1. Pacific Coast Highway


Pacific Coast Highway, specifically between Monterey and San Luis Obispo (my old stomping grounds), is nothing less than wicked-awesome. Hairpins, bridges, Redwoods, cliffs, beaches, Pacific Ocean, sea animals, Big Sur, Nepenthe – there’s nothing in North America equal to this stretch of coastal motorcycle bliss. There’s much of Hwy 1 north of Monterey that should definitely be explored, but anything south of SLO isn’t worth the spent gas and rubber it takes to ride it. Best advice – don’t come in summertime. Plan your visit for October when the weather is at its best and the tourists in their Winnebago land whales have gone to hibernate, I’m assuming in Florida.

  • Larry

    Centennial Lake Road isn’t even the best riding road in Ontario, much less Canada/North America. Lake Superior Circle Tour? Gaspe in Quebedc? Cabot Trail in Cape Breton? Literally any road in BC or Alberta? The Dempster? Hell, the Dalton for that matter.

    • hunkyleepickle

      agreed. Almost anywhere in the province of BC should be on this list. Unfortunately its remoteness prevents the majority of people getting their two wheelers from enjoying it. What am i saying, that just makes it better for us locals!!!

      • GearDrivenCam

        On the one hand I completely agree – there are many more spectacularly scenic places to ride in Canada than Centennial Lake Road (including the north shore of Lake Superior, Gaspe, Icefields parkway that I’ve explored) that are incredibly rewarding on a motorcycle. But the one thing that Centennial Lake Road has going for it – is that it’s way more twisty, with a variety of changes in elevations quickly followed by tight turns – than any of the roads I’ve mentioned above. While it’s too short – it’s still the most fun-filled “roller-coaster of-a-road” I’ve ridden on. Whether that is enough to qualify for this list is another matter though.

  • Colonel Matumbo

    Thanks Tom…..I love “The top 10……” This one is like hey I’ve been down most and would agree on all counts. Now lets have the Top 10 roads Southern California …….tell us your secrets.

  • Paul

    North Carolina banned 18 wheelers a year ago and Tennessee just did the same, it’s a great ride but the weekend is definitely the most crowed week days are the best time to ride this beast. Cherohala Skyway 165 is close to the Dragon and a must ride..

    • panthalassa

      you posted this just as i was looking up http://autoweek.com/article/car-news/tennessee-bans-semi-trucks-tail-dragon
      and +1 on cherohala.

    • F R Burdett

      YES, the Cherohala is a MUST addition to “Slaying The Dragon”!!
      Start at Tellico Plains, going east on Cherohala. Go north to Deal’s Gap and ride the Dragon northwest and then turn north on Foothills Parkway to south on Hwy 321. Turn right onto Hwy 73 thru the Great Smoky Mtns. Park to US 441 S. to Cherokee. [If you want to go east just a few miles on Hwy 19, you can visit the Eastern Cherokee Reservation, as well as their Casino and several locations of other smaller Tribes in the area..] The Blue Ridge Parkway begins off of US 441 just north of Cherokee going east…
      Further east on 19 is “Wheels thru Time Motorcycle Museum.
      But take 19 west to Hwy 28 west…taking you BACK to Deal’s Gap and another run on the Dragon! THis time, stay on 129 to Hwy 72 over to Hwy 411 South less than 3 miles to South on 360 back down to Tellico Plains.
      It is ‘possible’ in 2 days. But take 3 or 4, or more, and enjoy the Casino and other sites… or even ‘double back’ on any of your most enjoyable spots.

  • Paul

    The Cherohala Shyway has long sweeping curves not as crowed as the Dragon we ride them both about three times a year we are about three hours away from them both so we make a whole day of riding usually around 450 miles..

    • Kevin Polito

      Cherohala Skyway, the Dragon, and the Foothills Parkway make up a nice ride.

  • jwaller

    The Three Sisters ride in Texas is an awesome ride, but if you go there and aren’t familiar with the ride, bring a friend. I’d suggest bringing a spot tracker. I was out there a few weeks ago and let a group of guys pass me. I was taking it slow and in a car, just showing my wife the place (she says there’s no way she’ll ride it on a bike). The guys I let pass were not speeding. The last of the guys went around a corner and I lost them for just a few seconds. I came around the corner and there was a guy on the ground in the middle of the road. No bike in sight. His bike went over the cliff. Some how he didn’t. We couldn’t get cellphone reception out there, but a rancher came by and his wife went up the road and eventually found reception. It took about 1.5 hours to finally get life flight out there. The guy had just come in from California the night before and was riding a friend’s bike. Unfamiliar bike in an unfamiliar place and a momentary lapse of concentration just about cost the guy his life. If he had stayed on the bike and gone over the cliff, no one would have known exactly where to start looking for him until the buzzards started circling in a day or two.
    Another thing about the Three Sisters; bring lots of water and a few snacks. Make sure you have a bike with a large gas tank. Once you’re out there, don’t skip stopping at a gas station if you see one. There’s gas in Camp Wood, Leakey, and Vanderpool, but sometimes those stations are out of gas. Plan accordingly. If you go, check out the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum in Vanderpool.

    • Frank L

      Glad I read your comments on the 3 sisters. It was on our list to do on our way to Oregon but seeing as how we’re pulling a trailer? doesn’t sound like the ride my wife would go for.

  • Philip Christian

    We need 96 roads to ride! At least two for every state in the Lower 48.

    • SBennett

      I’m down with that, Phil!

  • Vrooom

    The Beartooth, CA Hwy 1, Utah Hwy 12, and the Blue Ridge would have made my list, the rest not so much. The Icefields Parkway in Banff/Jasper, the Cassiar Highway in BC/Yukon, California Highway 36, Colorado highway 149 would be more to my taste as far as sport touring goes.

    • Chet

      Colorado 149 is practically in my back yard. When I lived in western NC there was an entrance to the BRP 4 miles from the end of my driveway.

    • Doug Singer

      Around Kootney lake is a twistier more scenic close-up view and ferries than the 97 between Banff and Jasper both are great views

  • Frank L

    There seems to be a difference in opinion on the top 10 roads. Seems like at least twice a yr. there is a top 10 list a seldom have the same rides… different parts of the USA has their own rides. Heading for Oregon/Washington in mid May from Florida and looking for scenic rides on the way out. We’re on a GL1800, pulling a trailer so have to be carful about the routes we take. This will be our 3rd trip to the west coast and looking forward to new adventures……

    • Chet

      The ride from Lewiston to Hell’s Canyon is epic.

      • Frank L

        Lewiston to Hell’s Canyon? Should I assume it’s in NC? (thedragonfly39@gmail.com) I’ve done the “tail” a couple of times, both in the rain.

        • Chet

          Lewiston, WA, to Hell’s Canyon in Oregon. It’s in the middle of nowhere (if you cross the canyon you’ll go into Idaho). Spectacular ride.

          • Frank L

            *Hi Chet, sorry I assumed because you were talking about east coast rides, “tail of the dragon” you might have been referring to that area when you mentioned Lewiston / hell’s canyon and not being familiar with those places, well, you know what I mean…. We’ll be sure to check that out.*

  • Chet

    Tail of the Dragon…or, as riders in western North Carolina call it, just another road. Having lived in the area for 30 years it doesn’t even make my top ten list in the state. But…if you’re into State Troopers, it’s the place to go. I’ve ridden every US road on the list.

    • F R Burdett

      Well…The Dragon IS a little bit more “Challenging” for sheer number of turns and ‘technical’ hairpins and such…just to say you have “Slain the Dragon”. (-;
      But I agree that the entire area is a virtual “Candy Store” of roads that are in very well maintained condition! And much less Law Enforcement presence.
      BTW — Police are more unforgiving for crossing the centerline than for speeding! (unless you are going recklessly fast!) MANY riders will enjoy the ‘less twisted’ roads more than the extreme roads. Myself included.

  • norskmann

    For a twist on riding up Hwy 1 to Big Sur/Monterey… take the 101 up through SLO and on past Paso Robles to Nacimiento Ferguson road which winds through Ft. Hunter Ligget and comes out above Gorda just south of Nepenthe. Out of this world scenery, twisties, streams, mountains and virtually zero traffic. Living nearby, I’m fortunate to hit this route often throughout the year, but mostly in spring, summer and early fall. Wold ride

    Then there is the back way to Hollister via 198, or the Pozo Saloon past Santa Margarita on Pozo road… too many great roads, fortunately I’m retired…

  • SBennett

    I’ve done most of these rides. There outta be some rating method that factors traffic into the equation. PCH is spectacular but there’s too much traffic — worth it for the scenery but it’s slow going and it’s well patrolled. For my money, Grand Staircase Escalante is the finest motorcycling in America. The combination of breathtaking scenery and the quality of the roads are unsurpassed. Passed? You bet — police presence is nearly nil. I’ve done the Alps three times and planning a fourth. On this side of the pond, Escalante is the next best motorcycling experience I’ve had.

  • Kevin Polito

    A benefit of the 45-mph speed limit on the BRP is improved gas mileage, if you have an engine with a lot of low-end torque that allows burbling along at that speed in the higher gears. I got 56 mpg (normally around 40 mpg) on my Kawasaki Nomad.

  • Danny Shaw

    I’ve ridden several of these. Highway 49 (California) north of Mariposa is really, really good. Great pavement and not too many blind corners.

  • Don

    Penna Rte 6, border to border. Chatted with a guy & his wife who came down from Canada to ride it

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  • Daisycutter

    US Hwy 12 from Missoula MT up Lolo Pass and across into Idaho is pure MC heaven. Leaving Missoula you ride 75 miles uphill with no straightaway over a couple hundred yards long. At the top is the squiggly road ahead sign, Next 122 Miles it says. Downhill the whole way. I did it as the opening stint of a 11 hour haul (700 miles) to Portland, OR. Pulled out of Missoula at 6:30 am and was the only vehicle on the road. I was able to maintain 60-110 the whole way over the mountain on my 95 Trophy 1200, just what it was made for.

    • K. Paul Cook

      Agreed. But didn’t you read the oath of silence when you pulled on to US Hwy 12 preventing you from posting on motorcycle sites. 🙂 just kidding MO missed the whole Pacific NW and Mountain states. Guess we are considered the boondocks. LOL

  • F R Burdett

    The Dragon Tail is now LIMITED to single vehicles [no trailers!] and no vehicles over 26′ in length!
    Yes, you can still get caught behind an RV or commercial truck, or even ‘meet’ one coming around a blind curve. But not a 55′ trailer taking up every inch of the curve!
    The REAL time to ride is to go to the websites and find out a day when they are doing a “Special Event” where the road is CLOSED to traffic and only Sport cars can drive it, or only motorcycles! {But you will still experience “overcrowding” on days like that..}
    My suggestion is to rent a hotel room, or a mountain cabin(especially Great for couples!), and spend several DAYS riding a “Candy Store” of roads! The roads in the entire Smokies and Blue Ridge areas are well cared for, and even the ‘little’ roads can be absolute diamonds to ride! Go to: AmericaRidesMaps.com and spend $20 to order “100 Great Motorcycle Rides in the Smoky Mountains”…Rides for all types of riders — Cruisers, ADV, SuperSport, off-road — and sweeping curves or VERY tight twisties or long sweeping Highways with wonderful views! And even ‘specialty rides’ like Waterfall tours and such…
    And be sure to include N. Georgia and the more southern end of Hwy 129, and the dozens of roads — and tourist sites — like Blood Mtn. and the “6-Gaps Loop”…
    Call me when you are ready, and I will be glad to be your Tour Guide! (-:

  • F R Burdett

    Inside of TX it is usually referred to as the 3 TWISTED Sisters…and it lives up to that.
    There are also several nearby roads that are a little more ‘relaxed’ with some “high-speed sweepers” that can be Great fun!
    [When I rode those roads, I had the tremendous advantage of riding with a local Police Officer — meaning that she knew WELL the condition of the roads and every turn or curve, as well as having ‘immunity’ for our rates of speed!]

  • F R Burdett

    Also check out “The Pig Trail Scenic Byway” in northern Arkansas…

  • PhilAm Garcia Fernandez

    Palomar Mountain in San Diego California should be in this list. Its a track riders dream to ride on.

  • moto miguel

    I had the great good fortune a couple years ago to ride Beartooth pass in terrific weather, and it was epic – grand and glorious, and the only complaint I can imagine is having to make the choice between riding it fast (I did) and slowing down to marvel at the stunning views. So I stopped a lot. If you go to ride this, May I recommend staying at the Grand Hotel in Big Timber? One other thing – when planning the ride, I was surveying the road via google street view, and – this is hilarious – on part of the road, you view a car ahead nosing out of a pullout, and as you click to the next shot, it continues to nose out, and nose out, until you think, “WTF? is this guy gonna pull out in front of me?” (you know, just like in real life) and – HE DOES! And then the following shots show the google car driver going around him (across a double yellow line, as you do) and as it passes the schmuck, one can just imagine the google driver gesticulating like a Frenchman! I hope they haven’t redone that road – check it out, it’s a riot. Somewhere along the summit. Cheerio.

  • Areyoukiddingme?

    Wow, best rides of North America and you have one ride in Canada. Apparently you guys don’t get out much.

  • James Doughty

    You guys need to check out the white mountains in NH… specifically the Kancamagus Highway (rt 112) and Rt 3. Pretty much any road in the white mountains is spectacular on 2 wheels.

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  • Vegas Rider

    #1 in my book is the Beartooth/Chief Joseph hwy, but a solid second would have to be the Rattlesnake Grade along the Oregon/Washington border. Oregon Hwy 3 and Washington Hwy 129 between Enterprise Or and Lewiston Id. A must!

  • K. Paul Cook

    So glad you missed the roads in Colorado and Washington state. 🙂 Just kidding but seems like you don’t get out much (from Southern California).

  • I have ridden through much of North America, it continues to amaze me how BC’s roads are left out on these lists all the time. More specifically the Kootenay Regions of BC. The roads twist through mountains, change elevations, many are along lakes, creeks or rivers. Yet the well maintained highways in the kootenays are never congested. This is one of my favorite routes anywhere. http://grumpybiker.com/motorcycle-day-ride-nelson-bc-to-creston-bc/

  • jose

    Top 10 and not one in Colorado. I feel for you. You missed the best in N.A. Best known in CO, CO 550/145 Loop aka. Million Dollar Hwy, CO 141 aka. Unaweep/Tabaguache road, CO 82 Independence Pass. If you need to stay close to the front range then you take peak to peak hwy. If you want to get high (not that type of high) trail ridge road that is the highest continuous road in N.A. or if you need to get really high (again not that type of high) then ride Mt.Evans road the highest paved road in N.A. I can keep going for a while.

  • Alan Buck

    How about HIghway 40 “The Forrestry Trunk Rd” up here in Canada, For the Very Best in all inclusive Motorcycle Vacations in The Foothills of Alberta’s Rockies, Check out http://www.rmabtc.com

  • Nick

    Pacific Coast Highway absolutely is the best road for taking a ride, I went there with my girlfriend in August, I’m bound to say that a long ride is an awesome dating idea for motorcycle riders http://www.bikerdatingsites.us/biker-dating-idea-a-long-ride/ . And we will go Centennial Lake Road soon, hope there will be a lot of fun there.