By Team EarPeace
Hear me out: your next vacation should be a motorcycle vacation. Don’t get me wrong, laying on the beach with a sweaty marg is tough to beat, but the sense of adventure and peace you get on your Saturday morning rides near your house multiply tenfold when you’re exploring a new landscape, on the road everyday, and open to the unexpectd. With all of the incredible riding the US has to offer, there is a ton of great places to choose from, for riders of all skill levels and time constraints. There’s no excuse not to plan a trip like this, especially as we have spent so long restrained by COVID. While you might have to wait until the spring to feel comfortable off the road, there’s never a better time to expand your mind and the horizon. This is the kind of vacation where you come back having truly done something for yourself. Stretch your skills, see the stars, enjoy the nomad’s freedom for a brief blissful moment. From a weekend getaway to a two-week trek through the wilderness, here are six of the most infamous rides the US has to offer.
Tail of the Dragon, Deals Gap, NC. Deep in the heart of the Smokey Mountains one of the most infamous roads in the U.S. winds its way down out of the mountains. Not just motorcycles--anything with wheels is drawn to this mountain pass between the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. Three hundred and eighteen curves in eleven short miles. Some of these curves are so infamous themselves, they have names: Copperhead Corner, Hog Pen Bend, Beginners End and the not at all concerning Brake or Bust. It’s one thing to do some curves, but the near dizzying rhythm needed for navigating this section of highway makes it an incredible stop for anyone who rides. The even better part is that the roads to and from this section of highway (named Tail of the Dragon because it really does look like a dragon’s tail) are also incredible rides, and during the summer the lush mountain passes are thick with motorcyclists and car enthusiasts of every ilk. It’s the kind of road that feels terrifying and fast at 30 miles an hour.
San Juan Mountain Skyway, Durango, Colorado. If you’re looking for a road to really experience the breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains, look no further than this two hundred and thirty-three mile trek through the best views Colorado has to offer. This road follows the old narrow-gauge railroad grades, cut directly into the sides of the mountains with steep drops right off the roadside. The road can easily be done in sections, or all together, and it has a lot of enjoyable features—some switchbacks and loads of S curves—that are just challenging for the learning rider and just plain fun for more advanced ones. But the technical riding isn’t the draw here, it’s the views of Colorado’s peaks and the feeling of riding in a fantasy world straight from a painting that makes this road so incredible to experience.
The Alaskan Highway, Portland Oregon to Anchorage Alaska. If you had to choose just one multi-day motorcycle trip to make in the U.S., make it this eleven day journey from Portland, Oregon to Anchorage, Alaska. This all-paved route takes you through British Columbia, the Yukon, and up and around into interior Alaska to end in Anchorage, and offers one of the most rugged, remote experiences you can get on a motorcycle trip. The road has incredible views through national parks, mountain ranges, alpine lakes and gold rush towns, but this road also brings a sense of journey and adventure—whether you go it alone or with a tour package, there is the sense of the rest of life falling away and the road being the only thing left to worry about.
The Twisted Sisters, Medina, Texas. In the heart of hill country Texas is another shorter road that packs a punch with the curves. This ranch road highway winds through the incredible rugged geography of the limestone bluffs and canyons and rivers that the Texas hills have to offer, with one section boasting sixty-five loops in fifteen miles. A little less technical than Tail of the Dragon, it’s perfect for intermediate riders and is sheer, western fun.
The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. One of the most remote places in the U.S., and the last to be mapped, this vast stretch of land offers one of the most incredible and diverse experiences you can get on a motorcycle. The riding is unforgettable, the views are unimaginable, and the experience of Utah’s deserts and canyons and night sky are ones you’ll never forget. As you ride this stretch of one hundred and fifty three miles of national lands, the layers of sedimentary rock change colors, from pinks and reds to white and chocolate. Through the sequence of the most famous canyons—Grand, Zion and Bryce—you end up feeling as if you are in a dream world or even a glimpse of what being a stranger on another planet might look like. This ride isn’t all exposed rock either, as it winds through forests, alpine woods and foothill fruit orchards. Regularly touted as one of the best rides you can do in America, this is one that should be high on your list.
Beartooth Highway, Montana. Completely opposite, but not any less spectacular than The Grand Staircase, is this sixty-eight mile stretch of peaceful mountain riding in Montana and Wyoming. It begins just outside of Yellowstone and winds through sweeping wilderness and mountains that seem untouched by humans. This road is only open from May to October, due to its high elevation through the Rockies, where winter can linger for a long time. It’s good for learning riders who want to stretch themselves on the switchbacks, and fun for experienced riders who are looking for some fun riding and incredible views.
Now is the perfect time to plan next spring and summer’s trips, as you’ll get the most options for reserving hotels or camp sites and any equipment you might need. Pack your bags, don’t forget your safety gear like gloves and EarPeace, and get out there. The open road is calling. Answer it, damn it!