America’s Byways (For Motorcycle Riders)

Motorcycle-BywaysWHAT ARE THE BEST MOTORCYCLE ROADS? I’m sure there’s a bunch of roads you could name right now that you deem as your favorites. But did you know that there is an even bigger bunch that is officially designated as “National Scenic Byways“? And, by the way, what the heck is an officially designated “All-American Road”?

Here’s the scoop:

The US Department of Transportation recognizes certain chunks of motorcycle-riding splendor for their archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, and/or scenic qualities and calls them “National Scenic Byways.”

If that’s not an enticing enough list of soul-fulfilling riding destinations, they then take that list and isolate a number that are the MOST scenic and those are called “All-American Roads.” Stated differently, these are America’s “A list” motorcycle destinations for sport-touring riders. All-American Roads include destinations such as:

♦ Big Sur Coast Highway

♦ Beartooth Highway

♦ Blue Ridge Parkway

♦ San Juan Skyway

In fact, check out the whole list of America’s Byways

What’s your favorite byway?

26 thoughts on “America’s Byways (For Motorcycle Riders)

  • I’ve heard PCH is a wonderful ride, but I’ve been in all of the lower 48 and 9 Canadian provinces on my motorcycle, and there are MANY roads that will rival your favorite. Have you driven the Beartooth Highway? Have you ridden the Cabot Trail from Pleasant Bay to Cheticamp? (Yes, ya’ll, I know that road is in Nova Scotia and this is “America’s Byways” but he did say PCH was the best in the universe. LOL) Have you experienced the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway? The Going To The Sun Road in Glacier Nat’l Park? Those are just a handful of my favorites. I’m heading out this coming Saturday for my annual motorcycle vacation and I hope to discover more new favorites. Drive safe, ya’ll.

  • In this universe, there is no road like the ‘Pacific Coast Highway’, PERIOD!

  • I m agree there are really specials bikes roads, here at south of the border close to Mexico city, there is a very singular road that takes you to Cuernavaca city aprox 50 miles of windy roads tru a pine smell , where every sunday ( at least last 35 years) meet hundreds of bikers of all types ( cruisers, asphalt scrapers, even some scooters) to enjoy sunny days .

  • Can you please check that link for the American Byways Map as I couldn’t get it to work?

  • What is the best road? The one I am riding today. “Riding roads” are like beer, there are no bad ones only some better then others, a matter of individual taste.

  • Bruce, I was Montana in August. Glacier Nat’l Park was beautiful from the seat of my motorcycle. Another road I like in MT is Beartooth Highway.

  • N.W. Montana, no matter the road you choose to ride you will enjoy. Twistes everywhere you go. Glacier National Park.Libby,Montana.We have a run the end of july each year.

  • I take 3-week motorcycle vacations every summer and have been in all 48 contiguous States and every Canadian Province from BC to Nova Scotia in the last four years. I’ve been able to ride many, many of the scenic highways and byways in the US and Canada. Beartooth Hwy, Blue Ridge Parkway, Cabot Trail, Cherohala Skyway, Natches Trace, Pikes Peak (yeah, I know…Not officially a scenic byway, but great none the less) are some of my personal favorites, but there is one road everyone should ride for pure beauty…Highway 128 in Utah. I saw it on a map when I was planning how to get to Moab. From I-70 I turned onto Hwy 6 (watch out for rough pavement and herds of Pronghorns walking across that road) and then south onto Hwy 128. For the first part of the ride it just appears to be open country without much scenery, but after a while you have high red rock walls on both sides, and a river running next to you. I stopped at least 15 times to take some amazing pictures. The lighting, about an hour before sunset, made the rock formations jump out visually in a fantastic combination of sun and shade. Just as I was thinking “somebody should designate this road an official scenic byway” I came across a sign showing that someone already had. This is a must drive road for anyone going to or leaving the area of Arches National Park.
    I’m always looking for new and beautiful places to ride, so if you have any ideas please let me know. I usually plan my rides for June, July or August.

  • I totally agree with Roberts feb 2012 post. Northern and Central California are amazing. For easy going sightseeing I don’t know how you beat Highway 1. Cambria to Oregon, its all wonderful (even the jog thru the bay area is ok). If you want twisties to challenge the most aggressive, try Highway 36, Red Bluff to Fortuna. 140 continuous miles of great riding with minimal traffic, even on weekends. Or run the section of Route 1 from the coast to Leggett. There are tons more, many rideable any month of the year. The amazing riding is a main reason I am willing to live in a miserable Central Valley town….

  • We are blessed with many roads with in minutes of Sacramento and others less than a hour away. Tioga Pass through Yosenite. Skyline Drive on the Coastal ridge between San Francisco and San Jose and its many side roads. The Morman Trail and Ice House Road. Mammoth Lake loop. Roads up and through Lassen Vocanic National Park. You see , in California they paved every road they could find and consequently many wind through back country following the curve of the land or a stream. I have traveled as many of the scenic byways as I can and they are great roads and many of our back roads in Northern California make for year round adventure. Whether on a Wing or a Duc or a Bimmer.

  • The most awe inspiring road has to be in Alaska. Its all amazing, but my favorite is from the Wrangell – St Elis gateway town of Chitina. Head west to Valdez on the Richardson Hwy. The sceanery is so spectacular that it will take your breath away. With glaciers, mountains, valleys, waterfalls, rivers, and acres of wildflowers. Not to mention wildlife of wolves, moose and bear. And the traffic is zero.

  • There is more great riding in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains than anywhere else. The area wins for both quantity and quality. I know hundreds of them pretty well, many are designated scenic byways. Can’t deny there are great rides elsewhere, I’ve been all across the country, enjoy seeing and riding them. We may disagree on some (a.k.a. the highway to Key West – highway riding, come on, who wants to deal with traffic?). Give me an empty road snaking through the valleys and passes of the scenic mountains of the southeast, then another, then another. Now that’s riding!

  • Just back from 2400 miles that started on the Blue Ridge Parkway Asheville NC to Boone NC then US-421 to Bristol TN (peg dragging twisties!) In northern Michigan don’t miss the River Road along the Au Sable River in the Huron National Forest to arrive in Oscoda MI.

  • Having nearest this I contemplation it was acutely informative. I increase you taking the obsolete and travail to tete-…-tete this article together. I positively again strike upon myself spending retreat to much rhythm both reading and commenting. But so what, it was quiet grade it!

  • Surely the run coming out of Cherokee , NC , take the gravel road up the cataloochees valley to 321 and through Gatlinburg to the foothills parkwy. End up at Deals Gap motorcycle resort. Heck , the dragon is cool but after 250 miles of switch back it is nothing. Take the long twisty , turny road 62 miles back to Cherokee. Did it on an 81 Yamaha XT 550 in early March. Nobody around but it sure hurt when I stopped for a beer and the lady said “hunni , we have not seen any motorcycles for a while , it is 18 degrees out there today”. I returned back to our vacation house with a mad wifey. She does not understand what a long day of getting lost is all about.

  • My fave is the Cascade Loop in Washington state, Riding north from Wenatchee, WA, up the Columbia river, then to scenic Winthrop, WA an old west theme town. West from there over the North Cascade Highway, across Washington Pass(about 5200 feet elev.)
    thru scenic country to historic Whidby island, then south for a short ferry ride to Mukilteo, south to Monroe, Wa and then east over Stevens Pass, with a stop in the bavarian village of Leavenworth and then home. A great way to spend the day, with mountains, valleys, ocean and great people to meet along the way.

  • In the Great Falls, Montana, ride the highway from GF to Highwood, then to Ft. Benton, and loop back to Great Falls. They are state highways and often have a few rough spots like frost heaves and pot holes. Its deer county so between the road conditions and wild life it will keep you awake.
    I”ve always found the road less traveled is the best one to take. check out “”

  • Everyday of the year I have the good fortune to ride part of the Florida Keys Scenic Highway. Twenty percent of the 106 mile route is over water. So many bridges (50+) so little time.

  • It seems that the department of transportation does not even recognize the existence of Texas. It makes on wonder. I found it strange that RT66 seems to stop at the Texas Oklahoma border and pick up again at the Texas New Mexico border.

  • You did’nt mention hwy 7 thru Arkansas. this road even has about 20 more roads to ride. i soent 5 days and 8 hrs a day and still only road 1/3 of the roads.

  • Nice riding along the Blue Ridge Parkway, although it’s best if you can go on a weekday.

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