The desire to venture out and explore the open road is strong amongst motorcyclists. Exploration equals freedom, and freedom is synonymous with motorcycles. But where to go? Anywhere you want, really. But if you’d like just a little more direction, here we’ve gathered 10 great riding roads in North America you’ve got to try sometime. Be it alone or with some of your riding buddies, these roads are sure to leave lasting memories you (and your friends) will look back on years later and enjoy. Some of these roads you’ve probably heard about before, while others will hopefully be new ones. Others still are out there, waiting to be discovered. Here now, in no particular order, are 10 great roads in North America you’ve gotta ride.
10. Blue Ridge Parkway (USA)
No list about great motorcycle roads in North America would be complete without mentioning the Blue Ridge Parkway, so let’s go ahead and lead off with it. Wikipedia tells us the BRP is the largest linear park in the United States, spanning 469 miles through 29 Virginia and North Carolina counties. Needless to say, the roads are curvy and the scenery is gorgeous. But watch out for the local constabulary – the speed limit is an artificially low 45 mph and the fines for exceeding it are artificially high. Fall is usually the best time to go. Check out the Blue Ridge Parkway website for more details.
9. Temiskaming Loop
This list could easily be filled with roads just in Canada, but alas, that list will have to wait for another time. However, one road up north that you should plan some time for is the Temiskaming Loop. Start in Lake Temiskaming then find your way through Ontario and Quebec. Along the way you’ll encounter a wide and varying swath of mother nature that will surely delight the senses. Spanning about 250 miles, the route could be done in a day, but then you’ll be missing out on plenty of attractions along the way like the stunning Devil’s Rock. Take a few days to soak everything in and you’ll enjoy the experience much more. This Google map of the route should help you plan, along with this write-up from Mike Jacobs we posted back in 2013.
8. Mexico Federal Highway 1
From the Temiskaming Loop in Canada we head south to the Mexico Federal Highway 1. This road spans the entire length of Mexico, from Tijuana in the north to Cabo San Lucas at the southern end – 1,063 miles in all. In fact, the road continues north past the U.S. border, where it’s then called Interstate 5, or as the locals would say, “The 5.” While not a particularly curvy road (though there are a couple sections with a nice twist or two), the Transpeninsular Highway, as it’s more commonly known, is special for its vast array of scenery. Ocean views, vast desert, high mountains – all are available on this ride. Mix in the friendly locals, delicious food, and of course, Cabo San Lucas, and Mexico’s Highway 1 has a lot to offer.
7. Pacific Coast Highway
We can’t talk about Mexico’s Highway 1 without mentioning California’s Highway 1. The Pacific Coast Highway is a favorite amongst the MO staff, and many others, for its sheer beauty. Well, especially the bit between Monterey and Cambria. There, you’ll find some tremendous riding roads. Slow the pace down and you can have an equally nice time simply enjoying the views of the Pacific Ocean to the west. If you want the best experience, avoid coming during the summer, as vacationers tend to clog the road. PCH stretches far further in both directions, but there’s a reason why you don’t see postcards from those areas. Bixby Bridge, seen above, falls within that stretch from Monterey to San Luis Obispo, and is just one of several scenic stops along the way.
6. Icefields Parkway
When you look at the picture above, do you really need more reason to visit the Icefields Parkway? Technically known as Alberta Highway 93, the Icefields Parkway stretches 144 miles through the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Not many other destinations will give you such a stunning view of gorgeous mountain lakes, glaciers, and valleys. Nor will many other routes take you through not one, but two, national parks (Banff and Jasper). It’s not a particularly long ride, but the scenery is too nice not to stop several times.
5. Lake Superior
Motorcycle.com contributor Dustin A. Woods loves riding the roads surrounding Lake Superior so much he wrote about it not once, but twice(!) for us. With such strong affection for the area, we had to include it in this list. But what makes the Lake Superior Circle Tour so endearing? Simply the variety of things to see and do along each leg of the trip. Whether you’re on the U.S. side or dip into Canadian territory in Ontario, riding around Lake Superior offers breathtaking views along with wonderful roads suitable for a sport-tourer or a full dresser. There’s not much more we can say about the route(s) that hasn’t already been covered by Dustin, so check out both his stories for itinerary ideas. Better yet, take a look at this interactive tour guide to help plan your Lake Superior adventure.
4. Copper Canyon
We’re back in Mexico for the number four spot, a ride through Copper Canyon. Said to be deeper than the Grand Canyon and filled with terrain perfect for an adventure or dual-sport bike, this is one road you definitely don’t want to take your full dresser or sport-tourer. If you want the full Copper Canyon experience, MotoDiscovery, is a tour company that’ll guide you on a nine-day, 1,450-mile round trip from El Paso, Texas to Batopilas, Chihuahua.
3. Colorado State Highway 149
Colorado State Highway 149 is only 117.5 miles long, which is rather short for the roads on this list, stretching from South Fork on the southern end, to Gunnison on the northern end. In between you’ll find tons of twists and turns. Of course, building a road into a mountain means you’ll also get elevation changes as well. Beyond the twists and turns, Colorado roads are also known for their scenery, and Highway 149 is no different. Mountain views are met with stunning images of rock walls and river banks. Unlike some of the others on this list, there’s not much to do along the route. So unless you feel like stopping for a selfie or a pee break, this is one road you and your friends will enjoy simply by riding on it.
2. La Ruta
If Copper Canyon is a primer for adventure riding in Mexico, then La Ruta (The Route) is the main event. MotoDiscovery, the same folks who tour through Copper Canyon, also have an organized ride through La Ruta that encompasses 11 days and 1,550 miles, starting in Douglas, Arizona and ending in Tecate, California. Throughout the journey you’ll delve deep into the Mexican Sierra Madres, climbing in elevation 7,000 feet. Other highlights include water crossings through the Sea of Cortez and a romp through the Baja Peninsula. Not to mention you’re likely to encounter local indian tribes whose lineage dates back centuries. An adventure and cultural experience all in one? Get your buddies and give it a go.
1. Cherohala Skyway
There’s much ballyhoo surrounding the infamous Tail of the Dragon that flip-flops between North Carolina and Tennessee, and while the 11-mile stretch of road is well known for its 300-odd turns, the locals will tell you there are much better, less-trafficked roads nearby. The Cherohala Skyway is one of them. Cherohala itself is 43 miles long with several corners to satisfy the knee draggers, but the beauty here is the ability to connect to the Tail of the Dragon to create an even longer loop, as you can see in the map above. Be mindful of the local constabulary and ambitious squids riding over their heads, and you’ll have a great time.