The Best Motorcycle Roads in America

Blue Ridge Parkway, Linn Cove Viaduct - Milepost 304
Linn Cove Viaduct - Milepost 304 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service
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Best Motorcycle Roads in America, #15: Washington Rte. 129 & Oregon Rte. 3

Washington Rte. 129 and Oregon Rte. 3
be-nn-y/Flickr

Looking for the greatest motorcycle roads in America? American Motorcyclist took votes on their 230,000 member website and came up with this list of the best places to ride in the U.S.

See how many you've ridden in this list (in ascending order of greatness), and share your personal picks on the best roads in America!

#15: Washington Route 129 and Oregon Route 3, Clarkston, WA to Enterprise, OR

The Pacific Northwest is notorious for its stellar riding roads, and the 85 mile stretch from Clarkston, Washington to Enterprise, Oregon features a little bit of everything: sharp switchbacks on the Anatone Grade, scenic straightaways, and twisting canyons.

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#14: Ohio Route 170, Calcutta to Poland

Ohio State Route 170
( CC BY-SA 2.0) by Dougtone

Ohio isn't exactly known for its compelling roads, and some Ohioans say that Route 170 connecting Calcutta to Poland isn't even the state's best, due to traffic and a lack of twists and turns. That didn't stop it from making number 14 on the AMA's list, suggesting that it might be worthwhile if you're in the area.

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#13: California Route 58, McKittrick to Santa Margarita

California Route 58
Photo © Basem Wasef

This 71-mile stretch of twisting two-lane tarmac cuts through Central California's wheat-colored hills, offering a winding rollercoaster of a ride for the legions of motorcyclists who ride from Los Angeles to Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway for the MotoGP races.

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#12: U.S. Route 33, Harrisonburg, Virginia to Seneca Rocks, West Virginia

US Route 33 - Virginia
CC BY-SA 2.0) by Dougtone

Not to be confused with California's Route 33 which snakes through Ojai, this 65-mile stretch of highway runs through the Shenandoah Valley between Virginia and West Virginia, offering beautiful mountain passes and challenging turns.

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#11: Natchez Trace Parkway, from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee

The Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge, viewed from the north
The Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge, viewed from the north. By Author: Brent Moore - Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brent_nashville/144460855/, CC BY 2.0, Link

This epic 444-mile, two-lane road runs from Mississippi, through the edge of Alabama, and into Tennessee. Considered a National Scenic Byway for its cultural, historic, and visually appealing qualities, the Natchez Trace Parkway is one of the longest stretches of great road that can be appreciated from a motorcycle.

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#10: Angeles Crest Highway, California Route 2

Best Motorcycle Roads
Angeles Crest Highway. Photo © David McNew

A favorite among two-wheeled city dwellers for its proximity to Los Angeles, Angeles Crest Highway slices through the scenic Angeles National Forest and connects La Cañada, Flintridge to the ski town of Wrightwood with large scale sweepers and gradual elevation changes.

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#9: U.S. Route 12, Lolo Pass, Idaho and Montana

U.S. Route 12
Photo © Comstock

This 5,233-foot mountain pass 40 miles outside of Missoula, Montana at the juncture of Idaho and Montana features striking views of rivers, rolling forests, and a historical background that goes back to the era of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

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#8: California Route 36

Lassen Volcanic National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park. Photo © Nancy Nehring

Considered by some to be among the best roads in California, California Route 36 links Interstates 5 and 101 between Red Bluff and Hydesville with a long, flowing series of twisties that are seemingly tailor-made for motorcycles. And if that's not enough, you can even follow it east of I5 to Lassen Volcanic National Park, seen here.

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#7: Cherohala Skyway, North Carolina and Tennessee

The Cherohala Skyway.
Photo © Adam Jones

Named after two National Forests-- the CHEROkee and the NantaHALA, the Cherohala Skyway starts in Robbinsville and rambles through North Carolina's mountainous regions, spilling into Tennessee's forested regions before ending at Tellico Plains, TN. Clouds and fog are known to roll in even in summer months due to the road's high elevations (especially on the North Carolina side), but riders swear by the Cherohala Skyway's inspiring scenery.

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#6: Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park, Montana

Going-to-the-Sun Road
Posnov / Getty Images

Going-to-the-Sun Road is the only way to cut through the stunningly beautiful Glacier National Park, and its tight switchbacks and high elevations make it particularly treacherous during winter months. Featured in the opening sequence of the film ​The Shining, few stretches offer this one's epic scale and dramatic views.

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#5: California Route 1, Pacific Coast Highway

Motorcycle crossing the Bixby Bridge, Big Sur, California, USA
Motorcycle crossing the Bixby Bridge, Pacific Coast Highway, Big Sur. Pgiam / Getty Images

Pacific Coast Highway (or PCH) runs from Southern California's Orange County to Northern California's Mendocino County, but its most famous stretch is the Big Sur section between San Simeon and Carmel. Though clogged with slow-moving rental cars during peak hours, this coastline-hugging highway is one of the most scenically beautifully rides in the world, let alone the U.S.

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#4: Route 550, "The Million Dollar Highway" from Ouray to Durango, CO

U.S. Route 550, aka "The Million Dollar Highway."
Photo © Joe Sohm

You'll want to skip this one if you're afraid of heights: U.S. Route 550 serves up staggering views of towering mountains and precipitous canyons, many of which aren't interrupted by guardrails. This Colorado highway attracts plenty of motorcyclists, especially cruisers.

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#3: U.S. Route 129, aka "The Tail of the Dragon"

Deal's Gap-- aka, Tail of the Dragon
Photo © Basem Wasef

Despite chronic overcrowding and recurring law enforcement crackdowns, Tail of the Dragon remains among the most famous of motorcycle roads for good reason: though only 11 miles long, its 318 tight turns offer seemingly endless entertainment for all matter of motorcyclists, from sportbike riders to touring enthusiasts.

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#2: Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

Blue Ridge Parkway, Linn Cove Viaduct - Milepost 304
Linn Cove Viaduct - Milepost 304 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service

For sheer scale and variety of scenery, it's hard to beat the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway. Extending in Virginia and North Carolina mostly through the majestic Blue Ridge mountains, this is the most visited attraction in the U.S. National Park System thanks to its meandering path that traverses some of the most arresting breathtaking views in the country. Those in a hurry, however, should take caution: the speed limit never exceeds 45 mph and is lower in many spots.

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#1: Beartooth Highway, Montana and Wyoming

Beartooth Highway
Carol Polich Photo Workshops / Getty Images

U.S. Highway 212-- aka, the Beartooth Highway-- connects Red Lodge and Cooke City, Montana, and its nearly 11,000-foot peak can make it (pardon the pun) a bear to cross when the weather gets snowy. But this zigzagging route cuts through the Custer National Forest and Shoshone National Forest, offering some of the most eye-opening vistas on the planet. Perhaps the best part of Beartooth Highway is that when you're done riding its challenging roads, it will lead you right to the northeast gateway of Yellowstone National Park. But remember to stay warm when you ride here: it can get seriously cold in these parts.