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Summer in the mountains is one of the most beautiful times of the year and it’s no wonder people flock to North Carolina to take it all in. Motorcycle enthusiasts love it, too, because out of all the states in the U.S., there are some seriously great motorcycle rides in North Carolina.

The mountains, waterfalls and scenic views make North Carolina a popular destination for motorcycle riders. Some of the great motorcycles rides in North Carolina include:

  1. Blue Ridge Parkway
  2. Dragon’s Tail
  3. Land of the Waterfalls Loop Ride
  4. Horse Cove Road
  5. Copperhead Loop
  6. Cullasaja Gorge

Keep reading to learn about the best motorcycle rides in the country, all of the great motorcycle rides in North Carolina, where to stay, tips for riding long distances on a motorcycle, and more.

Best Motorcycle Rides in The U.S.

It’s no secret that some of the best motorcycle rides in the U.S. are in the mountains. The twists and turns make the ride exciting and sometimes, a bit of a challenge, and the mountains offer some seriously gorgeous views.

Here is a list of some of the best motorcycle rides in the U.S.A., from sea to shining sea:

  1. Natchez Trace Parkway
  2. Coastal Route One in Maine
  3. Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina
  4. Grand Staircase—Escalante National Monument Ride
  5. Tail of the Dragon in North Carolina
  6. Beartooth Highway
  7. Waterfall Loop Ride in North Carolina
  8. Pacific Coast Highway
  9. Tunnel of Trees Road
  10. The Devil’s Highway
  11. Copperhead Loop in North Carolina
  12. Cherohala Skyway in North Carolina

Tips for Riding a Motorcycle Long Distance

There are few things as blissful as a scenic motorcycle ride through the United States and being well prepared for your trip will go a long way. You want to feel good and energized so you can be fully present and enjoy every minute of your adventure. It’s even better if you know you have a comfortable and luxurious vacation rental waiting for you.

Here are some tips and tricks for riding a motorcycle long distance:

  • Double and trickle check that you brought your spare key with you
  • Bring a backpack hydration system with you
  • Put your things in saddlebags to keep them dry by using trash compactor bags. They’re thicker and waterproof.
  • Use a daily envelope system to keep everything together. Plan out your trip in advance with the places you want to stop at each day and put all of your required documents in an envelope marked for the day. When you get to your final destination in North Carolina, you’ll have a full vacation rental to look forward to.
  • Make sure you have AMA Roadside Assistance. It is always good to have on hand.
  • Give your bike a thorough inspection each morning. Think oil, air pressure and other general upkeep.
  • Invest in earplugs. This will help reduce wind noise and make your ride a little easier and more comfortable.
  • Be sure to keep track of your location. Look out for road signs, town names, interstate names and more. If there is an emergency, someone will need to know where you are.
  • This isn’t an endurance run. Take your time and rest if you need to.
  • Bring a packable motorcycle cover with you to keep your bike clean and dry.
  • Think about when you eat breakfast and dinner. Doing these things around sunrise and sunset will help you save some time in the morning and night so you’re not riding into the sun.

10 Best Motorcycle Roads in North Carolina

10 Best Motorcycle Roads in North Carolina

With the majestic mountains and access to the Blue Ridge Parkway, it’s no wonder that there are some pretty great motorcycle rides in North Carolina.

Here are the 10 best motorcycle rides in North Carolina:

  1. Cold Mountain Loop
  2. Land of the Waterfalls Loop Ride
  3. Cherohala Skyway
  4. Tail of the Dragon
  5. Copperhead Loop
  6. Blue Ridge Parkway
  7. Cherokee National Forest
  8. Pisgah National Forest
  9. The Hellbender
  10. The Rattler

Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina Scenic Drives

The best part about motorcycle rides through North Carolina is every drive is scenic. Some reasons why there are so many great motorcycle rides in North Carolina are because the mountain roads not only give riders exciting twists and turns but every ride in this article features outstanding scenic views. You cannot go wrong.

But, we’ll let you in on a secret. Western North Carolina is in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau region is home to some serious mountain views and one of the only temperate rainforests in the U.S. If you start or end here, you’re in for some of the best scenic rides in North Carolina.

Best Motorcycle Rides in Western North Carolina

Cruise down the open road and enjoy the sweeping curves and twists and turns that only come with the mountains. Sometimes, it’s better to take in the scenery from two wheels. Feel the wind in your hair, smell the fresh mountain air and take it all in. When you’re on the bike, you’re immersed in the trip. There’s nothing separating you from your surroundings.

Here are the best motorcycle rides in Western North Carolina. These either start in Western North Carolina or pass through this part of the state:

  1. Blue Ridge Parkway
  2. Copperhead Loop
  3. Dragon’s Tail
  4. Land of the Waterfalls Loop Ride
  5. Horse Cove Road
  6. Cullasaja Gorge

Land of The Waterfalls Loop Ride

Land of The Waterfalls Loop Ride

You’ll find the Land of the Waterfalls Loop Ride near the southern part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. You’ll see more than a dozen waterfalls and you’ll love the long, scenic ride through the Western North Carolina region.

This is one of the great motorcycle rides in North Carolina because it gives you a taste of one of the most beautiful parts of the state.

Here are some steps to navigating one of the great motorcycle rides in North Carolina:

  • The Land of the Waterfalls Loop Ride begins in Maggie Valley at milepost 455.7
  • From there, head west on Soco Road/U.S. 19 to Cherokee
  • Go by Cherokee and into Bryson City, home of the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. Cherokee is a great place to stop to get to know the Cherokee Indian heritage and history.
  • After you get to Bryson City, you’ll turn right when you reach the stop light downtown. Continue on U.S. 19.
  • Next, you’ll get on the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway until you get to the exit for Alarka Road. The Great Smoky Mountains Expressway is perfect for sightseeing and Alarka Road is a good place to stop for gas.
  • You’ll want to veer left to stay on U.S. 19 and enter the Nantahala River Gorge, part of the Nantahala National Forest.
  • Turn left onto Wayah Road and follow it along the course of the river to the alpine Nantahala Lake. You’ll cruse along the top of the mountain then back down a long stretch of road through the national forest.
  • You’ll get to a stop sign for Old Murphy Road and you’ll want to turn left. This will bring you into Franklin
  • Follow the signs for N.C. 28 and turn right. Follow N.C. 28 into the Cullasaja River Gorge. Pay attention to the four waterfalls you’ll see along the way. This is one of the prettiest parts of the Land of the Waterfalls Loop Ride.
  • Turn right into Highlands and take U.S. 64 east through Sapphire Valley
  • Then you’ll get into Cashiers. Continue onto U.S. 64 and pass over Toxaway Falls
  • Highlands, Sapphire Valley and Cashiers are all part of the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau. If you’ve never explored this part of North Carolina, it might be worth it to stay and take in what this part of Western North Carolina has to offer. It’s been a summer vacation destination for centuries because of its climate, scenery and sense of community.
  • From here, continue onto U.S. 64 east and look out for the left turn onto N.C. 215
  • C. 215 may be a bit of a challenging climb to reach the highest part of the Blue Ridge Parkway, but the views are worth it.
  • Get back on the Parkway at Beech Gap Milepost 423.3 and ride towards Cherokee. The remaining stretch on the Blue Ridge Parkway features Waterrock Knob, which is the highest point. Look out for other overlooks along this part of the ride, too.

What Is the Tail of the Dragon Motorcycle Ride?

The Tail of the Dragon is also known as the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap or The Dragon. It’s a great option for those who like a challenge. There are 318 curves in 11 miles, so it’s anything but boring.

A couple things that set the Tail of the Dragon a part is the road is bordered by the Cherokee National Forest and the Great Smoky Mountains. It also doesn’t have any intersecting roads to break up travel. It’s a road built for sightseers.

  • The Tail of the Dragon begins near Fontana Dam and Robbinsville at the intersection of N.C. 28 and U.S. 129. It takes riders along the southwest boundary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  • This route ends at the Tabcat Creek Bridge in Tennessee
  • This road doesn’t have as many curves as the Land of the Waterfalls Loop Ride and the speed limit is 30 mph. Tail of the Dragon is more of a sightseeing adventure, but that doesn’t make it any less popular.
  • The Tail of the Dragon introduces you to the part of North Carolina near the Smoky Mountains, but there is so much more to discover. North Carolina is a diverse state and there is a lot of serious ground to cover. To see more, visit the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau for small-town charm, luxury vacation rentals, mountains, waterfalls and more.

Where to Stay During your North Carolina Motorcycle Ride

Where to Stay During your North Carolina Motorcycle Ride

Now that you know more about some of the great motorcycle rides in North Carolina, you can start planning your next epic adventure on two wheels.

Whether the Western North Carolina Highlands-Cashiers Plateau area is your final destination or you’re looking for somewhere new to discover and explore, you’ll enjoy staying in a Landmark vacation rental on the Plateau.

Landmark gives you options. Choose from a single-family home that can accommodate a group of riders, a cozy mountain cabin big enough for one or two people, or anything in between. Browse our available vacation homes at your convenience and don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. We hope you get to explore our slice of rustic paradise. We love sharing our home with our guests and helping them plan the ultimate Western North Carolina vacation.

Landmark has vacation rentals in five unique locations on the Plateau:

  1. Lake Glenville
  2. Cashiers
  3. Sapphire
  4. Lake Toxaway
  5. Highlands