10 US Riding Destinations with Bizarre Names

10 US Riding Destinations with Bizarre Names

Some riding destinations in North America have evocative, awe-inspiring names, like the Blue Ridge Parkway or the Sea to Sky Highway. The names for some other places are… Less so.

Many locations in the U.S. have decidedly mind-boggling names. But that makes them worth taking your bike to—if only to find out where on earth such a name came from.

Here are 10 American motorcycling destinations with strange and unusual names. Try combining these stops with some outlandish roadside attractions for a truly bizarre road trip.

Possumneck, MS

Possumneck’s name is delightfully literal. This tiny hamlet in Mississippi’s Attala County received its name from two verifiable hard facts.

The first one is that it’s located on a neck of land (that is, a sort of an isthmus) between Sharkey Creek and Big Black River. As such, when the town was originally founded in the 1830s, it was known as The Neck, because it was on the neck.

However, the area between the two rivers is—or at least once was—teeming with opossums. The locals began joking that the place should be called Possumneck instead. And then it was.

Possumneck is located on SR 19, a gently curving rural two-laner, which makes visiting the place a joy. The Natchez Trace Parkway is also only 12 miles away, so it’s easy to incorporate this neck of the woods into a bigger motorcycle outing.

Corn, OK

Should you ride to west-central Oklahoma, you would see fields of corn, corn, and some more corn. With that in mind, it’s only appropriate that you’ll also come across the town of Corn.

Curiously, the town’s name has gone through a tiny but significant change over the years. When German immigrants settled in the area in the late 19th century, they named their community Korn—after the German word for “grain.”

Then World War I rolled around in 1914, and being German wasn’t suddenly all that popular. Consequently, locals changed the first letter of their town’s name and it became Corn, which still fit the locale to a tee.

The roads around Corn itself are, admittedly, ruler-straight lanes across flat farmland, but there are multiple fun little loops out of the nearby Oklahoma City. Hit the remaining section of Route 66 between Arcadia and Stroud, or get on the Red Rock Canyon Loop along US 62 and 281 for some curves, hills, and—of course—a beautiful canyon.

Ding Dong, TX

Zulis Bell and his nephew Bert ran a country store in an area that was called McBryde Crossing along the Lampasas River in central Texas. In the early 1930s, they asked a local artist to design a sign for their shop.

The finished sign sported two bells on it, together weighing around 200 pounds. The bells were engraved with the names “Zulius” and “Bert”, and the sign above displayed the words “ding dong.”

Can you see where this is going?

You guessed it. The sign inspired the small community that had grown around the store to name itself Ding Dong in honor of the Bells.

There’s a great little ride that begins right here in Ding Dong—hop onto FM 2670 and follow the farm-to-market roads through a variety of turns to Burnett on a route called the Killeen Twisty Getaway. Another great ride, known as Hippie Hollow Horror, begins a bit farther south near Austin at Four Points and serves up delightful curves that require some skill to navigate.

Possum Grape, AR

Possum Grape is a minuscule community in rural Arkansas, sitting roughly halfway between Bradford and Newport. It might surprise you that the town’s name was born from conflict.

It wasn’t a great war like WWI with Corn, though. Possum Grape’s name simply reflects a local clash of wills.

The hamlet was founded in the early 1900s, but for nearly two decades, the residents kept arguing with each other over whether to name their home Possum or Grape. In the end, they reached a compromise and went for Possum Grape. I can only assume there was another argument over which word should come first.

You can ride through Possum Grape on SR 367 heading southwest from Newport, and then keep going until you hit Little Rock. In this area, you’ll find plenty of great motorcycling roads and loops, such as the Arkansas River Road (SR 89/300/113), Toad Suck Run along SR 9, and the Ozark Highlands Scenic Byway.

Chugwater, WY

It’s important to stay hydrated while in the saddle. The town of Chugwater in Wyoming reminds you to take a sip from your water bladder.

Chugwater’s name stems from Chugwater Creek, also called simply the Chug, which flows along the town. The creek, in turn, is rumored to be named after a Native American hunting expedition.

A chief of a local Mandan tribe was hurt during the hunt and passed the expedition’s reins to his son. The young leader proved capable and the hunters drove many bison over a cliff near the creek, the animals’ carcasses making a “chugging” noise as they plummeted to the ground.

The nearest excellent riding route to Chugwater is the Snowy Range and Woods Landing Loop to the southwest in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest. This route forms a triangle between Laramie, Saratoga, and Riverside along SR 130 and 230 for some majestic mountain and forest views.

Booger Hole, WV

According to local legends, the community of Booger Hole got its name from murders most foul. In 1917, this tiny town experienced roughly a dozen murders over a short period.

Despite the townsfolk forming a mob to catch the perpetrator, no murderer was ever caught according to all existing records. The mystery killer was dubbed a boogieman—or “booger” in local slang—and the town got its name from the spree of violence.

That’s the story, anyway. Reliable records, however, show that the place was already called Booger Hole before the murders.

So where does the name come from? Who knows—perhaps from a particularly snotty pioneer.

Due to its location in central West Virginia, Booger Hole is near to a lot of great motorcycling opportunities. You could head to the 55 miles of twisties on SR 20 between Buckhannon and Webster Springs, explore the Monongahela National Forest on US 219, or roll through the mountain on US 250 to Virginia and Skyline Drive.

Knockemstiff, OH

Knockemstiff in south-central Ohio is also known by the much less interesting monikers Shady Glenn and Glenn Shade. The origin of its official name, though, is shrouded in mystery.

One story claims that the name came from a particularly intense community-wide brawl in the town’s early days. Another states that “knockemstiff” was a local nickname for moonshine, which was produced in abundance in the area.

The most entertaining story, however, tells of a slighted wife who asked a local preacher what she should do about her cheating husband. The clergyman’s professional, if not necessarily divinely inspired, advice was: “Knock ‘im stiff.”

There are a couple of equally entertaining roads near Knockemstiff. SR 41 south from Bainbridge takes you past Ohio Amish farms through hills and blind turns, while SR 772 and 73 from Chillicothe to Portsmouth serve up even more turns. Or you could ride a couple of hours northeast to hit up the Triple Nickel.

Why, AZ

Sometimes you have to stop and ask yourself, “Why?”—like when you see the name Why, AZ. This incorporated community with about 150 residents got its name in equal measure from bureaucratic stiffness and sheer laziness.

The small community is located where SR 85 and 86 used to meet at a Y-intersection (although later works have changed the junction to a regular T-intersection). When the time came to name the hamlet, the locals wanted to simply call it “Y” after the roads’ meeting point.

That didn’t work with Arizona bureaucrats, though, as state laws required all town and city names to have at least three letters. So, the locals spelled the letter out as “Why.”

There’s a lot of flat desert around Why, but SR 86 east to Tucson is a relaxing, laid-back zip through the Tohono O’odham Nation. In Tucson, you can then visit the ride-through Saguaro National Park or head north to Arizona’s mountain roads, all the way to the Grand Canyon.

Worms, NE

Figuring out the name of this Nebraska village requires you to open a real can of worms. The history of Worms (or at least its name) stretches back more than 1,500 years.

The name comes from central Germany, where the original Celtic residents lived in a place called Borbetomagus (“a town near some water”). When the Romans conquered the area, the name warped into Vormatia in Latin.

From this name, we get the still-existing city’s Polish name, Wormacja, and German name, Worms. German immigrants then finally brought the name to America.

Worms is located smack dab in the middle of an endless grid of straight rural roads, but it’s very close to the starting point of a wonderful motorcycling experience. Just ride a few miles south to Grand Island and get on SR 2—also known as the 360-mile-long Sandhill Journey Scenic Byway across the prairie.

Dinosaur, CO

Take a wild guess what the town of Dinosaur in Colorado is named after. You got it—dinosaurs.

It wasn’t always that way, though. Dinosaur used to be called Baxter Springs after the local springs’ owners, Art and Fanny Baxter.

Later on, the name changed to Artesia, still carrying echoes of its previous namesakes. Finally, in 1966, the name changed to Dinosaur to attract tourists flocking to the nearby Dinosaur National Monument.

If you’re on an off-road-capable bike, you might as well take the trail up to Dinosaur National Monument to see some fossils. For an on-road adventure, ride a few miles down to Rangely and take SR 139 south for mountain curves and awesome views.