Summer is the perfect time for motorcycle road trips. The scenery, the history, it’s all waiting for you. To help you decide where to go, we’ve picked 7 of our favorite routes that’ll take you through the southern United States.
Located only 75 miles west of the Washington-Baltimore megalopolis, the Skyline Drive is easily accessible to millions of East Coast motorcycle riders. The scenic drive winds 105 miles along the top of the Blue Ridge Mountain in Shenandoah National Park. There’s an entrance fee of $25 per motorcycle, but it’s well worth it. There are only two intermediate interchanges along the entire route and the speed limit is a leisurely 35 mph. Bring a camera to capture the views from 75 scenic pullouts. Skyline Drive runs from Front Royal to Waynesville, Virginia, where it connects to the northern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
If ever there was a road built for motorcycle riders, it’s the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP). Perched atop the ridges of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the BRP connects Shenandoah National Park with Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The parkway stretches for 469 miles of very well-maintained two-lane road with speed limits mostly set at 45 mph and even slower in busy recreation areas. The BRP offers a number of scenic pullouts with spectacular views, along with many great outdoor recreational opportunities. Construction on the parkway started on September 11, 1935, with the final section—the Lynn Cove Viaduct—opening 52 years later on September 11, 1987. You’ll find this an epic motorcycle ride.
Hidden in the remote corner where southwestern North Carolina and southeastern Tennessee meet, the Cherohala Skyway is a 43-mile scenic drive off the beaten track. The remoteness means less traffic and 15 pullouts offer views of the undisturbed natural beauty of the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests, whose names are combined to give this skyway its name. Rising to just over a mile high, this two-lane scenic road features sweeping curves as it climbs over the mountains. Here, you won’t find crossroads, services, or restrooms—just miles of riding fun.
This is one of the most famous motorcycle destination roads in the eastern United States, if not the whole nation. If you live to ride your motorcycle through twisty roads, the Dragon is for you. Tail of the Dragon packs 318 curves into 11 miles as the road winds between Tennessee and North Carolina, along the southern edge of Great Smoky Mountain National Park. You’ll find a restaurant, gas station, motel, and camping available at the North Carolina end. On the weekend during riding season, it’s an impromptu motorcycle festival as hundreds of motorcyclists tame the Dragon.
Covering 444 miles between Nashville, Tennessee, and Natchez, Mississippi, the Natchez Trace passes through three states—including the northwest corner of Alabama. A modern two-lane road follows the course of the original Trace, which was first carved by migrating animals, then expanded by indigenous people starting 2,000 years ago, before becoming a major route for an expanding America. In fact, you can find the original footpath in several places. The Natchez Trace is a scenic wonderland for motorcycle riding that also offers all the outdoor adventures you’d expect from a national park.
The Talladega Scenic Drive is the southernmost national scenic byway in the Appalachian Mountain range. Its 26 miles are entirely located within the Talladega National Forest. Also known as Alabama State Route 281, it meanders into the forest as it takes you to the entrance of Cheaha Mountain State Park. Unlike other national scenic byways, it doesn’t connect one community to another and has very little traffic. Located between Atlanta, Georgia, and Birmingham, Alabama, the northern entrance of the Talladega Scenic Drive is located on U.S. Highway 78 west of Heflin, Alabama.
Just west of Tallahassee, Florida, you’ll find the Big Bend Scenic Byway in the Apalachicola National Forest. The Big Bend Scenic Byway is divided into two main sections that describe the changing landscape—the Forest Trail Byway and the Coastal Trail Byway. Together, they cover about 220 miles of great motorcycle riding and provide access to the best outdoor adventures on the Florida panhandle.
Till next time, ride safe!
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*Data accuracy is subject to this article's publication date.