The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) announced this month a list of the 15 best motorcycling roads in America, nominated and selected by its members. The list includes 15 scenic highways and byways across America, many of which are familiar to motorcyclists. In the survey, AMA members nominated about 100 roads. Below is the list of the top 15, starting with the road that received the most votes. Have you ever ridden on those roads? What are your favorite motorcycle roads in America?
1. Beartooth Highway, a section of Highway 212, along Montana-Wyoming border
The number-one road on the AMA list is the Beartooth Highway, a section of Highway 212 between Red Lodge, Montana and Cooke City, Montana, along the Montana-Wyoming border. Beartooth Highway is on the list of All-American Roads—the most scenic roads in America recognized by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Beartooth Highway is open from mid-May to mid-October. The top of the pass has heavy snowfalls during the winter. Because of the high elevation, snowstorms on Beartooth Highway may break even in the middle of the summer. The road is also known for its high winds and thunderstorms, so don’t forget to pack some rain gear in case of a rogue storm.
2. The Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
The Blue Ridge Parkway is another All-American Road. It is also a National Parkway—a protected scenic road, part of the National Park System. The Blue Ridge Parkway covers a stretch of 469 miles and connects the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. The Blue Ridge Parkway offers scenery and recreational opportunities that make it one of the most visited sections of the National Park System.
3. The Tail of the Dragon, a section of U.S. Route 129, along North Carolina-Tennessee border
The Tail of the Dragon is an 11-mile section of U.S. Route 129, along the North Carolina-Tennessee border. The road’s name comes from its shape that looks like a dragon’s back. The Tail of the Dragon has about 318 curves and runs from Tab Cat Creek to Deals Gap. It takes about 20 minutes to make a one-way pass across the 11 miles with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on one side and a National Forest on the other.
4. The Million Dollar Highway, a section of U.S. Route 550, Colorado
The Million Dollar Highway is a 70 mile-long road from Ouray to Durango, Colorado, passing through the San Juan Mountains. The Million Dollar Highway is part of the San Juan Skyway—a scenic byway in the Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway System. The first 12 miles south of Ouray, the Million Dollar goes through the Uncompahgre Gorge to the summit of Red Mountain Pass.
5. California State Route 1, a section of the Pacific Coast Highway
California State Route 1, also Highway 1, is a state highway along the Pacific coast of California. State Route 1 is another All-American Road, famous for running along some of the most beautiful coastline sceneries in the world. State Route 1 covers a large segment of the Pacific Coast Highway—655.843 mi, starting at Capistrano Beach, Orange County in the south and ending at the small town of Leggett in the north.
6. Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park, Montana
Going-to-the-Sun Road is the only road passing through Glacier National Park, Montana. It is a 50-mile road that connects the east and west sides of the park, climbing over the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. The pass, the highest point of the road, is covered with snow during the winter. Going-to-the-Sun road is open from June to October.
7. Cherohala Skyway, North Carolina, and Tennessee
Cherohala Skyway (also Overhill Skyway) is a 43-mile road that connects Tellico Plains, Tennessee, to Robbinsville, North Carolina in the southeastern United States. Cherohala Skyway goes through a number of protected and recreational areas in the Unicoi Mountains and through two national forests—Cherokee and Nantahala.
8. California State Route 36
California State Route 36 is an east-west state highway starting east from Route 395 near Susanville, Lassen County and ending at Route 101, Fortuna, Humboldt County. California State Route 36 passes the Lassen Volcanic National Park and Lake Almanor, where it forms a section of the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, a National Scenic Byway.
9. Lolo Pass, a section of U.S. Route 12, Idaho and Montana
This road is a mountain pass at the border between Montana and Idaho, which is part of the northern Rocky Mountains. The Lolo Pass is the highest point of the historic Lolo Trail, an ancient Indian route. The Lolo road offers breathtaking views in every direction.
10. Angeles Crest Highway, a section of California State Route 2
The Angeles Crest Highway is a 66-mile section of California State Route 2 between Foothill Boulevard in La Canada Flintridge on the west and State Route 138 on the east. The Angeles Crest Highway passes through the protected area of Angeles National Forest. It is a mountain-rural road that can offer spectacular views of the Los Angeles basin.
11. Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi, and Tennessee
The Natchez Trace Parkway is a two-way road covering 444 miles between Natchez Mississippi and Nashville, Tennessee. Though its construction began in the 1930’s, it was opened to the public in 2005. Natchez Trace Parkway has been designated an All-American Road and commemorates the “Old Natchez Trace”—a historical path created and used by Native Americans and later by European and American explorers. Along the parkway are many historical sites including the ghost town of Rocky Springs and the Mississippi Craft Center in Ridgeland.
12. U.S. Route 33, from Harrisonburg, Virginia, to Seneca Rocks, West Virginia
This is 65-mile section of U.S. Route 33 with turns and switchbacks that can be compared to that of the Tail of the Dragon road. The road offers views of forests and valleys.
13. California State Route 58, from McKittrick to Santa Margarita
This road is a 70-mile section of California State Route 58 that crosses the Sierra Nevada range.