When you live in the same place for a long time, it can warp your view of the rest of the country. You imagine that it is all the same and that if you want to experience something truly exotic, you need to head overseas.
But that’s not actually true. It turns out that America is a land of profound beauty and unique geographical features. And thanks to its enormous size, there’s something for practically everyone.
Motorcycling across the US allows you to travel light and experience the freedom of the open road. So long as you can travel light, it is a great opportunity to escape the humdrum and see some of the more unusual aspects of the country.
In this post, we take a look at some motorcycle trips that almost seem as though they were created for two-wheeled travel. Let’s take a look.
Washington DC isn’t the first place you think of when considering touring the US by motorcycle. It has a reputation for being a bit of a dull city outside of the Capitol area. However, this urban jungle is best done on bikes because of the enormous volumes of traffic. While everyone else is queuing at stop signs, you’re able to weave in and out and get to where you want to go.
Washington’s hotels can be a little boring in the center. However, if you head out to the rural parts of town, there are some quirky B&Bs who cater to local people, not foreign dignitaries. As you head out of DC, you can visit surrounding towns, such as Annapolis, Maryland, and view some of the oldest architecture in the country.
Texas has always been a great riding destination, but the roads around the city of Ausin, Texas, take this up a notch. Austin is at the center of the Hundred Miles Loop which takes you through some of the rugged and rural terrain of the Lone Star State. You can also head on over to the Twisted Sisters and enjoy some switchbacks and beautiful views in Austin’s hilly backcountry. As you make your way around, you’ll periodically come across cafés, diners and sometimes taverns by the roadside to refresh yourself.
If you can, go to Austin in the spring. This time of year is popular for sporting events, such as MotoGP. You can also visit in the Autumn for the Formula One Grand Prix. Just remember to book tickets in advance.
Monument Valley, Utah
If you love westerns, the Monument Valley region, which spans Utah and Arizona, is the place to go. This stunning landscape features the same buttes used in many of the movies – columns of rock perched precariously on top of large stone escarpments.
Perhaps the best place to go is the 17-mile Valley Drive loop. This road will take you past the most iconic buttes and then return you back to where you started.
If you plan on staying in the area, there are plenty of hotels from which to choose. The View Hotel is a popular watering hole and stop off point for bikers, though there are many others.
If you explore the area a little further, you’ll encounter some famous geological formations, such as the Cedar Mesa and the Valley of the Gods. You’ll also encounter a large number of hiking trails – great if you fancy a break from sitting in the saddle.
The Grand Canyon, Arizona
Close by is the Grand Canyon, offering an even more epic experience. Just be warned – the area around the Canyon can become extremely busy due to tourism, so if you want to escape all of that, head on over to the North Rim. Here, you’ll find large chasms but quieter roads, with plenty of places to stop off and enjoy the views along the way. Just be sure to walk on the permitted trails. Straying is dangerous and could damage the canyon walls.
If you plan to stay the night in the Grand Canyon, choose accommodation on the North Rim. Always book a long time in advance, since bookings are liable to fill up quickly.
Million Dollar Highway, Colorado
The Million Dollar Highway – also known as Route 550 – is one of the most impressive roads in the country. It runs for around 233 miles with some parts reaching as high as 10,000 feet. The most impressive sections head high into the mountains, providing you with incredible vistas to enjoy.
Unfortunately, the risk of motorcycle accident injuries is high because of steep drop-offs on many road sections, so be careful. Some parts of the route do not have crash barriers.
Denali Highway, Alaska
If you want to head north outside of the contiguous US (and get away from all the crowds), Alaska is the place to do it. Route 8 is perhaps the most scenic, linking the Richardson and Parks Highway. However, if you’re not comfortable with potholes and difficult terrain, you should pick another route. The first few miles of the road have smooth asphalt but it is downhill from there on out.
Weather here can get a little tricky, particularly during winter, so only travel in the warmer, lighter months. Also, watch out for wildlife. Herds of grazing animals will often congregate and feed at the side of the road.
San Diego, California
Those who like sunshine and warm weather year-round should head over to San Diego to enjoy some of the minor routes that make their way through the area’s stunning backcountry. Single-lane roads running through the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park offer a unique riding experience, taking you though areas that look a bit like Tuscany in Italy, with giant mountains surrounding in all directions.
Being a large city, San Diego itself is the ideal place to find food, drink and accommodation after a long journey in the saddle. It also connects to surrounding places of interest, such as the iconic Tijuana and bucolic town of Julian.
Ashville, North Carolina
Heading across the country again, you might want to check out Ashville and the surrounding area. The city itself offers a quaint atmosphere but, more importantly, it is close to the 500-mile Blue Ridge Parkway which provides access to some of the best driving routes in the country.
The accommodation here is a little more costly than in most parts of the country. However, if you have the budget for it, then it provides a great base for exploring the surrounding area. Many people stay on the Biltmore Estate’s 8,000-acre grounds.
When you take a break from riding, be sure to check out the River Arts District. Here you will find local artists displaying their work. If you want to buy anything, you can ask them to deliver it to your home address.
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is the jewel of the south and a must-visit city for anyone who loves good food. What makes it so special? Just the sheer variety of places to eat and the beauty of the city itself. New Orleans offers plenty of interesting urban driving and is a great place for any biker who enjoys jazz experiences and going to 24-hour drive-thrus.
The Black Hills, South Dakota
The Dakotas are a paradise for any biker who just wants to get away from it all. These states are among the least populated and visited in the mainland US, but they offer some impressive attractions, including Mt. Rushmore, located in the Black Hills.
Most bikers start their journey on Highway 87 and then head into the state’s most beautiful areas, including the Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park. Here they pick up the trail to Mt. Rushmore and then continue on to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
If you want to experience more of nature (instead of just cruising along the highway), head on over to Prairie Dog Town. It’s a little off the beaten track, but it does provide some amazing opportunities to see animals in their natural habitat.
The Florida Keys, Florida
The Florida Keys offer some of the most unusual riding in the Americas. Thanks to massive infrastructure projects, the islands in the chain are now connected by long bridges perched above the sea.
To access the Keys, pick up highway 1 and then head from the mainland in the direction of Key West. As you travel, you will ride through many islands, most of which offer stunning beaches and cafés for grabbing snacks. The highlight of the route is the ever-impressive Overseas Highway Section which cuts the Gulf Waters in two and provides some beautiful views of the greeny-blue ocean floor.
Lastly, if you want to visit one of the US’s most geologically active regions, head on over to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Here, you’ll find the park’s famous Fountain Pots, Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful – perhaps the most famous geyser in the world.
Generally, people do Yellowstone over the course of a couple of days. Speed limits in the park of 45 mph limit the amount of distance that you can cover.