RoadRUNNER’s Top 10 Scenic Rides in the U.S.

Dec 25, 2013 View Comments by

Valley of the GodsThere are two primary measures by which motorcyclists rate roads: curves and scenery. Each rider holds these two marks at different levels of priority. Some prefer taking in the sights at a leisurely pace, while others are too busy chasing apices to notice what lies beyond the asphalt boundaries. Most, however, fall somewhere in the middle. Below you’ll find our top ten scenic rides in the continental U.S., as chosen by RoadRUNNER’s touring expert, Jim Parks.

1.     Pacific Coast Highway (California)

This is the famous Highway One tracing 655 miles of the California coast from Orange to Mendocino counties. On tap are nearly endless Pacific Ocean vistas.

2.     Historic U.S. 30 in the Columbia River Gorge (Oregon)

Also known as the Columbia River Highway, this 75-mile long scenic route runs between Troutdale, OR and The Dalles through the Columbia River Gorge. Rolling green hills and stunning river scenes make this a must ride.

3.     Blue Ridge Parkway (Virginia and North Carolina)

With 469 miles of smooth pavement traversing the Appalachian Mountains, the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most famous motorcycle roads on the East Coast. Along the way, riders are treated to expansive Blue Ridge, Appalachian, and Smokey Mountain scenes.

4.     U.S. 12 (Idaho) 

Spanning the state of Idaho from the Washington to Montana state lines, U.S. 12 travels 174 miles and offers glimpses of the Clearwater River and the Nez Perce National Historic Park.

5.     Valley of the Gods (Utah) (pictured at top of article)

FR 242 is a 17-mile long gravel road that winds through Utah’s Valley of the Gods. If the sights seem straight out of a western movie, that’s because they are as many westerns have been filmed in the area.

6.     Cherohala Skyway (North Carolina and Tennessee)

This 43 mile National Scenic Byway connects Tellico Plains, TN, with Robbinsville, NC, gaining over 4,000 feet of altitude in the process. The Skyway’s multitude of overlooks peer out over miles of Appalachian Mountains.

7.     Talimena Scenic Drive (Oklahoma and Arkansas)

Piercing the Ouachita National Forest, the Talimena Scenic Drive travels 43 miles from southeastern Oklahoma to western Arkansas. Along the way the Winding Stair Mountains provide plenty of eye candy.

8.     Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway (South Dakota)

Navigating South Dakota’s famous Black Hills National Forest, this 68-mile scenic byway also makes a stop at Mt. Rushmore and is named after the former South Dakota governor and senator.

9.     State Route 120 (Pennsylvania)

Much of Pennsylvania 120’s 106-mile length carves across the Bucktail State Park Natural Area. The route follows the Sinnemahoning Path, an ancient Native American trail, and offers a plethora of eastern woodland scenery.10. 

10.   San Juan Skyway (Colorado)

This Colorado Skyway is a 233-mile loop around the San Juan Mountains. Here there’s no shortage of rugged mountain terrain to entertain the eyes, and the route crosses multiple10,000-plus foot passes.

What do you think? Do you agree with the list, or would yours look different? How many of these roads have you ridden? And don’t worry, our next top ten list will be all about the curves.

*Note* These are Jim’s personal picks, and he only chose roads he’s actually ridden.


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