Four wheels move the body. Two wheels move the soul.
When it comes to riding bikes, there’s no other sensation quite like it. It’s the experience of complete openness and freedom on the road. If you’re curious why your dog rides with its head out of the window in the car, try asking why a biker rides. It’s a ‘live to ride and ride to live’ type of lifestyle. The most important thing to remember about a ride is that: it’s not about the destination but the road in between. The United States is full of scenic highways and byways that prove to the soul: when you venture into a new journey, you’ll always come back with something new. In honor of National Geographic Channel’s new series, Let It Ride, here are some of the top 10 U.S. rides of a lifetime that are not only filled with spectacular views but the twists, turns, and smooth roads that keeps the paint up and the rubber down.
The Dragon (Tennessee to North Carolina)
This 11 mile stretch of road situated between Blount County, Tennessee and Swain County, North Carolina has an unofficial population of 6 and contains not only some of the most challenging curves on the east coast, but also a motorcycle resort for weary two-wheeled travelers. An internationally popular hot spot for motorcycle enthusiasts located in an area known as Deals Gap, The Dragon is home to 318 curves – some so thrilling that they’ve even earned their own name. Take a ride along The Dragon’s ‘Hog Pen Bend’ or the ‘Gravity Cavity’ but proceed with caution or you could end up on the Deals Gap “Tree of Shame”, a collection of parts of motorcycles that were tamed by the dragon.
Route 66 (Chicago to Santa Monica)
It’s the ultimate Americana highway. The 2,200 mile journey across America is a staple on any rider’s bucket list for obvious reasons. It’s a United States historic highway with no shortage of scenery, serving as the primary path for the brave souls who migrated to the west during the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s and lined with historic features the entire way. A permanent fixture in American Culture, the historic highway has been featured in numerous films and novels. There are plenty of biker-friendly stops along the way with a seemingly endless supply of pie, proving the old biker adage, “pie and coffee are as important as petrol.”
Oversea’s Highway US 1 (Key Largo to Key West)
From the back country of Route 66 to the endless blue of the Florida pan-handle, the Oversea’s Highway is not a trip to be missed. If a rider has had their fill of thrills on the mountain roads, it may be time to cruise down ocean-lined byway of both the Atlantic and the Gulf Coast. A narrow 100 mile stretch of road from Key Largo to Key West nested atop an ocean of blue and live reefs, the Oversea’s Highway is connected by a series of several bridges, the most impressive continues on a stretch of 6 miles. Of course, don’t forget the sunscreen and save the pina colada’s until the hog is parked.
Ranch Road FM170 (Terlingua to Candelaria, Texas)
Few riders get the privilege of gracing this road with their presence due solely to its remoteness in the big land of Texas; though it’s no mistake when riders embark upon a journey down Ranch Road. One of the most scenic routes in Texas, Ranch Road passes by the historic ruins of an adobe Catholic church, many American ghost towns, and rambles alongside the Rio Grande River. The roads are smooth as they wind along the Big Bend Ranch and Chihuahuan Desert with it’s mountains, canyons, and badlands.
Beartooth Highway US 212 (Yellowstone, Wyoming)
This highway boasts some of the highest points and most challenging contours of any U.S. mountain pass. Beartooth Highway runs in the Northern Rockies, winding and reeling up to Beartooth Pass at 10,947 feet. There are glacier-laced mountain tops, dense forests, and stunning waterfalls all along the route for any outdoor enthusiasts. One of the densest, most rugged mountain passes in the lower 48, the highway passes through Shoshone National Forest, Custer National Forest, and near the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness as it weaves it’s way through the mountains.
Utah Route 12 (Capitol Reef to Bryce Canyon)
Another state highway that has been officially designated an All-American Road. Route 12 unfolds 124 miles of Utah highways located between two awe-evoking state parks, Capital Reef National Park and Bryce Canyon. Sandstone rock formations that are reminiscent of fantastical sci-fi movies on Mars, deep blue lakes that seem to dive down forever, pine forests, and canyons all line the historic highway of Route 12. The curves take their traveler’s to unexpected landmarks such as the Dixie National Forest, the Grand Staircase-Escalante, and the National Monument.
Great River Road (Minnesota to Louisiana)
This series of roads starting at the Itasca State Park in Minnesota blends into a singular path known as the Great River Road Hwy 61, running all the way down to Jackson, Louisiana. Originating in 1938, the 2,340 mile road drifts along the Mississippi River from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Locals from each of the 10 states that line the GRR61 claim their turf to be the best stretch, but at any section the highway is lined with lush wildlife native to the region that is easy on the eyes. From the forests of Minnesota to the Swamps of Louisiana, a rider is sure to get their heavy dose of the great American outdoors.
Pacific Coast Highway (Oregon to California)
This road will put any rider in a California dreamin’ daze. All the way from Astoria, Oregon winding down to San Juan Capistrano, California, there is a huge variety of legendary stops all along this coastal highway. From the redwood forests to seaside towns, this road is a Pacific coast historic journey of a lifetime. Wind along with the cliffs and bypasses and rest along frequent pit-stops to take in the local scenery like Big Sur, the Olympic Peninsula, and beautiful coastline from Seattle all the way down to San Diego. Not only does this highway connect the Pacific coastal towns and communities, but it also provides access to beaches all along the coast. This route is 1700 miles of the road daring you to take in every minute.
Don’t miss the Let It Ride series premiere August 14th on National Geographic Channel
Check out the guys from Let It Ride at Daytona Beach Bike Week below.