There are few things in life more exhilarating than scenic motorcycle trips. The call of the open road is hard to ignore. As the seasons begin to change and the colors of autumn arrive, there’s no better time to break out the map in search of an exciting destination.
If you love fall scenery, you are probably looking for the best routes for motorcycle trips this time of year. Let’s take a look at a few that you won’t want to pass up.
The Best Motorcycle Trips for Viewing Stunning Fall Foliage
It’s hard to beat motorcycle trips where you can soak in the gorgeous colors of the fall foliage. Here are some of the best destinations for autumn rides.
Beartooth Pass starts in the town of Red Lodge, Montana and takes motorcyclists on a journey across 68 miles into Wyoming and the northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park. This is one of the most popular stretches of paved road in the Rocky Mountains among motorcycle enthusiasts. It offers stunning vistas and steep switchbacks, glacier-laden peaks, waterfalls, and expansive forests. This twisting, beautiful journey through the Rockies takes riders up to 10, 974 feet, and should definitely be added to every rider’s top 10 list.
Pig Trail Scenic Byway
The northwestern section of Arkansas is known by many riders as the mother load of awesome motorcycle roads. At the top of the heap is a 19-mile stretch of pavement called Pig Trail. It follows Arkansas 23 and passes through a twisting tunnel of foliage in the Ozark and Boston Mountains. Among the highlights of the Pig Trail is the charming Victorian town of Eureka Springs, with tons of shops, restaurants, and lodging to take advantage of. Riders love the exhilarating hairpin turns and breath-taking scenery, so we recommend that you head to the Ozarks sooner rather than later.
Tail of the Dragon
This ride is only 11 miles long, but features 318 curves. It’s a stretch of U.S. Highway 129 that borders Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee before dipping into North Carolina. Although it’s the shortest ride on this list, its thrilling curves with names like Wheelie Hell, Brake or Bust Bend, and Copperhead Corner will challenge your riding skills and the fall colors will inspire you.
Blue Ridge Parkway
This iconic ride along the spine of the Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountains actually connects Great Smoky Mountain National Park in North Carolina with Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. It’s a long 469-mile ride that is often referred to as “America’s Favorite Drive”. It boasts amazing views with plenty of places to stop, along with a diverse variety of wildlife and foliage to enjoy as you motor along in the laid-back atmosphere.
Often referred to as Twisted Sisters, this 100-mile loop through the Texas Hill country might just change your preconceptions of the Lone Star State. Three Sisters takes riders up jagged hills, through canyons, and provides ample wide open views from multiple vistas. This ride is best taken during autumn when the temperature is cooler and the trees have begun to change colors. This is as good as it gets, with clear rivers and twisty mountain curves, allowing you to experience Texas at its most beautiful. Just be aware that there aren’t many places to stop so you’ll need to gas up before hitting the road.
Pacific Coast Highway
PCH is really the quintessential American road trip. If this dream-like ride isn’t already on your bucket list, add it immediately. It stretches for 655 miles from Seattle to San Diego, California, and is truly some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. Autumn is the ultimate time to experience this ride, as the winding pavement takes you through forests ablaze with vibrant red and orange of changing leaves. You certainly don’t want to miss the 123 mile stretch of PCH between Monterey and Morro Bay, where riders will pass through Big Sur and Carmel-by-the-Sea, as well as the historic Hearst Castle. With the sun on your back and a warm breeze in your face, it’s hard to beat a trip down the PCH.
San Juan Mountain Skyway
If you’re looking for a ride that offers the ultimate scenery, the Colorado Rocky Mountains rank second-to-none, and the San Juan Mountain Skyway is considered the best of the best. This circular 236-mile path will take you through the southwestern Colorado mountain towns of Telluride, Ouray, Silverton, and Durango. The road climbs to an elevation of 14,000 feet, passing through red rock canyons, hot springs, and historic mining towns, with inspiring mountain views along the entire route. Mesa Verde National Park and Rocky Mountain National Park are especially glorious as the colors of fall arrive.
Located in the western portion of North Carolina, the Cherohala Skyway extends all the way into remote parts of Eastern Tennessee. This route doesn’t offer the extreme twists and turns of the nearby Tail of the Dragon. But considering that it’s four times longer, it’s actually preferred by most riders planning a trip in North Carolina. This easy ride is 45 miles long, making it a joy to see during the beautiful autumn months.
Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive
This one takes us through Wisconsin. Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive curves through sloping hills, steep ridges, and beautiful lakes. Kettle Moraine’s incredible views were created by glacial movement millions of years ago. The route boasts amazing foliage in fall, and the plentiful variety of restaurants and shops we give you tons to do as you enjoy the brilliant colors.
Natchez Trace Parkway
Built in the 1930s, this route unfurls for 444 miles from Nashville, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississippi. Before becoming the Natchez Trace Parkway, it served as a migratory trail for Native Americans and buffalo. The ride will take you past Civil War battle sites and ghost towns, as well as parts of the original Natchez Trace Indian Trail. Don’t worry about stops signs (there aren’t any) or trucks (they are not allowed) as you make the journey from state to state.
Peak to Peak Highway
This ride might be a mere 60 miles long, but it combines plenty of sensational twists with some of the most astounding scenery you’ll find on the planet. The mountain vistas will dazzle you as the road crests the Continental Divide in the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park. The valleys are glacier-cut and the switchbacks meander through thick forests to alpine meadows ablaze with colors from a Monet painting.
Peak to Peak extends north along Highways 72 and 7, then drops down to Estes Park. There’s plenty of wildlife to see there, including elk and moose. So keep to a safe speed, because hitting one of these huge animals will definitely ruin your day. We suggest packing your hiking books so that you can take a break from riding and walk a scenic trail inside the park. Or even take along some camping gear for weekend motorcycle trips.
Coastal Route One
U.S. Route 1 in Maine, from Brunswick to Machias is a quintessential New England experience. It’s 167 miles of paved two-lane that winds through picturesque seaside villages and a landscape dotted with historic lighthouses. The road features both sweeping curves and long open sections. Just beware of moose and other wildlife that can appear out of nowhere.
Tunnel of Trees
This motorcycle paradise is ranked among the Midwest’s most scenic roads. Located in Michigan, The Tunnel of Trees is part of the M-119, and winds under a canopy of leafy trees that burst into incredible colors in the fall. It starts in Harbor Springs and runs for 20 miles along a spectacular bluff that overlooks Lake Michigan, and features some especially sharp twists at Horseshoe Curve and Devil’s Elbow. Be sure to treat yourself to the unique food and shops along the way.
U.S. Highway 101
This highway is also known as the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway. It treats riders to a scenic tour of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. The ride from Olympia to the Oregon border is about 350 miles, and from there the road continues down the Pacific coast. You’ll get to enjoy the colors of the season as well as the colorful ocean tide pools, ancient forests, and alpine meadows, all part of the region’s diverse ecosystem.
The Most Beautiful Time of Year to Ride
Autumn is the time of year when Mother Nature is at her best. The experience of motorcycle trips in the fall is like no other. As temperatures get cooler and colors change, you’ll be inspired to pack your gear and head out to the best places to ride motorcycles.
We encourage you to take advantage of the beauty of the autumn and set out on the road to adventure. No matter where on this list you choose to explore, you’ll be making memories with family and friends that will last a lifetime. Never been on a big ride before? We’ve got you covered with 10 tips for your first cross country motorcycle trip.