Our picks for the Best Summertime Rides in Every StatePosted by Nick Urso on
We may be halfway through the summer, but there is still plenty of time for you to hit the road with your riding crew and visit some of the most scenic parts of the country while the weather is still in your favor.
No matter where you are in the United States, you can always find a motorcycle-friendly route with picturesque views of all elements of nature: oceans, lakes, rivers, national parks, hiking trails, gardens, and more.
With so many amazing places to go right at your fingertips, it can be hard to figure out the best spots to check out all on your own — and know exactly how to navigate it, and figure out what else there is to do while you’re in the area. We’ve done the work for you, researching some of America’s best motorcycle rides all over the country, so that you won’t have to waste any time before grabbing all your favorite motorcycle gear, gassing up your bike, and getting on the road!
Taking into consideration some of America’s Best Road Trips and other great road trips in the country, as well as bucket-list motorcycle rides and the most exhilarating rides, we’ve come up with this list of some of the best summertime rides in the US, listed by state:
Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee: Down south, there is only one motorcycle road trip you’ll want to take part in, and that’s the Natchez Trace Parkway. This 450-mile ride starts in Natchez, Mississippi, along the Mississippi river through Alabama, all the way to Nashville, Tennessee. There is a lot of history packed into this ride too. You’ll find yourself riding through the original Natchez Trace Indian Trail that was once used by various Native American tribes and American traders up until Mississippi steamboats were invented. During the ride, you’ll notice marked stops along the way, pointing out different things like waterfalls, Indigenous and Civil War sites, worth stopping to see.
Alaska: If you call Alaska home, take the 300-mile trip from Anchorage to Valdez for gorgeous views of glaciers and mountain ranges with peaks as high as 14,000 feet. You’ll also see the trans-Alaska pipeline, which is an oil transportation system that spans throughout the state. Once you reach Valdez, you’ll be met with a deep drop to sea level where the Keystone Canyon waterfalls are visible. Along the way, you might also get a peek at surviving members of the Ice Age, the muskoxen. These shaggy-haired animals can now only be seen in Alaska, northern Canada and Greenland.
Arizona: There is a lot to see along US Route 66 — it goes halfway across the country from Chicago to Los Angeles, after all — but it seems the 400-mile stretch in Arizona is a pretty jam-packed part of the ride. There are plenty of noteworthy architecture to see and attractions to check out, such as the Chief Yellowhorse Trading Post (to get some souvenirs from the trip to bring home or load up on snacks for the rest of the ride), the Petrified Forest National Park, where you will find a preserved section of the Old Route 66 (the only national park to have this feature), and Two Guns ghost town. Overall, Route 66 in general seems to be a great spot for motorcycle rides.
Arkansas: There is a lot to do and see around the Buffalo National River in the Ozark Mountains, especially a drive through the Ozark National Forest. If you are brave enough to tackle a road dubbed “Devil’s Elbow,” the scenery will be worth it.
California: The Pacific Coast Highway is what Travel and Leisure calls a “motorcyclist’s dream ride.” The winding road starts in Southern California and travels to the border of Oregon, with coastline views of the beaches, redwoods, and cliffs. You’ll also run into a 123-mile stretch of Big Sur between Morro Bay and Monteray, which is worth making a pitstop at some point. Safely pull over to the side of the road, stretch your legs and take in the fresh mountain and sea-salt air. Make sure to check the conditions before heading out to ride though. Summer tends to be a foggier time of year, and sometimes there are landslides that cause road closures.
Colorado: The Rocky Mountain National Park is home to the 12,183-foot-high Trail Ridge Road. This ride takes you through a pretty historic route that Native Americans made over the Continental Divide. Expect to see your share of animals like sheep, elk and deer along the way. For really experienced riders, Schofield Pass is said to be one of the hardest Rocky Mountain rides. It’s basically a road that was carved on the side of a mountain that drops straight down to the Crystal River Canyon. So, yeah, it might not be for everyone, but certainly a motorcycle rider’s bucket list item.
Florida: Visiting the Keys is a must when you’re in the Sunshine State, and if you are lucky enough to have access to a bike in this state, the ride along the 120-mile long chain is well worth doing. From Key Largo to Key West, there are tons of restaurants, beach bars, parks, and other island activities, like feeding the tarpon on Robbie’s in Islamorada, to keep the experience from being anything but boring. One of the main attractions is definitely the 7-Mile Bridge — the bridge that takes you from Florida mainland to the string of islands — and it is one of the longest bridges in the entire world.
Georgia: Not only is there great motorcycle riding in Georgia in the Chattahoochee National Forest, but there is even a lodging area dedicated to motorcyclists! Visit the area for miles of great roads to explore, including Wolf Pen Gap Road and US Route 129, and stay at Two Wheels of Suches, which was expanded and renovated in 2014 by its new, local motorcycle-enthusiast owner.
Hawaii: There is a 52-mile stretch from Kahului to Hana in Maui that is so exhilarating there are even “I survived the road to Hana” t-shirts for those who’ve made the trip. Nature is in abundance on this Hana Highway ride, especially if you make it to the Pools of Oheo at Haleakala National Park.
Idaho: The Salmon River Scenic Byway takes you through the Sawtooth Mountains and Continental Divide on the Idaho/Montana state line, where you will be met with a flowing river and maybe even meet some moose or elk along the way.
Kansas: Route 36 takes you for a ride across the Great Plains, from the Missouri River to St. Francis. This historic route used to be prime for wagon trains and the Pony Express for a short time as well.
Louisiana Bayou Cruise. Louisiana is no stranger to swamps with alligators, so be on the lookout while you take a ride along the Bayou Cruise along the Mississippi River. We hear Highway 31 is a good road, which ends at the Breaux Bridge, an excellent spot to stop for some Cajun eats. After all, this area claims to be the crawfish capital of the world.
Maine: There is no better time of year than the summer season in Maine, especially on the coast. The 260-mile Coast Highway 1 goes from Portland in Southern Maine all the way up to Calais on the Canadian border. There are a lot of opportunities for pit stops during the ride, allowing you the chance to rest your legs for a bit while enjoying the coastal views — and a lobster roll or two. There is also a 120-mile ride from Bath to Bar Harbor on US Route 1/State Route 3 that is worth exploring. During the summer, however, steer clear of Acadia National Park. Although the Cadillac Summit Road provides a route to America’s highest point on the east coast and some pretty epic views, typically the road is jam-packed with tourists during this time of year.
Massachusetts: Take a ride on Mohawk Trail from Greenfield to Williamstown, by way of the Berkshire Mountains. There are a lot of side rides to take advantage of along the way, like the 5-mile Hoosac railroad tunnel, or head up to Mount Greylock. There is also Route 6, which connects all of the quaint areas of Cape Cod.
Michigan: If you are looking for a ride that’s short and sweet, check out the 7.4-mile-long Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive on the east side of Lake Michigan. There is also the Black River Scenic Byway on the Upper Peninsula on Lake Superior.
Missouri: Take the ride from northwest St. Louis to Hannibal on this 100-mile section of Great River Road. There will be lots of scenic views of the river, and plenty of opportunities to stop along the way, especially if you like art and antiques. We hear there are at least 50 stores and galleries along this ride.
Montana: Pretty much all of the articles we found say that Going-to-the-Sun Highway in Glacier National Park is easily the best motorcycle trip, and even just the best road trip in general, in Montana. This 50-mile highway is definitely more suited for summertime rides, as snow tends to keep it closed off during the colder months. It’s built between beautiful alpine lakes, so the entire ride is bound to be scenic. You’ll go over the Continental Divide and find yourself at Logan Pass, a 6,646-foot summit where you may be able to see wild mountain goats. You may want to rev your engine to feel the wind on your back, but be wary of lots of twists and turns along the way, as well as the slower speed limits for safety reasons. You’ll want to ride slower anyway, to take in the view.
Nebraska: Did you know that a quarter of the land in Nebraska is covered in grass-filled sand dunes? Ride along Highway 2 for panoramic views of these “sandhills” as well as the Great Plains and larger-than-life pastures.
Nevada: In Nevada, one isn’t the loneliest number… It’s six. So if you want a truly open road while you ride, check out US Route 6. It’s about 250 miles from Montgomery Pass to a town named Ely in Eastern Nevada. It’s all desert land, so bring lots of water to stay hydrated.
New Hampshire: Before going on the ride up the Mount Washington Auto Road, make sure to check if the road is open — it is closed often due to weather conditions. This 6,288-foot mountain is 7.6 miles long and has been around since 1861. Summertime is the best time to go, especially for motorcyclists. There are two days during the month of June labeled”Ride to the Sky” days that are reserved for only motorcyclists.
New Mexico: 56 miles of picturesque New Mexico scenery can be found along The High Road, which goes from Sangre de Cristos to the Rocky Mountains. You’ll be met with canyon views at Truchas Peak and lots of ancient and traditional adobe architecture. Another great ride on Route 13, which starts in Shiprock and goes to the Canyon de Chelly National Monument in Arizona.
New York: Although Manhattan might be the first thing to come to mind when someone says New York, there is really so much more to this state than the hustle and bustle of NYC. Take a ride up the 8-mile State Route 431 to get into Whiteface Mountain and be prepared for a tip-top view across hundreds of square miles of upstate New York. Just a heads up, there is a toll to get onto the mountain road.
North Carolina and Virginia: Great Smoky Mountains, Shenandoah National Park, Civil War battlefields, Grandfather Mountain with its famed Mile High Swinging Bridge… The Blue Ridge Parkway is no stranger to scenic views. Starting in Afton, Virginia and going south to Cherokee, North Carolina, There are over 200 places you can pull off the road to take in the atmosphere. In the summer, you can expect to see lots of forest greenery, and be on the lookout for the 50 resident species of birds that call the parkway home. This 500-mile ride through the Appalachian Mountains can even make you rich! If you’re feeling lucky, and need a little break from riding, there are mines where visitors are allowed to pan for various gems, and yes, you could find gold too.
Oregon: For the best west coast beach scenery, Highway 101 offers about 300 miles of coastal views. You’ll have cliffs overlooking the ocean on one side, and small-town Oregon farmland on the other. The Historic Columbia River Highway is also a good ride option. This 15-mile stretch of road was built in the early 1900s, and the route has been preserved and maintained to provide a scenic route.
South Dakota: There is an annual rally in Sturgis in August that attracts thousands and thousands of motorcyclists, which is definitely a summertime event worth checking out. The Black Hills are another highlight of the area, which cover about 5,000-square-miles of land.
Tennessee: For views of the Appalachian Mountains as far as the eye can see, take the ride down Highway 143 into the Roan Highlands.
Texas: There is a lot of land to cover in Texas, but the real beauty lies between Austin and Houston on the Bluebonnet Trail, where you’ll be able to see seven lakes all connected on the Colorado River.
Utah: The sightseeing on Route 12 in Utah is some of the best you could ever hope to see. Everywhere you look on this 130-mile ride, you’ll be met with majestic mountains, parks and monuments. One of the most exhilarating scenes in the 1.9 million-acre desert Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument with lots of atmospheric views. On either end of this desert you’ll find Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks. There’s also Cedar Breaks National Monument closeby, and there is a nearby town called Panguitch if you need a break for lunch.
Vermont: Ice cream lover? Take State Route 100, which runs the entire length of the state and goes through Waterbury, home of Ben & Jerry’s! Obviously you’ll have to make a pitstop for a cold treat if you’re riding during the hot summer months. This ride will also take you alongside the Green Mountain National Forest, and you can take side roads through the Appalachian and Lincoln Gaps.
Washington: Take the Cascade Loop on US Route 2 to climb the 4,056-foot Stevens Pass and back down to the Columbia River, and check out Jackson Wilderness and Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
Wyoming: Taking Rockefeller Highway 191 from Yellowstone to Jackson Hole is filled with beautiful scenery, including the Grand Tetons. There is also the 10,947-foot-high Beartooth Pass and the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway.
No matter where you decide to ride this summer, wearing the best protective clothing should always be a top priority. Make NBT Clothing your number one choice for fashionable, functional motorcycle jackets and pants, and you will never have to worry about choosing between style and safety.
This summer, make sure to cover yourself head-to-toe in gear that is Built for the Journey and the Destination™.