10 Unique Summer Motorcycle Trip Destinations in the U.S.
At RoadRUNNER, we are always searching for new routes that take you to historically and socially significant destinations—and offer a fantastic riding experience. Here are 10 destinations to spark your wanderlust this summer.
Voted the Best Western Small Town by USA Today, Cody, WY, sits in the northwestern part of the state. It was founded by Colonel William Frederick Cody, aka Buffalo Bill, who first came to the region in the 1870s—so naturally there’s a state park named after the famous frontiersman.
Steeped in the atmosphere of the Wild West, Cody is rife with wildlife and offers visitors the chance to experience a wild mustang tour and visit authentic frontier towns. A mecca of outdoor recreation, there’s also a number of museums for the armchair historian—Draper Natural History Museum, Plains Indian Museum, and, of course, Buffalo Bill Museum. As the rodeo capital of the world, Cody presents a rodeo every night during the summer months.
Located 52 miles from Yellowstone National Park, Cody sits on the Shoshone River between the Beartooth and Absaroka Mountains, surrounded by beautiful open spaces and dynamic scenery. Although paying homage to the past, Cody also has restaurants, shopping, art galleries, museums, and businesses.
Cody is also the rodeo capital of the world and hosts a rodeo every single night throughout the summer months.
With a small town feel, Sewanee—home to the University of the South—has a unique appeal that draws teachers and students from around the globe. Known for its concerts under the stars, there are a number of musically-themed museums that celebrate Tennessee’s influence on American music.
Restaurants in town offer everything from burgers to risotto. There are a number of coffee shops to get you started on your ride in the morning.
Surrounded by forests and dramatic bluffs, the region has waterfalls and extensive hiking trails, mountain biking, and horseback riding. For the motorcyclist, there are a number of backroads that weave in and around the area, playing host to numerous overlooks that offer stunning views.
Closeby is Chattanooga, as well as the Jack Daniels distillery. There are rides that will take you to Bridal Veil Falls and Sewanee Natural Bridge.
A classic American town, born of heavy industry in the 1800s, Canton, OH, is enjoying a resurgence with an influx of artistically-minded residents and, thus, an increasing focus on tourism. Known for being the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Canton proudly boasts its famed son, the 25th President William McKinley, who famously gave a front porch speech from his home, credited with winning him the presidency in 1896.
A popular motorcycle ride starts at the McKinley Memorial and ends at the Hall of Fame. Once outside the city, there are great touring roads, such as SR 212 that skirts Conotton Creek and the roller coaster-like SR 151 from Bowerston to Scio. SR 9 is has challenging and entertaining twisties, and SR 7 grants views of the Ohio River.
Other points of interest include the Canton Museum of Art, the McKinley National Monument and Presidential Library, the Canton Classic Car Museum, and the MAPS Air Museum.
Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Boasting 300 days of sunshine a year, Lake Havasu is known as Arizona’s playground, with an endless array of water and land sports. The city has grown up around its famous landmark—London Bridge.
The bridge was bought in 1968 by Robert McCulloch—of small engine-building fame—and transported brick by brick to Lake Havasu. After its re-assembly in 1971, it sat for a while in desert sand before the lake was expanded, providing a strangely surreal vision for anyone who happened upon it.
Lake Havasu is a great place to cool off by taking a plunge when the region’s famous heat hits. This area is well-suited for adventure riders seeking a true off-road experience. With some research, you will find the level of riding you desire, from easy washboard fire roads to demanding, technical single track, and everything in between.
Just be well-prepared, as the desert is somewhat unforgiving, especially in summer. And be aware of the RV traffic, which seems to gravitate toward this desert playground.
This former mining settlement is the county seat in Trinity County, roughly 50 miles from Mount Shasta. Being situated in northern California, Weaverville has a number of curvy roads, mixed with scenery and history.
Established in 1850 on US 299, today Weaverville offers recreational and cultural activities. Its historic downtown is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places for the preserved architecture of its buildings, including a penchant for spiral staircases.
The mining days may be gone, but the mines have been replaced with galleries, shopping, and dining, including historic drinking establishments.
Weaverville is a wonderful base to route out from. There are numerous day rides that can clover-leaf out from the city to include Mount Shasta, the Shasta Trinity Forest, and a coastal ride that takes you out to Eureka and the Pacific Ocean. Pull up the area on your favorite map app and ogle the various winding routes.
Idaho remains a beautifully uncluttered example of the American frontier, with undeveloped land and mountain ranges that provide a dramatic backdrop to any ride. Nestled in the mountains of central Idaho is the small town of Salmon, which takes its name from the Salmon River (aka “the river of no return”).
A rural community of 3,300 residents, the town has a strong history of mining and lumber, as well as prominent family ranching. Located on the Continental Divide, Lewis and Clark famously visited the Salmon Valley in 1805 during their expedition, where they re-supplied for their journey to the ocean. The area is famed for its white water rafting, hiking, fishing and other outdoor activities.
This wide-open part of the state has parks, rivers, and public lands. For the motorcyclist, there are several roads that snake in and around the area, connecting various sights and tourist destinations.
The most prominent route is the Salmon River Scenic Byway, which gently meanders the open valleys and mountain passes, providing an excellent route for cruising with a dynamic mountain backdrop. With hotels and restaurants, Salmon is a cozy base for the traveling motorcyclist.
The town of Harrison’s website boasts a full section just for motorcyclists! Outlining a number of routes (with maps and details), it includes such names as Bull Shoals Dam Route, Eureka Springs Backroads, Jasper Disaster, Mountain View Run, Ozark Moonshine Run, Peel Ferry Route, The Lost Mine Run, Triple B Backroads, and the very alluring Twisted Lady.
The website has descriptive language to appeal to the sensibilities of riders: “... the many curves, twists and sweepers in the Ozark Mountains.” It goes on to claim that the Ozarks, and Harrison specifically, are becoming one of the most popular locations for motorcycle riding in the U.S.
So why are we talking about the website? Because any town, city, or state whose government offices can include this type of info on their online resources deserves a look
The site has a dedicated Motorcycle Riding Guide that highlights the routes with details, maps, directions, distances and facilities. What a pleasant, unexpected surprise.
Lake George, New York
New York is looking to attract motorcycle tourism by helping riders plan a two-wheeled trip to the Adirondacks. With six million acres, Upstate New York’s Adirondack Park has a series of roads that will appeal to the motorcyclist.
Various routes snake in and over these mountain ranges, passing through unspoiled wilderness areas and along old logging trails. Laced with quaint towns and gorgeous views, the smooth Adirondack roads take you to discover summer’s lush greenery and autumn’s colorful foliage.
A total of 14 byways wind through the area, from the 140-mile Central Adirondack Trail to the famous 17-mile Blue Ridge Road. The Lake George region also boasts motorcycle-friendly hotels and various lodgings that offer special discounts for touring bikers. And, of course, there are top restaurants offering great food and music.
The town of Tazewell, VA, is the scenic gateway to the Appalachian Mountains. The town itself is quaint, with Main St lined with beautifully preserved brick buildings and period architecture.
Just beyond city limits and visible from downtown, the lush Appalachian Mountains beckon. They will entertain you with a host of nearby roads that pass through valleys and plains of horse land, dotted with small family ranches.
In the Appalachian Mountains lies also a motorcycling favorite—the Blue Ridge Parkway. This route is legendary, with sweeping turns that gently meander through the mountains and picturesque scenery with plenty of places to take in the views.
Depending on the time of year you visit, the area is famous for its dramatic change of foliage in autumn, where the colors bring dramatic flair to the entire state. Be prepared for sporadic precipitation (both light sprinkles and heavy rainfall) year round, and be especially mindful during that colorful autumnal falling of leaves, which can create an unusually slippery surface for motorcyclists.
Also, as a popular driving destination, be prepared for summer crowds in slow-moving cars.
Founded in 1821, Colombia is home to University of Missouri. It’s a midwest college town, with a penchant for journalism and art.
Being a college town, there are a number of coffee shops that suit the tastes of any motorcyclist. With the Museum of Art and Archaeology and events like the True/False Film Festival and the Roots N Blues Festival, Colombia offers contrasts.
Being near the mid-state forests and prairies at the start point of the Ozark Mountains, the rolling landscape results in an array of motorcycle rides. Various rides serve miles upon miles of twists and turns, taking you everywhere from vineyards to the largest bur oak tree in Missouri. Situated near the Missouri River, there are a number of smaller side roads that provide you with the opportunity to explore, offering sightseeing that twists and turns with the waterway. Situated throughout Missouri are small towns and townships that harken back to the country’s history in a show of preserved buildings, many of which have been turned into quaint cafes.