When bikers think of the ultimate motorcycle tour, odds are they cover the famous gatherings, like Sturgis and Daytona. However, the United States offers so much more. If you like technical rides, wide beautiful or varied scenery, one of a kind stops, or all of the above, the USA is a huge country with a lot to offer motorcyclists.
With all the wide open roads, vast vistas, thousands of scenic routes, and surprisingly low traffic density, it’s no wonder that bikers from other countries routinely make the trip to the USA, just to get some epic seat time. Foreign motorcycle enthusiasts might not speak English, but the enthusiasm of a motorcyclist needs no words and crosses cultural divides. Bikers speak a universal language of passion. Fire up and come along on one of these great tours that draw everyone from the locals down the street to bikers from the other side of the world.
Stretching from Chicago, Illinois to the west coast in Santa Monica, California, the “Mother Road” still offers one of the best rides in the country. From massive modern cities to charming small towns, forgotten Americana and remote rural wonders, this road has it all.
Originally a network of state roads, the entire Route 66 tour covers almost 2,500 miles over 8 states. While it was federally de-funded a few decades back, states and towns took the initiative, and today most of Route 66 is a biker’s dream ride. For your viewing pleasure, there are wide open plains, desert high and lowlands, canyons, mountain foothills, and some scattered forests. The elevation changes wildly, from a low of 3,800 feet, to over 7,200 in just New Mexico. This isn’t on the modern US Highway System, so Route 66 is much less traveled leaving those unbelievable perfect views unobstructed by heavy traffic. Ride in the early mornings while heading west and you are greeted by a sunrise that seems exclusively for you and the great wide open.
If you need a pit stop or some grub, there are countless small towns and kitschy travel stops to refuel you or your bike. The title “World Famous” is attached to everything from smoked turkey sandwiches to hot dogs on a stick. The architecture is classic and can be seen in the Chain of Rocks Bridge and the Arcadia Round Barn. Stay in teepee at the Wigwam Hotel or visit the truly world famous Cadillac Ranch. For the inquisitive types, there are no less than 10 Route 66 museums along the route, uniting the mythos, history, and tchotchkes into probably the most accurate look at the unique culture of the Mother Road. For sheer distance, variety of scenery, and American history, it’s hard to beat a tour of Route 66.
If you are looking for peace and quiet after a long day on the open road, consider visiting a National Park. They are great rides, admittance is cheap, and even the drive there can be gorgeous.
Yellowstone National Park, located in the northwest corner of Wyoming, is one of the most naturally mystical places left on Earth. Over two million acres display everything from prairies to deep forests and dozens of hot springs, geysers, and waterfalls.
Yosemite National Park is a quarter million acres of pristine wilderness in eastern central California. This World Heritage Site has an abundance of wildlife, massive Redwoods, sheer cliffs, and unbelievably clear water. Your bike will never look better than with Yosemite in the background.
Deciduous trees cover millions of square miles in the New England, Midwest, and mid-Atlantic regions. With the first hints of the coming winter, the trees turn a blaze of brilliant red, gold, yellow, and sometimes purple. This makes for a picturesque drive through the thousands of miles of side roads. New England is the oldest part of the USA so, unlike most modern American roads (flat, straight), these back roads are twisty and technical. With lots of hills from Maine over to Michigan and down to Kentucky, this is perfect riding country for weeks of engaging back roads.
Remember, it’s not all about the equipment. Whether you are riding a Street 500 or a CVO Road Glide Ultra, the point of a motorcycle road trip isn’t even really about the motorcycle, but the trip, the people, and the experience of a lifetime. Several touring companies offer incredible tour packages for any type of biker, over any kind of terrain. With translators to assist foreign riders, you can meet up with local motorcycle clubs and join them in traversing little known back-country roads or legendary motorcycle gatherings. Swap stories, advice, and patches, over barbecue and beer with your new friends. Shake things up in your life and go on one of these great motorcycle tours whether organized or on your own. Or bring a friend to ride with you, and share the memories that will last a lifetime.