The AMA ( American Motorcycle Association ) created a list of the top 15 motorcycle rides in America. I’m not sure what their criteria is, but often you have two main features on these roads. First, twists and turns to make the ride fun. I’ve been on roads that go straight for 20 miles. Some were quite scenic, but not exactly fun to ride. The second feature is what I just mentioned: scenery. These roads often have spectacular views. Longer roads here often have many pull-overs for you to enjoy vistas that keep us in touch with nature and why we ride these roads.
The nice thing about this list is that it creates a sort of bucket list for you. Now, these are all over the country, often making it nearly impossible for some riders to ever appreciate. I’ve been fortunate in that the Big Rides I plan each year take us all over the country and we have done many of these already. Still, the leave a few I need to plan. Sometimes, what they think is a great ride isn’t what I think of as a great ride. Those don’t make my list.
Regrettably, after this summer I will have only done 7 of these 15… but I’m working on it!
Like number 15 in the countdown. Washington route 129 and Oregon 9. It’s a nice road, but looking at the map I see so many that look better. WA 440 to US 97 looks fantastic to me and I’ll do that one this summer. Number 14 is route 170 in Ohio. I’m sorry, but even though these are the mountains and hills of western Pennsylvania, it does not make my list.
Number 13 is California Route 58. I’ve read about this and how Keanu Reeves likes this road a lot. It looks good and I may try to add this to the ride in 2020. I’ve hit a lot of roads in California, but few below Lucia on the PCH. This makes my bucket list.
Number 12 looks like a winner, partly because of my love of long rides. This is US 33 from Harrisonburg, VA to Seneca Rock, WV. It runs through the Appalachians with some really great scenery. The 709 mile ride makes it a two day ride so you can camp or stop to enjoy the people as well as the ride. I’ve added this to my list.
Number 11 is called the Natchez Trace and goes from Natchez, MI to Nashville, TN. This 444 mile ride is not just scenic, but also historic. Now that I live in Tennessee, I have to add this to my bucket list. I’m looking forward to it.
California is a huge state and it’s no surprise that a lot of these are located there. Number 10 is CA 2 in the Los Angeles area. Next year, as we finish the SCMA Four Corners Tour, this may have to be part of the ride. It looks great. As I’ve said, I haven’t been in Southern California much to ride. It’s starting to look like a requirement.
Number 9 is Lolo Pass in Idaho and Montana. It’s actually an alternative to Glacier National Park this summer if the roads are closed there. This looks spectacular and I have to get on this road somehow in my future. I’ve read about it often and everyone raves about the vistas and roads.
My list keeps getting bigger in number 8, CA 36. This is in Northern California and goes east to west. I’ve been on other roads in this region and everything is amazing. I have to add this. I have to.
The number 7 spot belongs to the Cherohala Skyway. This is just down the road from me and I’ve had the privilege of riding it in both directions. It has everything you want in a ride and many places to pull over to enjoy the vistas. If you ride east on it, you end up in the mountains of North Carolina where you’ll find hundreds of great roads that didn’t make the list, but are equally fantastic.
Number 6 is one of my goals for this summer. The Going to the Sun Road cuts across Glacier National Park and is loaded with incredible views of alpine mountains. It’s only 50 miles long, but it passes through some of the toughest terrain engineers could ever consider to build a road. This needs to be on your list.
The Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) makes number 5, but this is a little vague. It’s a long road and snuggles the coastline of California from top to bottom. In reality, it extends into Oregon and Washington, so the length of this road is incredible. I’ve been on a lot of it from Lucia north to Arcata and Eureka. This summer I’ll be doing it from the north end to just north of San Francisco. This road never gets old, but it does get scary the first few times you ride it. Incredible views. You have to put it on your list.
Number 4 I’ll do this summer. It’s the Million Dollar Highway in Colorado on US 550. It looks fantastic as I’ve studied videos and maps. But we take it a step further by continuing north where there are roads that are even more dynamic, just not as famous. I’ll be posting video on the YouTube Channel.
Number 3 is the Tail of the Dragon, US 129 from Tennessee to North Carolina. This road is known for its twists and turns more than the vistas. The scenic views are there, but the pull-offs to use them are few and small typically. It’s bragging rights are the 318 curves in only 11 miles. I like the road, but I’m not sure I’d put it on the best 15 list due to the lack of opportunities to enjoy the views. You should ride it for the adventure and to credit yourself with conquering the famous Dragon.
Coming in at number 2 is the Blue Ridge Parkway. I can’t argue this at all. Loaded with fantastic riding and incredible vistas, this road goes through North Carolina and into Virginia. It’s 469 miles of beauty, tunnels, curves and views that stay with you for life. Great towns to stop overnight such as Asheville and Roanoke. Smart riders would extend this north and do the Shenandoah Skyway for even more spectacular riding. This should be on your list as the best riding in the east.
Indisputably, number 1 is The Beartooth Highway through Beartooth Pass. This is an OMG to the extreme. It is my favorite place on the planet as it rises to nearly 12,000 feet. If you take the road from Red Lodge, MT going west you pass through many types of terrain and eventually enter Yellowstone National Park. The beauty of this road is amazing from both the riding perspective and the scenery angle. The fact that it is US 212 means it’s paved and well maintained. It closes in the fall when the snow hits and typically doesn’t open until Memorial Day weekend. Put this at the top of your list and definitely go into Yellowstone.