So you want to take an epic Motorcycle road trip? Your not alone Motorcycle Road trips, are a growing trend. At Town and Tourist, we have received many requests from people asking about the most epic Motorcycle road trips across the U.S.A.
I myself am an avid Motorcycle rider and have crossed the U.S 6 times using a variety of different routes. Believe me each time I’ve ridden across the U.S, I have had a completely different experience.
As there are so many way you can “cut it” with a Motorcycle road trip, Coast to Coast, North to South. Many riders tend to take short trips on weekends and hit 1 or 2 good roads in that time, this is fine and I enjoy that myself.
However, if you wan’t a real epic challenge and wan’t to take on 5-10 or even 20 of the best roads in the U.S.A. Then the best motorcycle roadtrip you can do is Coast to Coast! Expect scene routes, exhilarating roads and a truly epic adventure!
However, the romance is not without it’s challenges, a long marathon style road trip of around 4000 Miles of Motorcycle riding can be physically and Mentally challenging. From my many Motorcycle tours, I recommended the more time you can give yourself to accomplish a coast to coast the better.
Don’t over estimate how many miles you think you can do in a day because it may cause you to strain and won’t be as enjoyable as a result.
The truth is, I discovered that you need a realistic schedule when doing a long motorcycle road trip. Penciling in Rest days, places to see sights and spend time of the bike is a must! A schedule for a full coast to coast trip giving you a minimum of three weeks, I found is a nice amount of time, to really get the most out of the trip and explore many sights along the way!
However, that’s just me, I have friends who have toured coast to coast rapidly without a problem, so it all depends upon you and how much you wish to see along the way.
The first time, I decided to take a long Motorcycle roadtrip or tour it was from the South to the North, leaving on my Harley from the west of Mississippi. I took the I-40 and it was really fascinating ride as you head to New Mexico, Santa Fe and Los Alamos, they are all great places steeped with history.
Afterwards you pass Petrified Forest and Meteor Crater before reaching Flagstaff and onto Grand Canyon National Park. While at the Grand Canyon I took a hot air balloon ride over it, which was a nice break from the Motorbike. Check out this great article to learn more 5 Golden Reasons why taking a Balloon Ride over the Grand Canyon should be on your Bucket list.
However, that trip was a vacation compared to the Coast to Coast Motorcycle road trip. It is challenging…but is it worth it? Absolutely! You will learn so much about the U.S, yourself and your Motorcycle!
You will experience some great thrills, see some scenic sights and have stories and memories, which you can tell the Grandkids about. Most of it’s an adventure of Epic Proportions!
So hop on your Motorcycle, rev that engine and let me show you the plan, for your ultimate Motorcycle road trip.
Riding Coast to Coast in the most Epic way!
We believe riding coast to coast on a Motorcycle road trip is a best achieved by linking together as many of the most epic, thrilling and scenic roads across the U.S. states. In addition, to linking in your favourite places to stop off!
However, depending on your starting point and timeline only some of these may be achievable.
After my Motorcycle road trip across the U.S, I have put together a series of questions you should ask yourself to help you plan it effectively and get the most out of your road trip!
Planning your Perfect Motorcycle Road Trip
15 Questions to help you plan a road trip?
- Time of Year? (Summer or Winter)
- Riding Experience?
- Your Motorcycle, Quality, Reliability, tires etc.
- Own Motorcycle or Rental? For Bike hire check out these great guys. BikesBooking.com
- How many people will be going? Solo ride or group tour.
- How much time can you have on the road?
- Do you have any commitments, which may restrict your time?
- Which accommodation would you like to stay in motels, hotels?
- How many scenic detours would you like?
- Which places would you love to stop off at?
- How many Stop of’s can you have?
- Which type of roads do you wan’t to include? Thrilling high speed roads with lots of twists, long straights or more relaxing scenic roads.
- Starting and Ending Point. (Coast to Coast), (North to south)
- Are you physically prepared for a Motorcycle Road Trip?
- Are you Mentally Prepared for the Challenge? (If taking a Coast to Coast Route)
Which coast should I start my road trip?
Generally, with a Motorcycle Road trip I have found that America opens up as you head from East to West, and its nicer to end your trip on Pacific Coast highway. In the sunshine with plenty of places to relax on the beach and good transport links home from LA or San Francisco.
If you head from East to West it can feel a little more congested as you carry on your Motorcycle road trip.
Ultimate Motorcycle Road Trip – Coast to Coast
Virginia to California
This great Motorcycle road trip is a coast to coast masterpiece as it includes a mix of the most highly regarded motorcycle routes out there!
Leg 1: Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia – Deals Gap, North Carolina –
Leg 1 Length – 770 Miles.
We start your epic Motorcycle road trip by heading from Front Royal, Virginia to Deal’s Gap, North Carolina, via the Appalachian Mountains!
This is four scenic mountain rides, combined together to start your Motorcycle Road trip in style!
A. Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway
Start with Skyline Drive in Virginia, a 105-mile run along the edge of the Shenandoah National Park.
Then head onto Blue Ridge Parkway which is the longest linear park in the U.S around 469-miles in length through 29 Virginia and North Carolina counties.
Expect smooth roads, sweeping curves and exquisite natural beauty as a backdrop!
It is advised to spend at least two days to enjoy every part of this ride, and truly get the most out of your Ultimate Motorcycle Road trip.
Top Tip: There are no gas stations on the actual parkway, but just outside you can find some.
B. Deals Gap and the thrilling Tail of the Dragon.
Ride eastward to Tellico Plains along the Cherohala Skyway (Hwy 28) heading into Tennessee backcountry.
Then Loop back via Hwys 360 and 72 to Deal’s Gap, and tackle the infamous and thrilling Tail of the Dragon, which is 11 Miles of 318 curves!
The hairpin turns at Tail of the dragon make it a thrilling part of your motorcycle road trip. Tail of the Dragon is internationally renowned as one of America’s No1 Motorcycle Roads!
With a stunning backdrop of the Cherokee National Forest and Great Smokey Mountains this is surely one epic place to ride no matter what season!
Located at the intersection of US 129 and NC 28.
Blue Ridge Parkway – Deals Gap, Map.
Leg 2: Natchez Trace Parkway – [Tennessee – Alabama – Mississippi]
Natchez Trace Parkway is a legendary route and stretches 444 miles between Natchez, Mississippi and Nashville, Tennessee.
On this section of your ultimate motorcycle road trip, expect breathtaking quaint scenery of rural farmland and an abundance of wildlife!
This is great for motorcyclists as commercial traffic is prohibited so generally the traffic is quiet apart from as you head towards Tupelo and Jackson.
Natchez Trace Parkway – Map:
Leg 3: Pig Trail Scenic Byway – Arkansas to Missouri
According to USA today, in their readers poll for best Motorcycle route Pig Trail Scenic Byway was voted No1. I can understand why, with the gorgeous natural beauty of overhanging trees as you sweep through this is truly a majestic stretch.
Try to plan your motorcycle road trip to end up here during the spring or fall, where it’s a prime spot to see flowers blooming and foliage fall.
While the entire length of AR 23 is often referred to as the Pig Trail, it’s actually the 24-mile stretch from I-40 to Brashears , at the junction of AR 16, where the route is formed. From the Arkansas-Missouri border to US 71.
Fun Fact: How did Pig Trail Scenic Byway get its name?
There are multiple competing theories on this, one is that the road twists as much as the tail of a wild hog. The other is that this part of AR 23 was a popular back-road route into Fayetteville for University of Arkansas Razorback football games, thus Pig Trail.
The other explanation is simply that the road is as twisty as the tail of a wild hog…either way it’s a great addition to your motorcycle road trip.
Pig trail Scenic Byway – Road Trip Map.
Leg 4a : San Juan Skyway – [Arkansas to Colorado]
– Shorter Route.
The rocky mountains are a terrific place to ride as you ascend the views get sweeter and the air gets crisper! My favourite spots are San Juan Skyway and Peak to Peak Highway. This rocky mountains are the perfect place for leg 4 of your motorcycle road trip.
San Juan Skyway – Colorado
The San Juan Skyway is a 236 mile loop through the San Juan Mountains in southwest Colorado. One of the sweetest and most breath taking routes in the Colorado Mountains you won’t be disappointed!
However, be careful when riding due regularly gradient changes and shear drop offs as the guard rails disappear at some points! The “Million Dollar Highway” , a 12 mile section and well regarded as the most scenic part of this road between Ouray & Silverton.
Popular towns along the route include Cortez, Telluride, Durango, Silverton, Ouray. With great scenic spots such as Mesa Verde National Park, Anasazi Heritage Center and a variety of special wilderness areas! Fall, is the best time to travel hear when the aspens are at their peak! Check road conditions and weather before hand if traveling in the winter.
Fun Fact: The average driving time without stopping is 7 Hours (At the speed limit) 😉
Map of San Juan Skyway:
Option to Head further up and check out the Peak to Peak Highway:
Peak to Peak Highway – Colorado
This is Colorado’s first scenic byway, established in 1918 it is a truly exceptional 55 mile route and a priority if your wising to head to the Rocky Mountain National Park and the Front Range.
Front range includes some great mountain towns including the charming Estes Park, quaint Nederland, Black Hawk and Central City (previous mining towns revamped into casino destinations, an old nickname for this area was “the richest square mile on earth”).
The peak to peak highway starts as Colo. 7 in Estes Park brings you past the small town of Allenspark on Colo. 72, then heads to Nederland.
There, it goes south on Colo. 119 through Blackhawk, into Clear Creek Canyon and ends at Interstate 70. Other Popular sights to see along the way are the Golden Gate Canyon State Park, Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests.
Top Tip: Around two hours is a pretty good amount of drive time for this route.
Top Tip: Try to plan your motorcycle road trip so you can take a ride here in the Fall, when leaves turn golden on the aspen trees.
Ultimate Motorcycle road trip – Leg4a (Pikes Peak Highway)
Leg 4b: Arkansas to Texas (Three Sisters) – Longer Route.
River Road, (FM 170) – 120 miles from Terlingua to Candelaria, Big Bend, Texas
Farm to Market road 170 or sometimes called “The River Road” because it follows the Rio Grande. This is a 120 smooth stretch which starts in the town of Candelaria, (a ghost town!) and heads along the Texas border.
The highlight is the Motorcycle ride through Big Bend’s Chihuahuan Desert ecosystem equip mountains, canyons, badlands, and stunted forests.
This is will be one of the most memorable and theatrical parts of your ultimate motorcycle road trip.
Top Tip: The Contraband Movie Set is an interesting sight to see at Closed Canyon as is another ghost town called Terlingua.
The Three Sisters (aka The Twisted Sisters), Texas
The Texas Hill Country Ranch Roads 335, 336, and 337, widely known throughout Texas as the Twisted Sisters or The Three Sisters. This 100-mile loop is one of the most fantastic and challenging motorcycle roads in Texas, with many tight twisting curves, making it a thrilling experience.
The first Twisted Girl is on Ranch Road 337, which starts at the north edge of Medina. Following it west, you will see many gorgeous ranches, and even one with its own landing strip!
As you enter the first twisting turns, the first reminder of the dangerousness of this route is clear to see with a highway signs stating, “WARNING Next 12 Miles, Since Jan. 2006, 10 Killed in Motorcycle Related Crashes.”…this sharpens you up and is a helpful reminder on your Motorcycle Road trip.
Around 20 miles in, you will come to a T section at the town of Vanderpoole. Right on Highway 187 for a mile brings us back to 337 again, and we turn left and then head for Leakey and the next Sister, which lies on Ranch Road 336.
Sister 337 twists alot more on this leg, heading over a hill, with lots of fast swerves, before descending into the Little Dry Frio Creek Valley.
Continuing straight through Leakey on 337 for around half a mile. Then you will arrive at the Frio Canyon Motorcycle Stop and the Bent Rim Grill, a nice place to stop, grab a some lunch and pat yourself on the back for accomplishing the deadly threesome of sisters!
This is a heart racing section of your motorcycle road trip and a nice part to really let loose on your thrilling twists.
Top Tip: Want some education on your Motorcycle Road Trip? Visit Lone Star Motorcycle Museum. To get there, you would have had to keep going straight on highway 187 for around three miles.
Location of Three Sisters Texas:
Ranch Rd 335, Rocksprings, TX 78880, USA
The Texas Twisted Sisters NW Corner
Leg 5: Colorado to Utah – [Grand Staircase Escalante Road]
Head to the Grand Staircase Escalante route.
The Grand Staircase-Escalante is another motorcycle route which is considered one of the best in the U.S.A. With absolutely stunning views of Red Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.
The actual Staircase is a multicolored masterpiece of cliffs, plateaus and canyons! A few miles of straights on either side of Escalante leave the rest of the road to sweep and twist over the landscape.
To get there start in Panguitch, Utah and head south on US-89, then in 10 miles take the turn towards Bryce Canyon on Rte 12. Then head east on Rte 12 all the way Torrey, UT which is over 100 miles.
Red canyon, Bryce canyon, Hell’s Backbone, Calf Creek and Boulder Mountain are just some highlights which give you a flavour of every type of scenery Utah has to offer, from red rock to slick rock to pine and aspen covered mountains.
While driving these roads on the Ultimate motorcycle road trip, I felt like mad max!
Top Tip: If your an avid photographer then this is your perfect spot, to whip out the tripods and lenses.
To capture the colorful cliffs and other highlights such as Dixie National Forrest.
Overall, The 124-miles stretch on highway 12, provides breath taking scenery and gorgeous roads especially around Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks and the Petrified Forest State Park!
There are a few small towns enrolee to fill up the tank and Ruby’s Inn is a popular lunch spot, around red canyon.
Road Trip Map from Sky Juan Highway, Colorado.
Leg 6: Pacific Coast Highway (California)
Head to North California and then hop on the Pacific Coast Highway! We have possibly saved the best till last, and believe me it was worth the 4000 miles, to finally get to this spectacular west coast route!
Californias State 1 route or pacific coast highway is a 655 mile long masterpiece of scenic beauty and wonder!
The route starts from Dana Point in Orange County, through San Diego, past LA, Malibu, Montery Bay and up to Mendocino County in the north San Francisco.
This is a gigantic stretch of heaven for bikers and has the most amazing places to stop of enroute! With that crisp sea air and sun shining this is a magical route like no other.
Pacific Coast Highway – Stops and Cities.
1. San Diego
Head up to the Cabrillo National Monument at the tip of Point Loma and you’ll get stunning view of San Diego and the Bay.
2. Long Beach
As you head from San Diego ride over the snaking Coronado Bridge for a couple of miles. Then make your way to Dana Point, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, the coast around the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is a thrilling ride!
3. Los Angeles
Head into the city if you’d like for a stop of before making the epic route up the pacific coast highway.
Bikini clad Malibu is 15 miles of stunning beaches and the open road heading toward Ventura. Follow the signs to Point Dume and you’ll find a beautiful sandy beach, headlands, cliffs and rocky coves.
Heading around Malibu you will be sure to spot many gorgeous homes of Hollywood stars, especially around Topanga Canyons.
Keep on Route 27 and you’ll come across cool stores, diners along the roadside. Park up the bike at the top for an awesome view over the San Fernando Valley at the top of Topanga Overlook.
If you would like to stop and do some surfing head down to Ventura Beach, or check out the historic downtown Ventura, full of many vintage shops and stores. Great to by a souvenir, from your trip other than tire marks!
6. Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara is another cool stop to check out. Ride along the coast line of the Pacific Coast Highway and you’ll seeEast Beach and Stearns Wharf . Santa Barbara Zoo and Botanic Garden are also nice spots to check out.
7. Big Sur
Big Sur is an artistic town with great sights from Pfeiffer Beach, McWay Falls, Point Sur State Historic Park, Ragged Point. It is so gorgeous you will wan’t to stop of at every point! But hey you deserve it after such a long ride!
Hot Spring baths are popular here for there healing property so if you do fancy spending a night or two to relax this is the place.
As you head out you will get a chance to travel along Bixby Bridge which is one of the tallest single span concrete bridges in the world it’s 714 feet long and 280 feet high. This is a great photography opportunity on your Motorcycle road trip, to really wow everyone back home!
A relaxed downhill drive takes you to Monterey from Big Sur. This aquatic little place has a scenic “17 mile drive” , seaside shops, restaurants. If you have energy after all that Motorcycle riding why not try some sailing or kayaking as a break! This makes a nice little place to stop of on your Motorcycle road trip.
9. Santa Cruz
If your a 60s child head to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for a flavour of that old-school Americana vibe. Pacific avenue is great spot to pick up some vintage jewels.
If your feeling hungry, head down the Wharf for great restaurant and activities such whale watching! As you head towards San Francisco along the Pacific coast highway you will pass the jaw dropping half moon bay!
Definitely a place to pull up the bike and take a theatrical picture from the cliff.
10. San Jose
This is a great stop along the pacific coast highway, check out the famous and intriguing, Winchester Mystery House which is packed with many wacky features including dead end hallways, staircases that run up to the ceiling and 165 rooms.
The late Sarah Winchester built the place at a cost of over $20m, as her Medium instructed.If your a techie, head down to the iconic Silicon Valley, home of giants such as Facebook, Google, and the famous Hewlett Packard Garage from where it all began.
Other highlights here include the largest open air market in the USA and downtown San Jose in evening.
11. San Francisco
The Golden Gate bridge is truly iconic way to end your Epic Motorcycle Road trip from coast to coast! Other highlights while in San Francisco include, Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz Island and plenty of other attractions!
Coast to Coast Motorcycle Road trip – Other Starting Places?
A. Michigan (Tunnel of Trees Road)
Tunnel of Trees Road – Michigan. (North East to South West)
M-119’s Tunnel of Trees is a 16-mile forest route in Michigan that begins in Harbor Springs and ends in Cross Village.
As the name suggest, the road is surrounded by theatrical foliage. A stunning ride in the fall, as the golden colors look magnetising as your sweep through!
B. Route 66: Chicago to Santa Monica
Length of Road: 2400 miles
An Iconic classic and piece of American History, so we had to include it on our Ultimate Motorcycle Road Trip.
Route 66 began in Chicago, IL, and ended in Los Angeles, California. Its original length was about 2,400 miles (3,862 kilometers).
The highway snaked through eight states , Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and finally California. Since the highway was decommissioned, Route 66 no longer exists on modern maps.
In some places, in fact, the physical road is unpaved and virtually impassable. According to the National Scenic Byways Route 66 today goes through four states Illinois, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona.
At around 1,410 miles (2,269 kilometers) in length, it takes about five or six days to drive Historic Route 66 from one end to the other.
Route 66 is showcase of True Americana. With the longest drivable section of Route 66 is in Arizona, where you can lay your eyes on the wondrous Grand Canyon and Sedona’s red rocks.
If you really wan’t to tackle the Historic Route 66, your best bet is to purchase the special maps which shows you the safest route and cool sights along the way. As unfortunately, the Iconic “Route66” signs dotted along the way are not always reliable.
C. Boston to San Francisco Road Trip
Start in Boston. Head down through New York State, over to Chicago, the Black Hills of South Dakota, Salt Lake City, finish in San Francisco
D. Minnesota to Florida Road Trip (North to South)
Leg 1: The Great River Road (Hwy 61) from Minnesota – Louisiana
The Great River Road (HWY 61) stretches for over 2600 miles from Itasca State Park, Minnesota to Jackson, Louisiana. GRR 61 is a single route created in 1938 to highlight the 10 states bordering the great Mississippi River from its headwaters in Minnesota to its termination in Louisiana’s Cajun Country.
Avid Riders flock from all states to “their” section of the road. Here you will be sure find everything from lush Forrests to mighty limestone cliffs. A scenic favourite for your Ultimate Motorcycle road trip.
Leg 2: Louisiana to Florida – (HWY 1)
Head down to Overseas Highway (Hwy 1), in Florida for a narrow route of 100 miles stretching from Key Largo to Key West. This is a tropical bikers paradise as your head up across this gorgeous route build a top of sections of living reef and the turquoise Straits of Florida.
The Seven Mile Bridge is an iconic bridge in the Florida Keys, in Monroe County. It connects Knight’s Key (part of the city of Marathon) in the Middle Keys to Little Duck Key in the Lower Keys.
Among the longest bridges in existence when it was built. This a a truely unique and dreamy drive, which is a great addition to your motorcycle road trip. If your have a friend with you, bring a drone with a camera attached to capture some epic shots like we did below!
E. Los Angeles to Orlando, Florida Road Trip.
If you start your Ultimate Motorcycle road trip in Los Angeles, follow Route 66 in reverse to Texas, then head to the Gulf Coast, visit New Orleans, and end your trip in Orlando Florida.
F. Starting from Montana (North West) – Road Trip.
Leg 1: Glacier National Park (Montana, Sun Road)
Going-to-the-Sun is a sensational 50 mile stretch of mountain road which cuts through Montana’s Glacier National Park.
Expect to see remarkable waterfalls, beautiful wildflowers, impressive glaciers and a host of wildlife.
From Big horn sheep to mountain goats, watch out for these as you head up to the Jackson Glacier Overlook, for dazzling view.
Top Tip: Start early in the Morning, check the weather and plan ahead.
Leg 2: Montana to Wyoming Road Trip – Beartooth Highway (US 212) , Yellowstone National Park
Beartooth Highway is an exciting 68 mile stretch involving a variety of deep curves, zig zags and switchbacks.
As you zig zag your way up for a few hours you will find yourself at the highest highway in the northern Rockies, Beartooth pass at a whopping 10,947 feet! Here pull up the bike and lay your eyes magical scenery from cascading waterfalls, lush greeny, alpine glaciers and crystal lakes.
Custer National Forest and Shoshone National Forest are definitely major highlights as the road twists through these beauties. A gorgeous route on any Motorcycle Road trip.
Tip: The pass is only open from mid-May to mid-October due to snow.
G. Maine Road Trip (East Coast) – Coastal Highway 1
The Coastal part of Maines US Route 1 is 170 miles of striking scneary and one of the most fantastic Motorcycle road trip routes in the U.S.A, stretching from Brunswick to Machias.
Maine a landmark in itself with over 3478 miles of coastline, quaint seaside villages, National Parks, historic lighthouses and great food from lobsters to fresh blueberries. The highway connects with many other scenic routes, including a ferry ride to Nova Scotia.
H. South to North from West of Mississippi (Road Trip)
If you take I-90, Minneapolis is pretty great, and I think it’s actually illegal not to stop at Mount Rushmore and Wall Drug .
You can cut straight across on US-16 into Yellowstone, then pop back out the other side and take I-15 north to rejoin I-90 in Montana. (Don’t miss Glacier National Park while you’re up there.).
Northern Motorcycle Road Trip? – Try Cabot Trail, Canada!
When I say North, I mean all the way to Nova Scotia, Canada! It’s worth it, for the Cabot Trail.
A 185 miles stretch of river of a road which follows the curvature of the land and makes for some of the most brilliant Ocean views in the world.
The actual route traverses the northern most part of Cape Breton Island and twists through Cape Breton National Highlands Park. This is like Blue ridge Parkways Canadian Sister.
Read More below to find out…How much would the Motorcycle Road trip cost?