views in California is the Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Monica to Ojai. Riders spend 40 miles on the coastal highway running along the Pacific Ocean. After that, there are seven miles down State Route 33 that go past Casitas Springs, where Johnny Cash used to live. This is largely a coastal route you can speed up and down on.
- Woodside/Pescadero - This is another ride along California’s coast with a straight section before winding inland from Woodside to the Pescadero Creek. Bikers speed up and slow down in what is a very diverse riding experience and scenery. Some intermediate riding skills may be required when the road twists and turns through the Creek woods. This route runs for about 27 miles.
- State Route 1 - Perhaps the routes we’ve just gone over are a bit underwhelming in terms of how long they are. Maybe you were looking for more of a journey than just a there and back. In this piece, we also cover routes that travel a couple of hundred miles, and one of those is California’s State Route 1. How about biking the entirety of the Golden State’s cost -all 650 miles of it? State Route 1 or Pacific Coast Highway is one of the most beautiful treks internationally, with elevated roads along the crashing waves and stops over in each town. Despite its length, State Route 1 can be done by beginner bikers.
- State Route 36 - Besides its coast, California also offers exploration in its mountainous and redwood regions. One such route which runs through the redwoods is State Route 36. Running 250 miles between Fortuna and Susanville, riders are taken through the mystic-like redwoods with mountainous terrain. While it’s more for intermediate motorcyclists, State Route 36 is also appropriate for those looking for a challenge.
- Big Sur Highway - Big Sur is an international destination in Northern California. Driving the Highway along the ravines on the coast is an experience in itself so imagine driving the 100 miles by motorcycle. Your biking skills will be tested like no other. Always remember to stop and take in the sights while you’re there since you have to have your eyes on the road at all times.
Best Roads in Arizona
Arizona is among the most rural states, with its southern region being desert canyons and its northern being temperate with woods in some areas. While it’s not as big as California, there are some roads worth taking your motorcycle on.
Two of the best roads in Arizona for motorbiking are:
- Seligman to Kingman - Travel like the railroads of the century past on the old Route 66 that runs 90 miles from Seligman to Kingman. This road is a nice near-straightaway in a desert climate where any rider can cut loose. Several motorists still preserve the travel culture of Route 66 today.
- Flagstaff to Sedona - Many know this as Arizona State Route 89A, which runs 27 miles through the Oak Creek Canyon region by the town of Flagstaff. This road is heavier on turns than Seligman to Kingman, so more experienced cyclists will find their stride here. Slide Rock State Park is a popular stop along the way with the main attraction of its namesake, nature’s own 30-foot water slide. The desert climate makes it an ideal destination.
Best Roads in Texas
Texas is a fun place to bring your motorcycle in terms of roadside destinations and challenging roads along the countryside. The old U.S. Route 66 is seemingly alive and well here as bikers frequent the Panhandle going cross-state.
Noteworthy motorcycle routes to take in Texas are:
- 166/118 Loop - Located by Marfa is an off-shoot of Interstate 90, which runs around Mount Livermore among the desert canyons. This road will test your motorcycling skills with sweeping turns along the ravines. This runs about 43 miles and is also easy for beginner motorcycle drivers.
- Twisted Sisters - If the 166/188 Loop isn’t challenging enough, maybe you’ll want to test your skill against the Twisted Sisters Loop. The twists, turns, and inclines are exaggerated like the hills of San Francisco. This Loop utilities TX 335, 336, and 337 for 100 miles around prime Texas hill country. There’s no excuse; only the most experienced of bikers take on Twisted Sisters.
Best Roads in Colorado
Yet another beautiful, scenic state, nearly all of Colorado’s cities are nestled in the Rocky Mountains. If you’re ever looking for a high-altitude, grand, and temperate nature-orientated motorcycle route, then a trip to Colorado should be on your to-do list. Rivers, canyons, and mountains are waiting for you to discover.
Notable motorcycle roads in Colorado are:
- Schofield Pass - 10,000 feet up within the mountains can be a paradise for thrill-seeking drivers. You can bike over creeks by bridges and past mining sites from centuries past. While it’s a short five miles, caution should absolutely be taken as not just motorcycles, but cars have been involved in fatal accidents on the pass.
- San Juan Mountain Skyway - Here’s a long mountain road at 25 miles. Specifically, 25 miles of the 233 miles of the Million Dollar Highway, as it is called. Motorcycle riders can see the Rocky Mountains from a new perspective as they travel along the mountainsides. If the weather allows, you should absolutely check out this intermediate-level motorcycle road.
Best Roads in Arkansas
Arkansas is home to such destinations as the Ozark Mountains and the Buffalo National River. Several rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water add life to the greenery all around. The warm climate of Louisiana to the south gives way for a more subtropical climate in Arkansas.
Notable roads to take your motorcycle on are:
- State Route 7 - In Jasper County, there’s State Route 7, which splits off in every direction. You can go through the Ozark National Forest and along the river in what are very beautiful nature trails. These roads aren’t too long and can easily be used for leisurely rides during a certain time of day. A word of caution -rivers tend to flood the roads during certain times of the year, and they may require fording. Always remember to test the depth to make sure you don’t end up with a sunk motorcycle.
- Pig Trail Scenic Byway - Another reason why motorcycle owners visit the Ozarks is the Pig Trail Byway. This byway is located 19 miles down State Route 23. It is one of the more scenic routes someone in the area can take, especially during the fall when everything turns orange and yellow. This road runs for about 129 miles, and you may see some boats along the dirt path. You also don’t have to be a whiz with a motorcycle in order to make the ride. When in the Ozarks, always grab a map as there are several loops and roads you can take around the forest reserve. Pig Trail Byway is just one of many.
Best Roads in Oregon
The State of Oregon is a lot like California except far more green. The rolling hills and mountains seem to only get bigger the further North you go. The best part is that all of Oregon’s cities are close to a nature reserve or national park, even Portland. Being one of the more rural West Coast states, you can expect their motorcycle routes to run at least 50 miles. But, Oregon weather can change within a minute so prepare for rainfall at any moment.
Great Oregon motorcycle spots are:
- Portland to Sumpter - See everything on a 350 mile trip from Portland to the small mountain town of Sumpter, from rivers, mountains, and canyons to old mining settlements and the sleeping volcano of Mt. Hood. The long trek also includes roadside attractions in the neighboring towns of Antelope, Fossil, Condon, and Ukiah, with a little something that makes each place unique.
- Columbia River Highway - An exception to the usually long roads of Oregon is the Columbia River Highway, running 15 miles from Corbett to Dodson. This road was built 100 years ago to accommodate older cars such as the Model T. Naturally; their mileage wasn’t as advanced as what we have today. This Highway takes riders to a scenic elevated highway just by Interstate 84 above the Columbia River.
Best Roads in Tennessee
The Southern States have a climate like the West Coast that allows motorcycling all year round. The Southeastern region of Tennessee and Virginia have several cross-state roads that can easily accommodate a rider and their cycle. Green mountain valleys and rivers are the main features of most of the routes through Tennessee, and there are different ways to experience it based on biking expertise.
Motorcyclists should check out the following when in Tennessee:
- Deals Gap Tail of the Dragon - Only a dragon’s tail would have this many curves and stretch for 11 miles. While it may seem short, it can be a tall order to complete for a beginner rider. While the mountains and lake views are beautiful, you’ll have 318 curves to contend with. Many riders cite this route as the most difficult, so there’s no shame in putting it off until later. However, seasoned riders will find this road to be a worthy challenge and memorable experience.
- Cherohala Skyway - If Tail of the Dragon is too intense, you can always hit up the nearby Cherohala Skyway. This one runs longer at 43 miles with reduced difficulty. Some riders even do the Skyway and Tail in one loop because they are so close to each other. Maybe you’re one of the riders who can’t get enough of the open road. During the fall, the trees turn yellow and orange but maintain some of their green -it’s a beautiful color combination that only enhances the riding experience.
- Natchez Trace Parkway - Here’s 444 miles of leisurely bike travel through Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama. It’s easy to see what makes the Southern United States so deep with their vast woodlands, which have seen several visitors from all over history - Native Americans, European settlers, and even prehistoric creatures. Roads such as these are like a trip back in time to see nature as it was when there was no urbanization.
Best Roads in Utah
Utah is the best of both worlds, with hot desert summers and flurry cold winters. Visitors come all year round to ski or visit the forest and nature preserves. Zion and Bryce Canyon are some of the most visited in the state. Motorcyclists can also find something to do with the several State Routes to ride up and down.
The best roads for motorcycling in Utah are:
- Markagunt High Plateau Scenic Byway - Also known as State Route 14, this is an ideal way for a motorcyclist to get to Cedar Breaks National Monument. This route takes riders up 9,900 feet up in Midway Summit before going down the Cedar Breaks Scenic Byway, which will take you directly to the National Monument. Panguitch is a small nearby town that is a popular destination for weary travelers.
- Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument - Another great monument-orientated route is by the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument. There are different roads to choose from, and you may be able to loop some together for a longer ride. Still, there’s nothing like racing around the Grand Staircase and desert terrain.
Best Roads in Montana
Green mountain ranges and rocky badlands make up the two sections of Montana. With all this rural countryside, you can bet that they have some good motorcycle trails and roads. Several bikers proclaim that Montana is one of the top three best states for motorcycles.
Roads they often visit are:
- Going-to-the-Sun Highway - Located in Glacier National Park is the Going-to-the-Sun Highway. Riders best experience the views of Mount Jackson and Mount Cleveland in the early morning before the traffic and construction arrive. This road is 50 miles, so it’s ideal for spending one of the early hours knocking out this ride. It’s a smooth drive, too, as motorhomes frequent the area and are able to navigate with ease.
- Northwest Passage Scenic Byway - Bikers can follow the same path that Lewis and Clark did with the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway. This is marked by the street signs. The route stretches 202 miles in not just Montana but also in Idaho and Washington. It’s not an incredibly hard drive, so riders can take in the scenic overlooks and flowing rapids along the way. The best part is that this is the road less traveled with little to no traffic.
- Beartooth Highway - One of the most beautiful drives in America, Beartooth is the road with the highest elevation in the Rocky Mountains region. It travels through the mountains from Montana to Wyoming in 68 miles. The road is smooth and often remote. Snowfall in the winter makes the run much harder, be advised.
Best Roads in Virginia
There’s the Rockies; then there’s the Appalachian Mountains in the Southeastern states. Virginia is the hub of mountains on the other side of the country. Western Virginia also functions as a companion piece when visiting the valley towns and destinations.
Mountainous motorcycle roads in Virginia include:
- Blue Ridge Parkway - This runs a total of 469 miles along the Appalachian Mountain Ranges. There’s a little over 200 miles that particularly run through a beautiful part of western Virginia. The ride between Shenandoah and the Great Smoky Mountains parks offers several overlooks that can be visited. The mountains are wholly green. The road also runs into North Carolina.
- Skyline Drive - Located in Shenandoah National Park is 105 miles of winding roads through the Blue Ridge Mountains, as previously mentioned. While it offers the same in terms of scenery, Shenandoah should be visited during the fall when all the colors of the trees start to change.
Other Roads Worth Mentioning
If you’re not near the states previously mentioned, here are a couple of examples of great motorcycle roads in other states that tend to fly under the radar.
While you may not be able to ride all year round in states like New York, Michigan, or Illinois, there are a couple of roads worth hitting up during the summer and spring on your bike:
- Tunnel of Trees - Located on Michigan’s western lakeshore is 27 miles of tree-hugged road. Everyone coming this way experiences the tunnel of trees because it’s part of Michigan’s major highway system. It’s an easy drive with some traffic on certain days, but it’s magical seeing those trees change with the seasons as you ride.
- Needles Highway - South Dakota is rural countryside at its finest. But if there’s one thing visitors come for, it’s Mount Rushmore. Needles Highway runs just past it through a tour of natural landmarks. It’s just under 40 miles, so it’s a nice leisure run for those familiar with it, or it’s a new adventure for those who aren’t.
- Hudson River Valley - From Manhattan, bikers can ride the winding roads out of the largest city in America and into the valley following the Hudson River. Seven Lakes Road is the key route many riders take into Bear Mountain State Park, where they stop at overlooks. New York is another state which experiences the four seasons, so the trees change colors like chameleons.
- Kelly Drive - Moving over by Philadelphia, we have Kelly Drive, which runs along the Schuylkill River. While all of our previously mentioned routes have been out there in nature, Kelly Drive is located within the concrete jungle of Philly. It’s best to ride during the early and late hours when traffic is minimal to experience Philly from its Yellow Brick Road.
- Illinois River Road - Southern and Central Illinois are less metropolitan than the North, so it’s more freeing to drive a motorcycle here. There’s a road along the Illinois River that runs from Meppen to Brussels to Centerville. Ferry services are always available along the riverside. There’s not a lot of intensity when it comes to motorcycling in Illinois, so it’s a very relaxing ride.
What Is The Best Motorcycle Insurance?
We’ll wrap this travel guide up with some pointers about motorcycle insurance. If you’re a proud motorcycle owner, then you understand how important having coverage for it really is. Just like car insurance, motorcycle insurance offers damage and injury compensation should you get into an accident while riding. As a rider, you’re more likely to get into an accident or experience trouble than someone in a car. In fact, you may even be charged a higher premium for your life insurance because of your riding habits. With cycle insurance, you can ride with peace of mind that you will be covered if your bike is damaged or you are injured. Medical costs from car accidents can be high. With no real safety features on a motorcycle, you may need more treatment. You wouldn’t want to be on the line for those lasting payments. Shop around and get motorcycle insurance quotes for your motorcycle today from Insurance Navy!