Motorcyclists are a special breed, especially those who want to take cross-country motorcycle vacations. Any of the 10 motorcycle trips below can be ridden as an overnight trip or can be the start of a longer adventure. Numbers 8 through 10 are focused on taking a week or more.
This 469-mile US National Parkway is called “America’s Favorite Drive.” With a speed limit of 45 miles per hour, it encourages you to take in the forested mountains and pastures of the Appalachian Highlands. Plan for at least two days. You’ll cruise through the Great Smoky Mountains, Civil War sites, and Shenandoah National Park. If you want to explore even more consider taking the Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park for 105 more miles. The spring and fall colors on the trees are some of the best in the country, but avoid weekend traffic.
Take this 167-mile, two-lane road between Brunswick and Machias in any season, though summertime is crowded due to tourists visiting the area. This is a different type of riding experience, which is not about high-speed twists but about taking your time to cruise Victorian towns like Bath, stop in seaside parks like Camden Hills State Park, eat in places like The Lobster Shack in Rockland, and stay at a bed and breakfast. Scenic detours off the route include Acadia National Park and the Owls Head Lighthouse in Rockland.
Bikers often start in Panguitch, Utah, then ride US 89 south-east until hitting Scenic Byway 12, which snakes all the way to Torrey, Utah through 124 miles of spectacular desert and forest. You’ll pass Bryce Canyon National Park—worth seeing with its amazing red spires. Then, you’ll go through Dixie National Forest and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and end near Capitol Reef National Park. Take your time and enjoy the red and pink rock formations, dried sea beds, forests, and sagebrush flats. Think about staying overnight to enjoy the colorful desert sunsets and sunrises.
Originally a walking trail carved out by bison and the Natchez natives for maximum visibility along a ridge, this ride boasts a consistently great view of rolling hills and cypress swamps for 444 miles between Natchez, Mississippi and Nashville, Tennessee. The modern parkway has two paved lanes, no stop signs, and no trucks are allowed. Plan to stay at one of the many B&Bs and be sure to stop to see Civil War battlegrounds, the original Native American walking trail, a ghost town called Rocky Springs, waterfalls, and the Natchez Trace Visitor Center in Tupelo, Mississippi.
The best section of California State Route 1 to experience from a motorcycle is the 123 miles from Carmel to Morro Bay—rugged coastline that includes redwood forest, beaches, seals, mansions, and hairpin turns. The two lanes, curves, cliffs, and fog in the summer will demand your concentration. Stop at any turnout for a beautiful view. This stretch has very little visual pollution to interrupt the natural beauty of Big Sur. Avoid the traffic of summer weekends, and call in advance to visit Hearst Castle. If you want a longer trip, the highway runs about 655 miles from Orange County to Mendocino County and continues from there into Oregon.
The River Road, one of the most scenic drives in Texas, is a 111-mile stretch of Highway 170 that hugs the Rio Grande from Candelaria to Terlingua, offering plenty of spots to stop and hike in canyons and or walk along the shores of the Rio Grande (watch out for the purple cactus). Hot in the summer, it’s best enjoyed in the spring and fall. You’ll ride past the adobe fortress Fort Leaton, red and purple cliffs, lava formations, and Big Bend Ranch State Park—a good place to camp.
This All-American Road is a 233-mile loop through the San Juan Mountains that passes ski resorts, Mesa Verde National Park, two national forests, and mining towns founded in the 1800s. There are lots of stops for pictures of mountain ridges, peaks, river valleys, red rock canyons, colorful aspens, cliffs, and waterfalls. But watch out for the drop-offs, curves, and sudden changes in elevation, as well as mountain goats, bears, and deer. The town of Ouray is called the Switzerland of America because it’s enclosed by mountains on three and a half sides, is a unique place to visit.
This is a customizable adventure that can take as much or little time as you want. The complete historic route takes you from Chicago to Missouri, then through Tulsa in Oklahoma, northern Texas, and on to Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico. In Arizona, you can head north from Flagstaff to see the southern part of the Grand Canyon. Before ending at the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, California, you can detour to Las Vegas, Nevada and the Mojave Desert in California. For a shorter trip, decide what part you want to see most, such as Albuquerque to Santa Monica, and look up inns, campsites, parks, and attractions along your stretch. Just plan ahead for intense heat in the summer.
This is a scenic highway route that commemorates Lewis and Clark’s Expedition of 1804 to 1806 and includes stops at historic sites from their journey. It begins in the city of Wood River, Illinois and ends at the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon after 3,700 miles. A full tour can take one to two weeks and offers the huge open spaces of Montana, the forests of the Cascade Range, and the enjoyable curves of roads that occasionally follow the Cascade, Columbia, and Missouri rivers. Enjoy views that look untouched since the days of the Wild West.
This National Scenic Byway starts in Itasca State Park in northern Minnesota and follows the course of the Mississippi River through 10 states, ending on the coast of Louisiana. As it passes through different states, often along US 61, follow the green steamboat wheel road signs that say “Great River Road” to stay on the route. If you want to ride it all, plan for about a week to enjoy the wildlife, cliffs, forests, swamps, and meadows. One of the best things about this route is that bikers in each state cruise their own section, giving you a chance to meet and talk to local riders.
To make sure your next trip is a breeze or just have questions about financing your motorcycle be sure to contact Southeast Financial to talk to us about our great rates and get a fast decision. Get ready to enjoy the freedom of cruising the roads of America!