Regions to road trip you should put on your bucket list now
The best motorcycle rides you can take on your two wheeled machine are not just great scenery or the curviest roads, but what it makes you feel during and after taking the trip. Riding your motorcycle is more than just a means of transportation, it is therapy and the quest to find joy and solitude all in one.
You see that sign at every motorcycle gathering that says that there aren’t any motorcycles parked outside of a therapist’s office. It makes sense. Sure, people have told me that they love to take the riding mower out to find some solitude, but the only reason there aren’t mowers outside of therapist offices is because some miserable soul is driving a car to get lay on someone else’s couch to bitch about life.
The following is the top five rides you should take your bike instead of a therapist’s office. The goal is to find the perfect mix of breathtaking scenery, excellent roads, and to answer your bike’s request to take it cool places.
These are in no particular order. Go ride them and figure out which one is the best.
Best Rides: The Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota
If you have a motorcycle and you haven’t driven it through the southwestern part of South Dakota, you should just cut your losses and go to a therapist. Or get your ass on your bike and ride there as soon as possible. Check out some of the rides Road Rube has done in South Dakota on the South Dakota Rides Page.
Not only will you be able to see some of the sights like Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse and historic towns like Lead, Deadwood, and Sturgis, you will find some of the best riding in the country here.
Not only will you be able to see some of the sights like Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse and historic towns like Lead, Deadwood, and Sturgis, you will find some of the best riding in the country here.Road Rube
You’ll find roads that you’ll ride and want to turn around and do it again throughout the Black Hills. Plus, you can take a short drive and ride through the Badlands. Then take a ride to the west to see Devil’s Tower if you’re so inclined.
Get a full flavor of the Black Hills by riding Spearfish Canyon or the Needles Highway and the Keystone area around Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park. Vanocker Canyon is an terrific ride with great scenery and fun roads.
The roads are well-maintained and that usually means that you’ll occasionally run into road maintenance It’s not always under construction, but you will find plenty of places to ride to get around it if you have to.
It’s also a great experience to go to Sturgis around Rally Week at least once in your life. The sheer mass of motorcycle humanity is incredible and you’ll be able to buy one of those tin posters that says you never see a bike parked outside a therapist’s office. You may have to ship it home though.
Best Rides: Mountains in Wyoming (and a little Montana)
Take a look at the map of Wyoming and circle the Rocky Mountains and the Bighorn Mountains.
Last summer, I had decided to take the northern pass of the Bighorns coming from the west. I drove the edge of the mountains and a construction sign read that motorcycles should turn back due to construction. At one point in my life, I would have needed to see why I shouldn’t ride there, but I turned back to Greybull. I took the southern pass from Ten Sleep to Buffalo.
Both passes are fun rides with some lower range mountain switchbacks and beautiful scenery. There was rain in the forecast the day I rode, but the only effects of it I felt was a cool-down from 70 degrees to 52 degrees. The northern pass is more of a small mountain road feel to it with more curves, but the southern pass is impressive in its own right.
Once you loop through those roads a couple times, make your way to Cody and the national parks.
Warning: the riding in Yellowstone and Grand Teton is not intended to be super-speed, action riding. Don’t plan on it taking less than a day of riding to see the sights and ride Beartooth. It will be a leisurely ride no matter what you do. Go in with the mindset to be okay with delay for animal gawkers and road construction.
Warning: the riding in Yellowstone and Grand Teton is not intended to be super-speed, action riding. Don’t plan on it taking less than a day of riding to see the sights and ride Beartooth. It will be a leisurely ride no matter what you do. Go in with the mindset to be okay with delay for animal gawkers and road construction.Road Rube
Last summer, I encountered road construction in Yellowstone. First in line and the wait for the traffic coming in the opposite direction was about 30 minutes. The construction folks are sour on bikers and tourist peeing on their port-a-potty seats, so I used the woods. Smelled better there anyway.
My bike was also caked with mud because the water trucks are consistently working on keeping the dust down during construction. The water truck guy left his water on for a moment as he approached the lineup of vehicles, paused, and smiled when he turned the water off just before dousing me. I waved thanks and I think he thought it would have been funny to see me soaking wet.
Mud washes off and the scenery is amazing. Beartooth Pass offers breathtaking (literally and figuratively) views. You can stop and see all the other sights like Old Faithful and Mammoth Springs if you’re brave enough to stroll a little bit, get some looks from the tourists, and sweat into your boots a little bit.
This is a ride to take just for the sheer majesty of it. It might be the single-most beautiful scenery in the country, but that is debatable because of the number of great places to see around the States.
Best Rides: Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina
I made the decision last summer that, when I was in the Smoky Mountains, I would just start turning down roads and see what kind of motorcycle roads they would be.
The list of the best motorcycle rides in the Smoky Mountains is a list of one-is-as-good-as-the-next motorcycle roads. I’m going to hold off on that for this post.
I’ll be headed to Tennessee and North Carolina this summer to do reviews of the various rides throughout the area. So stay tuned.
The biggest one that people ask about the Smoky Mountains is the Tail of the Dragon. It’s one of the most well-known ride from the area. Plus it has 318 curves in 11 miles. It’s very cool to ride, but it is not for the feint of heart.
The corners are sharp and require maximum attention while riding. It is equally important to be aware of the traffic around you on the Tail. Cars and sport bikes want to go as fast as they can. Just get out of the way and enjoy your ride.
Regardless of your thoughts of their choice to ride that way, stay out of their way. There are plenty of spots to pull off to the side and let them pass. And remember not to have a death grip on your handlebars while you ride.
The Smoky Mountains have several roads that will give you scenery and fun riding throughout Tennessee and North Carolina. If you’re looking for a more subdued ride, consider the Blue Ridge Parkway or the Smoky Mountain Loop. There are tons of places to have a great ride.
Best Rides: Northeastern and Eastern Colorado
The Rocky Mountains are amazing.
Driving through Colorado with your motorcycle will get you into altitudes that provide scenery that is tough to beat.
Rocky Mountain National Park winds through the mountains to the northwest of Denver. The national park takes you through the highest peaks on easy-to-navigate roads. Colorado’s breathtaking scenery makes these some of the best motorcycle roads.
You will understand what they meant when they wrote “purple mountains majesties” when they wrote “America the Beautiful.”
They weren’t lying.
Couple things to consider:
1) Please keep watching where you’re driving because it’s easy to get caught up in the surroundings.
2) Make sure you check to see if there’s snow up in them thar hills. According to The Summit Daily and Denver 7 (the ABC affiliate) there are buildings covered in snow at 11,796 feet (entire buildings) as of May 20, 2019. It is unclear when the road will be opened to traffic. Doesn’t look like it will be open soon – especially for motorcycles.
Pike’s Peak is open year-round, but that doesn’t mean you ride your bike up and down it anytime you want. Pike’s Peak has awesome views of everything. If heights aren’t your thing, this may be a tough one on a motorcycle for you. The air is thin at the top. And, did I mention, the whole thing is awesome?
Best Rides: Utah
I know, you’re saying – Utah is a huge state, it can’t all be awesome.
The salt flats in the northwest. Rocky Mountains on the east. Five national parks in the south. If you’re going to nitpick about little parts of Utah, tell it to your shrink. Utah has some of the best motorcycle rides in the country.
You will have excellent and interesting scenery no matter where you go.
Make sure that you get yourself to Torrey and take 12 south from through Escalante and eventually to Bryce. One of my favorite rides in the country, bar none.Road Rube
The south features five national parks – Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion, and Capitol Reef. Just that alone gives a guy plenty to see. Make sure that you get yourself to Torrey and take 12 south from through Escalante and eventually to Bryce. One of my favorite rides in the country, bar none.
Plan your trip wisely. If you want to get to all five parks leave yourself time.
Utah.com has a travel plan that takes a person to five parks in five days. It’s for people in cars. Plan accordingly.