Motorcycle enthusiasts are on an eternal quest to find an experience the curviest of roads. I decided to look into some choice asphalt spread out over the nation to help you satiate your desire for a compelling ride.
In no particular order, and without attempting to say which is the best, here 10 curvy roads that are time-tested rider favorites.
I’ve written about Pacific Coast Highway so often, it’s almost second nature to recount its glories. Although SR 1 stretches more than 600 miles along the California coast, it’s the 90 miles of serpentine beauty between Hearst Castle in San Simeon in the south and Carmel-by-the-Sea in the north that remains my personal all-time favorite outing on two wheels.
After some 100 forays, I still get excited when my plans call for this ride.
Situated along one of California’s most dramatic coastlines, this section presents an excellent, winding adrenaline rush set against a striking backdrop. Relatively barren and pleasantly remote, the route rewards you with unforgettable riding and stunning views.
Top off in Cambria or Carmel (depending on which direction you’re headed) as there are few opportunities for fuel in between—and the precious fluid is quite expensive. The route’s charms, found in its hugging the unstable craggy cliffs, make it subject to frequent landslides, so check for road closures before heading out to ensure this ride of a lifetime is open and waiting for you.
Tail of the Dragon (also known simply as The Dragon) enjoys a legendary status as a must-ride for motorcyclists. The famous route officially begins in North Carolina at the intersection of SR 28 and US 129, and ends on the Tabcat Creek Bridge in Tennessee.
Just 11 miles in total, this section of road features 318 turns curving through beautiful forests. You also get to enjoy the luxury (as well as the safety) of no cross-traffic or driveways that could interfere with the ride.
Bordered by the Great Smoky Mountains and Cherokee National Forest, the scenery is gorgeous. However, the trees contributing to the beauty can drop leaves on the pavement in fall, so be alert and watch for slippery patches.
There are plenty of tight corners, so it’s best to remain on guard as a steady stream of motorcycles and sports cars will be enjoying the road as well, especially in the spring and summer months. Stay diligent and ride within your ability, and the Tail of the Dragon will live up to its reputation, delivering a ride worthy of being etched into your mind forever.
Pikes Peak rises over Colorado Springs, CO, to an elevation of 14,115 feet, making it the highest summit of the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains in North America. Starting in Manitou Springs, at the base of the mountain, Pikes Peak Highway (which is officially a toll road) actually initially climbs a few miles up Ute Pass at Cascade.
The road is 19 miles in total, and takes riders up a dramatic elevation change unfolding over a series of switchbacks. Known as The W’s, these corners, some without guardrails, provide a tricky ascent and descent.
Travelers that brave the mountain are rewarded with stunning views at the peak. There’s a gift shop and restaurant at the summit. Oxygen is thin at this elevation, so it’s best to move slowly and steadily.
Since 1916, the annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb has awed spectators with ever-increasing speeds in the chase for record times and the vaunted title of King of the Mountain. The twisting official race circuit comprises the upper 12 miles of the road, with a total of 156 corners—many with unprotected sheer drops—that creates a completely unique and unquestionably thrilling competition.
The Snake is a 37-mile loop on US 421 that starts in the farmlands of Tennessee, just north of Mountain City. It climbs into the surrounding mountains, with challenging twists and turns taking you through forests on decent pavement that offers plenty of grip for the more rambunctious.
The lower section, which is more sport bike-oriented, delivers riders to a somewhat isolated country store that has become a favorite haunt for motorcycle enthusiasts. You can purchase refreshments, eat, and refuel there. As you might expect, Snake T-shirts are available as a badge of honor.
Continuing on, the Snake lopes across three separate mountains in a total of 489 turns, taking you over the state line and into Washington County, VA. Traversing national forests makes for a pleasant and scenic backdrop to the ride, which includes passing through a small tunnel at Backbone Rock (there’s a trail for the intrepid if you want to scale to the peak).
Passing through the town of Damascus, you’ll pick up SR 91 which carries you back into the woods of Tennessee.
As part of SR 112, which runs east-west between Lincoln and Conway, NH, this 34.5-mile section is an officially recognized National Scenic Byway. It earned this status partly for being one of the best places in the world to view changing, multi-colored foliage in the fall.
The ride will take you through White Mountain National Forest to an elevation of 2,855 feet. Pull-outs are situated generously for admiring the White Mountains, Swift River, Lower and Sabbaday Falls, and the Rocky Gorge.
The Kancamagus Highway (known locally as the Kanc) is open year round, offering up its picturesque vistas and natural wonders to the adventurous. The Kanc proffers a series of hairpins before following the Swift River for 21 miles of scenic riding.
At the Lincoln side of the Kancamagus Highway is Loon Mountain and Hobo Railroad, both popular tourist attractions. At the Conway end, you’ll find a host of restaurants and shops, as well as Conway’s Scenic Railroad and Cranmore Mountain Resort.
This region is full of wildlife, such as moose, deer, bears, porcupines and skunks, so use extreme caution while riding.
Branded by Car & Driver Magazine as their favorite midwestern driving choice during their test of the Aston Martin Vanquish, the Hocking Hills Loop—also known as the Hocking Hills Scenic Byway—is also a treat to motorcyclists. It consists of a rush of hairpins weaving through forests, which become flooded with wildflowers in spring.
Spring and summer thaw out the forests and melt away the ice and snow to present a perfect motorcycling adventure. The Hocking Hills Loop’s 30 miles of twists and turns are augmented by stunning scenery. The favored route utilizes portions of SR 56, 374, and 664.
The route has several points of interest (and assistance) for motorcyclists, including Hocking Hills Motorcycle Ranch, which is a bike shop and a popular gathering spot. JimBo’s Burgers and Beer, a motorcyclist-owned establishment, is in South Bloomingville.
For sightseeing there’s Ash Cave with its waterfall. For overnight stays, visit the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls, and for fine dining, there’s Hocking Hills Dining Lodge.
SR 97 in New York is a popular location among ad agencies to film commercials for sports cars. That tells you something about the road’s dynamics.
Stretching along the New York-Pennsylvania border for 70 miles, this popular sporting road connects Hancock in Delaware County to Port Jervis in Orange County. The route traipses the surrounding hills and the twists and turns of the Delaware River, taking riders through small townships and hamlets.
This road has earned its iconic status, specifically the portion known as the Hawk’s Nest. Tight, twisting corners weave through the Catskills at a posted 40 mph, but be aware of slow-moving sightseers.
The Hawk’s Nest is popular enough among sports car enthusiasts and motorcycle riders to warrant a number of video posts on YouTube.
SR 97 is just a two-hour ride from Manhattan, with the welcome notion that wide-open country and the freedom of riding is but a short jaunt from the culture and bustle of New York City.
Valley of Fire Highway got its name comes from the red, wind-sculpted sandstone that creates this masterpiece of nature. The canyon rewards you with a gently twisting two-lane road that reveals new wonders around each bend.
The movement of the sun through its arc results in dramatic changes in the surroundings. Shadows outline the already mysterious rock formations and the changing lighting conditions tease the reds into various shades throughout the day—most prominent at sunrise and sunset.
Located just northeast of Las Vegas on I-15, take exit 75 to the Valley of Fire State Park (Nevada’s oldest) toward SR 169. A feast for the eyes and a rewarding waltz with the throttle, the road unfolds its glories over 23 miles.
A host of geological formations entertain the traveler along the route, including Arch Rock, Piano Rock, and Rainbow Vista. Some of the rock formations rise some 500 feet from the desert floor.
This is the desert, so caution is important. Fall and spring are good times to visit, with summer bringing severe and potentially dangerous heat.
If you choose to experience this ride in summer, be prepared with plenty of water, sunscreen, a good head covering, and suitable communication. Travel smart and you’ll tuck away yet another road gem into the treasure chest of memories.
Considered to be some of the best and most challenging motorcycle riding in Texas, the Twisted Sisters has a long and storied history, attracting riders on all types of motorcycles. The route is made up of a combination of SR 335, 336, and 337 for a total of about 100 miles.
These roads weave through twisting canyons of dramatic cliffs, providing for wonderful vistas and scenic environments. But be careful, as the lack of guardrails in some sections has the potential of inviting a dangerous outcome.
Relatively remote, you’d be well-advised to top up before embarking on the Sisters.
Within easy reach of the route, you’ll find the Patio Cafe in Medina (where the route either ends or begins for you), as well as the provocatively named Bent Rim Cafe in Leakey. Also in Leakey is Frio Canyon Motorcycle Shop for two-wheeled support.
Suggestions for overnight stays in the area include Foxfire Log Cabins in Vanderpool and the Historic Leakey Inn in Leakey.
Located in Southern California, this two-lane gem has long been a legendary motorcycle ride. Angeles Crest Highway (SR 2) snakes over and through the San Gabriel Mountains just north of Los Angeles, with a wide range of corner styles and speeds.
The route starts in La Canada Flintridge (fuel up here) and goes for a thrilling 66 miles all the way to Pearblossom Highway (SR 138). The endless series of curves ascend to the summit at Dawson Saddle, which at 7,903 feet is one of the highest points in southern California.
The lower sections at the southern end, close to the urban sprawl, will experience a lot of traffic. This dissipates substantially the farther you go into the mountains, the road opening up with a good chance of granting you a somewhat clear patch of road.
The legendary status means there are a lot of car and motorcycle racers that attack the mountain on weekends, so be aware.