Top 15 Rides in the Lower 48

(November 29, 2017) I recently came across this article: 

which offers this Top 15 Rides list, with a preamble:

More than 230,000 membership of the American Motorcyclist Association voted for more than 100 roads, to choose the best motorcycling roads in the United States. The roads were voted on the entries via the AMA website. With all that votes, the AMA chose the best 15 motorcycling roads in the United States.

  1. Beartooth Highway, Montana and Wyoming. Beartooth Highway features breathtaking views of the Absaroka and Beartooth Mountains.
  2. Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina. It runs for 469 miles, mostly along the famous Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains.
  3. U.S. Route 129 -The Tail of the Dragon - on the North Carolina-Tennessee border. With 318 curves in 11 miles, is America's number one motorcycle and sports car road.
  4. Million Dollar Highway. The Million Dollar Highway, or U.S. 550, is one of the nation’s most spectacular drives. Driving south you'll be on the "outside" with no guardrails.
  5. California Route 1, Pacific Coast Highway. Highway 1 runs along much of the Pacific coast of California. It is famous for running along some of the most beautiful coastlines in the world.
  6. Going to the Sun Road, Glacier National Park, Montana. This engineering marvel spans 50 miles through some of the best sights in northwest Montana.
  7. Cherohala Skyway, North Carolina and Tennessee. The Cherohala Skyway (or Overhill Skyway) is a 43-mile (69 km) road that connects Tellico Plains, Tennessee, to Robbinsville, North Carolina.
  8. California Route 36. State Route 36 is a highway in California, from U.S. Route 101 in Humboldt County to U.S. Route 395 in Lassen County.
  9. U.S. Route 12, Lolo Pass, Idaho and Montana. Lolo Pass is a mountain pass at 5,233 feet (1,595 m) asl, in the northern Rocky Mountains
  10. Angeles Crest Highway, California Route 2. Angeles Crest Highway is a segment of California State Route 2. The road is 66 miles (106 km).
  11. Natchez Trace, from Natchez, Miss., to Nashville, Tenn. The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444-mile drive through exceptional scenery and 10,000 years of North American history, from Natchez to Nashville.
  12. US Route 33, Harrisonburg, Va., to Seneca Rocks, W.Va. U.S. Route 33 runs for 709 miles (1,141 km) from northern Indiana to Richmond, Virginia, passing through Ohio and West Virginia.
  13. California Route 58, McKittrick to Santa Margarita. State Route 58 is a highway across the California Coast Ranges, the southern San Joaquin Valley, the Tehachapi Mountains, the southern Sierra Nevada, and the Mojave Desert.
  14. Ohio Route 170, Calcutta to Poland.
  15. Washington Route 129 and Oregon Route 3, Clarkston, Wash., to Enterprise, Ore. State Route 129 (SR 129) is a state highway in Asotin County, Washington.

I've been fortunate enough to ride eight of these: 1-7, and 11. Here are my top 15 rides in the Lower 48, based on actual experience riding them, with links to some of my write-ups:

  1. Beartooth Highway (US 212, northeast of Yellowstone NP)
  2. California Route 1, Pacific Coast Highway (It's like the Blue Ridge Parkway, only running along the Pacific coastline.)
  3. Blue Ridge Parkway (Front Royal, Virginia to Cherokee, North Carolina) See also: Little Switzerland
  4. Going-to-the-Sun Road (Glacier NP, NW Montana)
  5. US 50 across Nevada ("America's Loneliest Highway"; preferably east to west all the way into South Lake Tahoe, CA)
  6. Million Dollar Highway (US 550 in SW Colorado)
  7. US 2 (From Everett, WA to Kalispell, MT) - cuts through southern-most part of Glacier NP
  8. Mount Rainier NP (preferably west to east: WA 410/WA 123/US 12)
  9. US 1 - Florida: Key Largo to Key West (See also Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.)
  10. US 1 - Maine coastline: Portland to Bar Harbor and north, including Acadia NP
  11. Cherohala Skyway (Tennesse/North Carolina)
  12. US 41/US 2 in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, including Copper Harbor, MI
  13. US 64: Northern New Mexico (Cimarron - Farmington)  
  14. NY 3: Adirondack Mountains, New York State (Watertown to Plattsburgh)
  15. US 2: Ferry from Port Kent, NY to Burlington, VT to Bangor, Maine

I've ridden the Natchez Trace Parkway and the Tail of the Dragon (US 129) and I'd place them in my top 20, but they can quite break into the top 15. It's really hard to choose a priority order for the top six in my list. They are all so remarkable in their own way. 

Honorable Mention

This road is in Canada so doesn't qualify for my US-only list above. I do highly recommend the Trans-Canada Highway - Route 1 from Canmore, Alberta to Sicamous, British Columbia. This route, which takes you through Banff and Revelstoke and across the headwaters of the Columbia River offers amazing beauty.

As always, keep the shiny side up!

-The Long Rider




PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>
Main | You Don’t Ride Over the Schofield Pass (Colorado) »