October 8th is National Motorcycle Ride Day, so we hit Facebook and asked about your favorite routes (and for some photos of your rides). Many of you agreed with one poster, who said, “My favorite road is wherever that front tire leads me!” Other suggestions included lesser-known local routes—including the ones that you lucky few take every day to work. But your favorite U.S. rides were the ones with mountain views, technical roads, or backwoods peace and quiet.
Here are your top five, plus suggestions for how to spend the second Saturday of October. You may not be able to tackle many of them in a day, but is that really a bad thing?
The Easy Rider Tour
Some of you referenced the 1969 classic road-trip film Easy Rider. Why not watch the movie (but maybe skip the ending) and then retrace a portion of the iconic 2,500-mile journey of Billy and Wyatt, played by Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda? The trip from Los Angeles to New Orleans encompasses five states and enough shorter rides to fill a lifetime. Or at least a couple of weeks. Depending on your location, you can take in the Martian-like landscape on the 161-mile Death Valley Run, loop around Monument Valley, cruise Route 66, or spend some time in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Along the way, you can pay homage to Billy and Wyatt at any number of recognizable locations from the movie. To get the full experience, trip on music from the soundtrack by artists like Steppenwolf, Jimi Hendrix, and the Byrds.
Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway, Black Hills, South Dakota
Named one of the most outstanding byways in America, the Peter Norbeck Scenic byway is 70 miles of scenic tunnels, hairpin turns, and pigtail bridges. Favorite sections like the Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road will take you through some of the prettiest country west of the Missouri River. Smell the ponderosa pines, gape at two-billion-year-old monoliths and spires, and view Mount Rushmore from inside a rock tunnel roadway.
Million Dollar Highway, Colorado
People can’t agree on whether the Million Dollar Highway got its name from nearby gold and silver deposits or from how much it cost to build. But visitors will be excused for thinking the name comes from its million-dollar views. A portion of the San Juan Skyway, the Million Dollar Highway is where U.S. 550 stretches from Ouray to Silverton. The road reaches an elevation of over 11,000 feet at the summit of Red Mountain Pass, with plenty of hairpins and switchbacks along the way. What the Million Dollar Highway lacks, however, are guardrails, so take advantage of the many scenic turnouts.
Tail of the Dragon, Moonshiner 28, Cherohala Skyway, Great Smoky Mountains
The Smokies boast arguably some of the most treasured roadways for motorcyclists in the country. Bucket-list-worthy U.S. 129 at Deals Gap, N.C., also known as the Tail of the Dragon, offers 318 challenging curves in 11 miles. Want more? Extend your trip another 103 miles with the Moonshiner 28. Named for the bootleggers who once used it, N.C. 28 boasts abundant twisties and wide sweepers, mountain views, iconic spots like Bridal Veil Falls, and plenty of moonshine history. All with less traffic than you’ll find on the Tail. Or you can loop over to the 41-mile Cherohala Skyway. Drive from Robbinsville, N.C., through the unspoiled Cherokee and Nantahala forests, over 5,400-foot Santeetlah Gap, and into Tellico Plains, Tenn.
Natchez Trace Parkway, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi
It’s easy to see why so many of you love the Natchez Trace Parkway, a road that stretches 444 miles, from Natchez, Miss., to Nashville, Tenn. The parkway roughly follows the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail, a footpath that’s been in use for centuries. Sixty miles of the trails are maintained and open to visitors today. Commercial vehicles are prohibited on the Trace, which means no dump trucks or tractor trailers and less road debris. It also means that the asphalt is smooth as a baby’s… well, you know. The parkway avoids the congestion of most major cities, so you can relax while you soak up the scenery and the history.
For even more great rides (including more northeastern roads and the popular Blue Ridge Parkway), check out our recent posts Skip the Beach: Our Top 5 Mountain Road Trips and The Appalachian Trail: Road Trip Version. Or read the hundreds of Facebook comments from our road trip thread.
Getting your bike road-worthy? Stop by our Motorcycle Maintenance Center for advice, parts and more.