America is full of amazing roads. Here’s a few of our favorites.
Our friends at Law Tigers are not just lawyers- they are riders. They represent us when we need them, and they ride with us when we don’t. As we finish this insane year, and hope for better days in the next, here’s a few of their favorite roads to shoot for in 2021. We’ve ridden a few of these ourselves, and we’d love to hear from you in the comments below about some of your faves.
Let’s ride in 2021!
Road Dirt associate editor Phil “getting it” through the Dragon.
Whether it’s weather, holidays, or some other circumstances that keeps me from riding, being off the bike for too long always leaves me with an itch- something many of us can relate to. Being cooped up in the house even without the occasional escape for a few hours of riding can get old. I have the overwhelming urge to pack my gear on the bike, throw a dart at a map and hit the road! You know what that means- get out your motorcycle road trip checklist and start the planning process. This will be over before we know it, so we had best be ready!
1. TAIL OF THE DRAGON, US 129 – NORTH CAROLINA
A good friend of mine recommended the Tail of the Dragon which runs through the Great Smoky Mountains between Deals Gap, North Carolina and Chilhowee Lake in Tennessee. There are 318 tight, technical curves in the 11-mile section of US 129. Even though this is a shorter ride, there are many other rides in the area so you can make a day of it. Check out the Tail of the Dragon website for all the info and motorcycle trip maps.
*Be sure to hit our personal favorite road in the Southeast, the Cherohala Skyway. Read about it here.
2. THE DEVIL’S HIGHWAY, ROUTE 666 (CURRENTLY U.S. ROUTE 491) – ARIZONA
Kat, another good friend who spends a good deal of time working in Phoenix, says this is one of the best motorcycle roads in Arizona. It is a nearly 200 mile stretch of U.S. Route 491 which runs from Alpine, AZ to Clifton, AZ about 4 ½ hours East of Phoenix. Like the Deals Gap run, it has a lot of curves, too many to count. Many are marked at 10mph and they mean it. Morenci, AZ is a popular place to fuel both the bike and the body after a couple hours of intense, desert conditions riding.
3. BEARTOOTH ALL-AMERICAN ROAD, HIGHWAY 212 – MONTANA
Beartooth Highway starts in Red Lodge, MT, dips down into Wyoming and ends at Cooke City, MT just 68 miles later. I did this ride on one of my “long way to Sturgis” trips. Coming from Iowa, it’s not on the way but made for some memorable riding. Beartooth was referred to as “the most beautiful drive in America” by Charles Kuralt, the famous television reporter. With the elevation ranging from 7,300 feet to 11,000 feet above sea level, you can expect some grand views as it skirts Yellowstone and Gallatin National Forests. The ride can take all day if you stop to enjoy some of the breathtaking views, quaint eateries and shops.
4. THE THREE SISTERS, RR 335, 336 AND 337 – TEXAS
Located a short ride Northwest of San Antonio, the Three Sisters (AKA Twisted Sisters) motorcycle route is in the heart of Texas Hill Country, particularly the Frio River Valley. It gets its name from the three “Farm to Market” roads the ride consists of. When most folks think of Texas they think of wide open, hot, flat space. While it can be hot in Hill Country, it is anything but flat. If you’re looking for a little something different in Texas, this ride might be for you.
Washington Pass, one of Road Dirt writer Ted’s favorite places on the planet.
5. PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY, ROUTE 1 – CALIFORNIA
A Pacific Coast Highway motorcycle ride takes you more than 600 miles along the entire coast of California. Running all the way from San Diego in the South to Crescent City in the North, there is a veritable smorgasbord of things to see along the way. Incredible ocean views, rugged cliffs, wine country, redwood forests and many famous landmarks can be seen along the way. There is an in depth review of the pacific highway motorcycle ride here. Even the best writing cannot describe its true beauty, you have to experience it for yourself.
6. ARCHES NATIONAL PARK – UTAH
There are so many incredible rides that start and end in Moab, UT. Arches National Park is one of the more breathtaking of them all. I’ve visited here with friends many times and am always left speechless. The topography in that part of the country is unlike anywhere else I’ve been. The fiery orange sandstone carved deep by rainwater over thousands of years to expose layers of soil is nature’s timepiece and a sight to behold. This would be a worthy addition to the list of best cross-country motorcycle routes.
7. OZELLO TRAIL RIDE, STATE ROUTE 494 – FLORIDA
There are many great rides in Florida, but few have the variety of scenery the Ozello Trail Ride has to offer. This ride starts about an hour North of Tampa. Head east from Highway 98 between Homosassa Springs and Crystal River and follow the twisty two-lane black top road. You’ll ride through the Crystal River Preserve State Park eventually ending up at the Gulf of Mexico where you can enjoy some time at the beach to compliment the ride.
8. COASTAL ROUTE 1, US HIGHWAY 1 – MAINE
This 230-mile ride along the coast of Maine is one of the best motorcycle trips on the East Coast. It showcases breathtaking ocean views with lighthouses and mountain vistas. Maine is rich with fresh seafood; you can enjoy lunch at one of the many restaurants along the route. You need to set aside a couple of days for this ride as there are so many stops that can be made as you travel along.
9. CASCADE LOOP – WASHINGTON
Known as Washington’s Ultimate Road Trip, this 440-mile loop lets you enjoy almost everything Washington has to offer. You’ll experience the forests and streams of the Stevens Pass Greenway, the mountains and glaciers of the North Cascades Scenic Byway and the beaches and sea air of the Whidbey Scenic Isle Way.
The fabled Blue Ridge Parkway. In Fall foliage. Heaven on earth.
10. BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY – NORTH CAROLINA AND VIRGINIA
The Blueridge Parkway is touted as America’s Favorite Drive. A 469-mile ride that begins in Cherokee, NC winding its way through the Appalachian and Smoky Mountains before ending in Afton, VA. You’ll have a better opportunity to appreciate the awe-inspiring views as the speed limit is only 45 mph and no large trucks are allowed. There are many scenic overlooks along the way as well as plenty of places to stop for fuel and food and enjoy the local culture.
*This is a fave of ours at Road Dirt. Check out our Fall ride here.
11. THE OZARKS – ARKANSAS AND MISSOURI
If you have never ridden the Ozarks, put it on your list! We have been going every spring for the past few years and still haven’t done all of the rides. Some of our favorites are the Pig Trail, Eureka Springs to Jasper, the Ozark Moonshine Run, and the Arkansas Dragon. This is a very rider friendly area. The locals always welcome us and the camaraderie was just as much a part of the trip as the riding was.
12. TUNNEL OF TREES – MICHIGAN
As Michigan motorcycle road trips go, the Tunnel of Trees is one of the crown jewels. Located as far North on the “hand” as you can go, this ride along the shore of Lake Michigan is a part of the North Country National Scenic Trail. Tunnel of Trees is one of six ride loops that start and end in Cadillac, MI. For an added adventure, ride the Ironton Ferry across Lake Charlevoix.
13. THE BADLANDS – SOUTH DAKOTA
This ride takes you through the rock formations and forests unique to this area of South Dakota. If you are a wildlife fan, you’ll enjoy this ride. There are vast prairie dog colonies, massive herds of buffalo and the occasional bunch of donkeys! Head Southeast on Highway 44 out of Rapid City. After the ride, stop at the world-famous Wall Drug for a cool drink and some ice cream!
14. NORTHWEST PASSAGE SCENIC BYWAY – IDAHO
This route is a part of the trail Lewis and Clark took through Idaho. The 202-mile ride takes you through the Clearwater River Canyon, Camas Prairie, the Lochsa Wild and Scenic River and ends at Lolo Pass at the Montana border. Historical markers along the route give you an opportunity to learn some of the rich heritage of the area.
*This is a local favorite of Road Dirt’s Ted Edwards and his crew. Check out his review of these epic roads here.
15. INDEPENDENCE PASS – COLORADO
Take a trip through ski country in the summer. At 12,095 feet above sea level, Independence Pass is only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day as it can become impassable in winter months. The route will take you through the ski areas of Aspen and Snowmass which look much different without snow. Rising above the tree line allows for views of the valleys below. End the ride in Glenwood Springs and enjoy a nice soak in the Iron Mountain Hot Springs to unwind.
Trevor Alexander of Ted’s “Wild Rose Squad” preparing to thrash a portion of Lolo Pass.
Start Planning Now
There are hundreds, if not thousands more trips than mentioned here. Pick your destination, plan your route and get your bike & gear ready! Being cooped up inside isn’t fun for anyone, so when riding season opens back up, you’ll be ready to mount up and ride. Your bike is your ticket to the freedom that only the open road has to offer.
Be safe, we’ll see you on the road!
Written By: Dean Giese – Law Tigers Contributor
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Typo? The Devils highway in Az (Alpine to Clifton) is designated US 191 …at least it has been each time I’ve ridden it.
Also, in my humble opinion, there are several roads in the US that are more scenic and enjoyable to ride than the Dragon; US 60 (Globe, Az to Show Low, Az) is just one, SR 12 (Torrey, Ut to Escalante, Ut) is another….
The travel and highway site I looked up to verify, said it was US Route 491, a spur off of US 191. Yeah, it confounded me briefly as well. Thanks for addressing it.
I agree, the Dragon is quite the ride, but there are plenty of others just as, if not more, enjoyable. Thanks for sharing these, Ken.
Million Dollar Highway, 550 in Colorado is amazing!!
Yes indeed! That should definitely make the list.
The Dragon has no side roads and they finally stopped semi trucks from using the Dragon, plus a company named Killboy Photos cleans the road off weekly. But the down side is the ambulance is 45 mins away, if anyone sees you slide off. Dude stayed for a few days at the bottom till a photographer heard him, his buddy died. One dies every year on something. Been 100 times and only 3 of them I did NOT SEE A WRECK. No joke, we have a TREE OF SHAME covered in bike parts for a reason. STAY IN YOUR LANE, let bikes and fast cars pass you to save the inevitable danger from being passed by a most likely poor motorcycle rider. And watch out for the cops, they have fast bikes and know the Dragon the best, so you won’t outrun them. 10 year Dragon local, 318 turns in 11.6 miles, no side roads, no wrecks, no tickets, chhaaa!!!!!! YouTube out quick for 4K rides of the area.
I’ve ridden the Dragon numerous times over the years as well, and honestly, I’ll take the Cherohala Skyway over it every day. My favorite road in the Southeast, by far.
If you’re heading all the way to South Dakota, the Black Hills is a million times better and more scenic than the Badlands, which are next to one straight ass road to nowhere. 🙂
Hoping to ride the Black Hills myself in the next couple of years. I agree, a “must-ride”.
Mount Nebo in Arkansas is not for rookies.
Hi David, having ridden 7 of the 15 roads mentioned here, you bring up a good point. Many of these roads are not for beginning riders whose enthusiasm may exceed their skill. The Cascade Loop can deliver near freezing temperatures in June, Tail of the Dragon demands concentration and Independence Pass leading into Aspen is narrow as hell west of the Continental Divide. Please go enjoy these roads but live to ride them again the next day.