Even before the pandemic, motorcycle trips that twisted through rugged mountain ranges or alongside crystal-clear rivers were popular. After a boom in 2021 that saw motorcycle sales figures increase nearly 20%, those numbers are beginning to lose momentum, but bikers haven’t lost their passion for cross-country trips and scenic rides. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 8.6 million motorcycles are registered in the United States as of 2021.
This article will highlight a few top touring motorcycles and share ten of the top motorcycle routes in North America.
Top 10 motorcycle road trips worth the ride
If you’re a seasoned rider, some of these may be familiar to you, but worth revisiting. If you’re new to riding or just haven’t been in the seat for a while, these scenic motorcycle rides may get your motor running.
In no particular order, here are ten of the most amazing motorcycle rides to explore. Which have you already accomplished?
- Smoky Mountains, North Carolina and Tennessee
With twisty roads and beautiful vistas, you could ride for weeks in the Smoky Mountains and never see the same view twice. Many bikers and auto touring enthusiasts start in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with nearly 400 miles of roads, then continue their adventure in Tennessee or North Carolina.
A few top rides include Blue Ridge Parkway, with about 80 miles of majestic mountain roads; Caves Cove Loop, a short slow ride past lush valleys; and Smoky Mountains Loop, a 250-mile ride that includes twisties and panoramic views.
- Green Mountains, Vermont
Scenic Route 100 Byway is located in south-central Vermont as it runs along the eastern edge of the Green Mountains. With skiing, hiking, golf, dining, shopping and cultural activities in the area, it can be much more than just a motorcycle ride. The Byway includes Route 108, between Cambridge and Stowe, which is designated Smugglers’ Notch Scenic Highway as it passes over a shoulder of Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest mountain.
- Beartooth Highway, Wyoming and Montana
Deemed a favorite by riders across the country, US Route 212, also known as Beartooth Highway, delivers thrilling switchbacks, steep zigzags and a staggering climb to 10,947 feet in elevation at the summit of Beartooth Pass. The Beartooth region is one of the most rugged areas in the U.S. and requires plenty of planning and experience to be enjoyed safely. Motorcycle camping riders may want to explore the 12 National Forest campgrounds in the area.
- The Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia and North Carolina
For a relaxing ride, consider the Blue Ridge Parkway and its 469 miles of soft curves, roomy scenic overlooks and picnic sites that encourage simple pleasures. With a 45 mph speed limit, the Blue Ridge Parkway is an ideal ride for beginners or for those seeking a slower pace.
For a variety of picturesque rides, explore the Appalachian Backroads and routes such as Tail of the Dragon, Bootlegger, the Roadrunner and many more.
- The Black Hills, South Dakota
South Dakota is home to the famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally as well as unique riding experiences that attract motorcycle enthusiasts all year long. Why? The variety of scenery— from gorgeous mountain ranges to rolling plains and deep canyons—South Dakota has it all.
A top ride pick is Custer State Park along the Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Roads, boasting pigtail turns, tunnels and switchbacks. Plan stops to view Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial and be prepared to brake for bison, mountain goats, antelope and other wildlife roaming the area.
- Lake Michigan Circle Tour: Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan
An ambitious and adventurous ride is the Lake Michigan Circle Tour, covering four states and more than a thousand miles. Did you know that Lake Michigan is the only one of the Great Lakes entirely located within the United States?
During this ride, you’ll see over a hundred lighthouses along the lake’s blue-green waters and come across many welcoming coastal towns that offer plenty of reasons to stop and visit. For an easier journey, consider breaking your ride into two trips, Northern and Southern Lake Michigan, for more time for rest or exploration.
- The Twisted Sisters, Texas
The Twisted Sisters are made up of Ranch Roads 335, 336 and 337 that snake through the Texas Hill Country located north of San Antonio. With their steep hills, tight curves and dramatic drop-offs, many experienced motorcyclists will consider The Twisted Sisters a roller coaster ride. All 130 miles are two-lane roads and pass beautiful canyons and panoramic views.
For a quaint tourist stop in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, visit the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum in Vanderpool on weekends to see a wonderful collection of machines from all around the world dating back to the early 1900s.
- The Lion’s Tail, Ontario
The Lion’s Tail offers some of the most breathtaking landscapes found in Canada—sparkling lakes, rich wetlands, impressive rock cliffs and thick forests. It runs approximately 125 miles along the spectacular coastlines of the Georgian Bay and Lake Huron on Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula. To ensure you have plenty of time to soak in the natural beauty of this ride along with the local culture, plan to extend your trip and explore the roadside attractions, shops and restaurants as well.
- San Juan Mountain Skyway, Colorado
This 230-mile loop includes some of Colorado’s most dramatic views, including rugged vistas, stunning rivers and historic Rocky Mountain towns. With hairpin turns, switchbacks and high altitudes, it is ideal for experienced riders. There are many areas of interest on this route, but one standout is the famous Million Dollar Highway, a road from Durango to Ouray that follows the old mining railroad as it twists through the mountains.
- Pacific Coast Highway, California
A ride along this coastal highway will engulf you in natural beauty as it rolls through giant redwoods, towering cliffs and past iconic beaches. Officially called SR1, the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) runs over 600 miles and includes a 100-mile stretch of beach views between Cambria and Carmel. PCH is a ride worth savoring as you roll through the Rocky Creek Bridge, Big Sur, Santa Cruz and other iconic destinations. To extend your trip, add the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway to explore Oregon and Washington too.
Looking to take in some seasonal sights? Millions of Americans hit the road every year to take in the fall foliage. Check out these additional road trip destinations geared toward fall colors and autumn scenery. All of these locations make for a memorable trip, whether you’re traveling by motorcycle or car.
The 6 best touring motorcycles
Touring motorcycles make road trips more comfortable, convenient and safe for the rider and the other vehicles on the road. If you’re considering a new cruiser bike, you’ll most likely look for style, comfort and power—and here are a few current models to consider:
BMW R1250RT, with legendary 1,254cc ShiftCam BMW Boxer engine
Indian Roadmaster Limited, featuring a 36-gallon cargo space and comfy seat
Harley-Davidson Road King, expertly styled for comfort and function
Honda Gold Wing Tour Automatic DCT, a passenger-friendly bike with a 61-liter travel trunk
Yamaha Star Venture TC, with a multi-plate assist and slipper wet clutch
Ducati Multistrada V4, featuring tech gadgets for safety and convenience
Motorcycle enthusiasts know that the journey is more important than the destination. But, when you’re short on time or your planned ride is in California and you live in Missouri, it may be practical to ship your motorcycle to the start of your road trip instead of driving across the country. That’s when a motorcycle shipping company can help.
Montway Auto Transport can arrange shipment for all types of motorcycles across all 50 states. We have the expertise to handle your motorcycle transportation. Visit us online or call 888-989-8526 to get a custom motorcycle shipping estimate. Enjoy your next motorcycle journey!