Most of these I’ve traversed, but I attempted to avoid personal bias by including a few I’d like to add to my personal list of best roads ridden. So much exists out there to ride a top 10 list doesn’t do justice, nay, not even a top 100 list would begin to scratch the amount of asphalt deemed epic by motorcycle standards. These are but 10 of the best known stretches; the roads that every motorcyclist should at least ride a few of in his or her lifetime.
Often, the best roads to ride are the hidden gems you stumble across by chance, during an episode of losing your way from the road more travelled, only to be lost to romantic memory upon an attempt to relocate said road. A few times I’ve attempted to retrace an unplanned detour of riding excellence only to find it’s seemingly vanished like some version of moto-Brigadoon.
If you’ve ridden any of these routes or have suggestions of your own, we’d love to hear from ya. As motorcyclists, our thirst for the next epic ride is never quenched. The expectation of forthcoming riding epicness is, for many, what keeps us riding. Additions can be made in the comments section below.
10. Blue Ridge Parkway
The only bad thing about this route is its ridiculously low 45 mph maximum speed limit. Maintaining that speed is difficult on a vintage bike let alone a modern two wheeler. I’m guilty, as I’m sure many others are too, for exceeding the speed limit, and taking my chances of incurring a very pricey ticket. I got lucky, many don’t (Troy didn’t). If you manage to avoid law enforcement or just have the wherewithal to go that slow, the Blue Ridge Parkway is an exceptionally beautiful stretch of road, especially in Fall. Corners are, of course, plentiful and challenging. Enjoy!
9. The Grand Staircase
Located in Utah, between Bryce Canyon to the West and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area to the East, Highway 12 snakes through the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument for 130 miles of resplendent motorcycle nirvana. This is the first road in this list I have yet to ride, so I’ll have to rely on Brasfield and Duke to vouch for its epicness (though Duke warns to avoid Officer Perkins…), but rest assured, one day soon I’ll be able to. Considering its location, I’m thinking an ADV bike packed with camping equipment for exploring all the off-road areas to be the bike of choice.
Outside the major metropolitan areas, California is nothing but one huge motorcycle ride (Whatever! – Ode To My Favorite Road). There are three specific California routes in this list, but the entire list could exist of nothing more than Golden State roadways. One of them is Idyllwild. Nestled in the San Jacinto mountains is the town of Idyllwild, the center point for highways 243 and 74. It’s where we filmed the video for our 2014 Sport-Touring Final Smackdown. We ride and test here often, while up a fire road to an elevation of 7,300 feet is where I often take ADV bikes camping at Boulder Basin. Highways 74 and 243, however, provide some of the most thrilling asphalt this side of Palm Springs.
7. Copper Canyon
This one’s specifically for all the adventure-touring riders out there. Copper Canyon, in the southwestern part of of Chihuahua, Mexico, is said to be larger and deeper than the Grand Canyon. I’ve never been, but the place has been on my radar since I first heard about it in the early ’90s. According to MotoDiscovery, the tour company that’ll guide you on a nine-day, 1,450-mile round trip from El Paso, Texas to Batopilas, Chihuahua (see above map), “road surfaces consist of gravel, rock, very little sand, occasional stream crossing and everything in between. You will also ride some very fun and sporting paved mountain roads.” Sounds delicious!
6. The Dragon/Tail Of The Dragon
The Dragon (a.k.a. Tail of The Dragon) is one of the most challenging roadways you’ll ever traverse. You’ve probably heard its claim to fame of 318 curves in 11 miles, so you’re pretty much leaning to one side or the other the entire time you’re in motion on this road, bordered on its east end by the famous Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort. Problem is, The Dragon is famous, and that makes it dangerous. Men and women of skill and no skill go way too fast in everything from motorcycles to sportscars, and then throw in the occasional errant 18-wheeler and you’ve a recipe for carnage. Definitely go ride The Dragon if given the chance, just be wary of what might be lurking around each of those (and there are many) blind corners.
5. The Three Sisters
I’ve ridden The Hill Country of Texas before, but that was many years ago and I’m uncertain if we took this route. Regardless, if The Three Sisters is anything like the route we did take, it’s sure to be awesome. Comprised of three roads (hence the name) RR335, RR336 and RR337, The Three Sisters twists and turns through canyons and next to sheer cliffs. Ride Texas Magazine once claimed RR337 to be the #1 road to ride in The Lone Star State. Another good thing about this route is its location just outside Austin. So, when you’re done riding, there’s sure to be delicious BBQ and awesome live music!
4. California State Route 58
What Highway 58 loses in scenery it makes up for in thrilling, near-racetrack-like cornering. The middle portion through California’s Central Valley is comprised of long, triple-digit straights with a set of roller coaster hills on the East end that’ll test your bravery. Both ends are capped off with miles of undulating, serpentine pavement with minimal traffic and law enforcement. This is part of MO’s annual route to Laguna Seca for attending the MotoGP races – when there were GPs at Laguna Seca (why aren’t we going to WSB?).
3. Centennial Lake Road
For the third entry in this list we travel north of the border to Centennial Lake Road in Ontario, Canada. This 60-mile stretch of tarmac rolling and twisting through Ontario’s Highlands was resurfaced not too long ago, so hopefully the frigid weather up there hasn’t messed it up too much. Last October, Can-Am launched its 2015 Spyder F3 incorporating a two-day ride through the wilds of Ontario. We didn’t navigate Centennial Lake Road, but what we did ride was equally awesome. I’d go back and ride in Canada (when it’s warm) anytime. Locals say Centennial Lake Road also goes by a couple aliases: Calabogie Road and Black Donald Lake Road. Not far away is Calabogie Motorsports Park. With its 20 turns in 3.05 miles of rolling hills, we hear it’s one of the best tracks in Canada.
2. Beartooth Highway
Everything about this route speaks epic: scenery, sweeping corners, switchbacks, wildlife, elevation, etc. It’s one of the roads in this list I haven’t ridden but desperately want to. Located in the upper left corner of Wyoming, above Yellowstone Park, and bordering Idaho and Montana, the road wends its way through the Beartooth Mountains peaking at nearly 11,000 feet at Beartooth Pass. With that kind of elevation and geographical location the road remains open only during the nicest months of the year, and even then, I’m told to expect severe weather. But I’d never let something as insignificant as weather stop me from riding this road. That’s what moto-apparel is for.
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.