There’s just something thrilling about taking a motorcycle road trip. More adventurous than one in a car (since you’re truly at the whim of the elements), it’s an opportunity to see parts of the country in a whole new way. So, tune up your bike, throw on your leather jacket, and hit the road with one of these trips.
1. Sturgis, South Dakota
Even if you don’t know anything about motorcycles, you’ve probably heard of Sturgis, the annual motorcycle rally in the Black Hills of South Dakota that draws more than half a million riders. Located about 30 miles east of the South Dakota/Wyoming border, Interstate 90 leads you straight there. Some opt to bring their bike in a trailer and ride once they’ve arrived, while others ride the whole way there. Once you’ve gotten settled in Sturgis, enjoy your pick of many scenic day trips: exploring along Needles Highway (SD 87), the historic Western town of Deadwood, a short 20-minute ride from Sturgis, or of course, Mount Rushmore.
2. Acadia National Park, Maine
For a winding route that includes rugged coastline with expansive views as well as quaint towns, check out Maine, which has more than 3500 miles of coastline to explore. Begin with breakfast in Bar Harbor, then start your road trip on Park Loop Road, the main thoroughfare out of town. Take your time and make frequent stops to take in the spectacular landscape, like the dense forests that seem to go right to the edge of the craggy cliffs and crashing waves. Turn off and weave your way up to the top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point along the northeast coast, where, if it’s clear, you can see all the way to the Porcupine Islands. Pull off anywhere you like for a picnic lunch, or stop at the Jordan Pond House, famous for tea and popovers in a breathtaking setting inside Acadia National Park. Speaking of food, don’t forget to fill up on classic Maine specialties such as clams, mussels, and of course, lobster.
3. Road to Hana, Maui, Hawaii
If the idea of combining a tropical vacation with a motorcycle road trip sounds appealing, consider the road to Hana in Maui. This ride is all about the journey. It’s only 52 miles, but it boasts more than 600 curves. Rent a bike at Island Riders or at the Harley-Davidson Authorized Rental location inside Maui Motorcycle Company. Once you’ve secured your trusty steed, load up your gear and head out. The Road to Hana is definitely famous for a reason — beautiful twists and turns, lush landscape, and the pristine black sand beach at Waianapanapa State Park, to name a few — and these attractions have made it quite a touristy route. Be prepared to take the road slowly since there will likely be plenty of people on the same path as you.
4. Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains
If driving slowly and taking in the views sounds like your type of ride, but flying all the way to Hawaii isn’t an option, stay in the contiguous U.S. and tackle some different winding roads along the Blue Ridge Parkway though the Great Smoky Mountains. Boasting more than 460 miles without a single stop sign, this gorgeous route is well-known amid motorcycle-riding insiders and for good reason: the lack of traffic lights and tight corners through sweeping vistas is hard to beat. Since it is considered the pinnacle of spots to ride, it is pretty popular — meaning you’ll encounter lots of fellow riders along the roads and likely be greeted warmly by locals. Plus, the speed limit of 45mph along the entire Parkway ensures you’ll truly have a chance to enjoy the ride.
Of course, before taking any road trip, make sure your motorcycle is washed and tuned up and your insurance is up to date. And it goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: wear your helmet and other body protective gear, observe traffic laws, and don’t forget to stop to take in the view!