Motorcycle Loop ride near Floyd, VA

Motorcycle Loop ride near Floyd, VA

Downtown Floyd, VA

Downtown Floyd, VA

This motorcycle loop ride near Floyd, Virginia intersects the Blue Ridge Parkway at two points. You can do either half (north or south of the parkway) or the whole 34.3 miles.

The small and historic town of Floyd, Virginia is located about 5 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway, about 160 miles into the 469 mile ride. Noted for it’s celebration of local music, the picturesque shops, and a few very good places to eat and stay, Floyd makes a nice layover on your Blue Ridge Parkway motorcycle tour.

Southern Virginia Countryside

Southern Virginia Countryside

This motorcycle loop ride gives you a nice taste of the variety of great roads found in the southern Virginia region which surround the town of Floyd. Rolling hills, pastoral farms, lazy rivers and streams predominate the landscape. You’ll find both relaxed cruising, tight and twisty climbs, and tiny little back roads sneaking through the hills. It’s an opportunity to slip into town and refuel your bike and belly, or make a spicy diversion off the relaxed riding of the park road.

Shooting Creek Road

Shooting Creek Road

Directions (clockwise):

Starting in downtown Floyd where VA 8 and US 221 cross, follow US 221 north 2.5 miles to reach Shooting Creek Road (VA 860).

Shooting Creek Road is a tiny back road which leads out through the farmland then into the woods as it traces along the waterway. If you watch for unpaved VA 690 at a sharp curve, you’ll see the Pine Creek Mill, a nice stop for a photo.

Pine Creek Mill

Pine Creek Mill

Shooting Creek Road crosses Franklin Pike then continues south to reach the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is poorly marked at the parkway. Cross the park road and continue south to reach VA 40.

VA 40 has both easy cruising and some very tight curves as it takes you east to Woolwine to meet VA 8.

VA 8 will take you north climbing to reach the Blue Ridge Parkway at Tuggles Gap. You’ll find both easy cruising and some exciting hairpins are you reach the crest. Pass under the parkway and continue back into Floyd.

Motorcycle loop ride map near Floyd, VA

Click for full size

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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed, comprehensive, up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

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3 Days on A Race Bike – Enough?

3 days with a Ducati Panigale 1199 - Angeles crest Highway, CA

3 days with a Ducati Panigale 1199 – Angeles crest Highway, CA

I just spent the better part of 3 days with a Ducati Panigale 1199 in California. It was kind of a bucket list thing, I wanted the experience. Would I buy one? Only if I win the lottery.

The good, bad, and beautiful –

Wayne The Rock Store, Mulholland Highway, CA

Wayne at The Rock Store, Mulholland Highway, CA

It was loud, even with earplugs, but in a way the best rock-and-roll should be loud to be done right. The Ducati sound is so sweet, so iconic, it just seemed the way it’s supposed to be – like the potato-potato of a Harley, it is a musical experience that reaches deep into your soul and makes you feel like Superman. All I could think about was “The cops are gonna hear me coming”.

Wayne - Mulholland Highway, CA

Wayne – Mulholland Highway, CA

It was more comfortable than I expected, but stiffer than previous race bikes I’ve been on. The body position is not so extreme it puts too much pressure on your hands, legs are a bit cramped, but overall it did not tire me out, I can ride it for days. The suspension was designed for speeds never attained on the street, ideal for the triple digits, but brutal on a normal road. I once missed a freeway exit as I was chattering so harshly on a rough section I couldn’t read the signs. You must ride like a jockey to see where you’re going if the road gets rough.

Andy and Jackie on Gibraltar Road, east of Santa Barbara - View of the Pacific fog.

Andy and Jackie on Gibraltar Road, east of Santa Barbara – View of the Pacific fog.

It’s hot as hell if you’re not clipping along at 70 mph+. The heat coming off that highly tuned engine cooks your thighs, butt and all the sensitive spots, especially at low speeds. Combined with a thin hard seat I swear I’m bruised down below. Freeway traffic demands lane-splitting just to keep moving and tolerate the burn.

East Camino Cielo Road - A stop to savor the views

East Camino Cielo Road – A stop to savor the views

It’s not the best canyon carver. This bike is made for the velvet-smooth high speed sweeping turns of a race track. It doesn’t fall into tight turns, you don’t flick it about. It can cut through the tight stuff but you’ve got set up properly and be smooth as glass as it will easily run away from you if you’re not focused. You can get in trouble in a blink on this thing.

Jackie on E. Camino Cielo Rd - sea fog to the left of the crest, the hot inland to the right.

Jackie on E. Camino Cielo Rd – sea fog to the left of the crest, the hot inland to the right.

Which brings us to the best part – the power seems infinite. It’s always there. More than you need. I never got confident enough to really let it rip – it was ripping at mid range. Hitting the upper revs was insane. With a quick-shifter, keeping the front wheel on the ground in the first 3 gears required gentle use of the throttle even in “Sport Mode”. I never switched to “Race Mode”. Enough was enough. I was suitably impressed.

Wayne and Jackie at Cold Springs Tavern

Wayne and Jackie at Cold Springs Tavern

Would I rent one again from RentADucati.com? Maybe. I barely missed getting tickets this time. Coming down off the Angeles Crest Highway (Route 2) at twice the speed limit I made a snap decision to pull off and get a photo just before a trooper rounded the curve ahead of me. I would have been nailed. Coming up behind a car on the Maricopa Highway (Route 33) east of Ojia saved me a second time. My luck and license wouldn’t last with a bike like this. But on rare occasions, maybe I’ll do it one more time!

Wayne and Jackie in Santa Barbara

Wayne and Jackie in Santa Barbara

Special thanks to Andy, our companion, photographer, and a great rider! He made this trip come together.

I can't thank Andy enough for making this trip so outstanding!

I can’t thank Andy enough for making this trip so outstanding!

For more info see –  http://www.rentaducati.com

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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed, comprehensive, up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Smoky Mountain Waterfalls Motorcycle Ride

Tour more than 1 dozen roadside waterfalls on this long and scenic day ride.

Smoky Mountains Waterfalls Motorcycle Ride

Smoky Mountains Waterfalls Motorcycle Ride – click for large view

Overview: 

Start in Maggie Valley. Follow US 19 west to 441 at Cherokee. Soco Falls on route. Follow US 441 south to Franklin, then US 64 / NC 28 to Highlands. 4 falls along road. Highlands to Cashiers on US 64, then loop south on 107 / 281 to see 2 more. Continue east on US 64, detour south of Brevard then onto US 276 to the Blue Ridge Parkway (3 more) Ride the Parkway to NC 215 then follow it back to US 276 and into Maggie Valley.

Roadside waterfalls abound for the motorcycle rider

Discover the hidden secrets on your motorcycle travels in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains

Detailed Route:

Distance: 190 miles.

Time: All day ride.

Easy to moderate difficulty

Before you go:

  • Exercise caution! – These are roadside waterfalls, some which are on busy roads with blind curves and limited pull-outs. Pull out with confidence and vigor.
  • Look but don’t touch – Dangerous conditions lurk around waterfalls. Visitors are killed every year. Very slippery rocks. Powerful currents. Deadly drops.
  • Plan on more time – Several waterfalls require short walks to get the views. Allow time for multiple stops and photos.

Route:

Photo-Bubbling-Springs-Branch-on-NC 215

Easy to find Bubbling Springs Branch is on a sharp curve where it flows under NC 215.

Start in Maggie Valley. Follow US 19 west.

4.1 mi Pass under Blue Ridge Parkway

5.7 miSoco Falls. Gravel pull off on left with small signs. Downhill section of road on a curve. Can’t be seen from road. Path and boardwalk lead to 2 converging waterfalls.

15.2 mi Turn left @ traffic light at casino for shortcut to US 441 south. Junction US 19 and Casino Road.

16 mi Turn left @ traffic light onto US 441 south. Junction Casino Road and US 441.

20.1 mi Follow highway 23/74 east. Junction US 441 and highway 23/74 exit 74.

27.3 mi Follow US 441 south. Junction US 441 and highway 23/74 exit 81..

45.3 mi Exit US 441, follow US 64 / NC 28 east. Junction US 441 and US 64 / NC 28 at Franklin.

54.4 mi – Cullasaja Falls. Visible from road on right. Limited and hazardous parking near guardrail on sharp curve.

57.3 mi Quarry Falls – Visible from road on right. Long paved pulloff on right side of road.

58.2 mi – Dry Falls – Not visible from road. Paved parking on right with signs. Short trail to waterfall. Path continues behind waterfall.

60.8 mi – Bridal Veil Falls – Visible from road on left. Paved pull off. Drive behind the waterfall for a photo.

Motorcycles at Cullasaja Falls in North Carolina's "Land of the Waterfalls"

With permission granted, I stand ready to help you have the ride of your life! Just say YES!

63.5 mi Turn left @ traffic light to continue on US 64. Junction US 64 and NC 28 downtown Highlands.

73.7 mi Turn right @ traffic light onto NC 107 south. Junction US 64 and NC 107 in Cashiers.

77.1 miSilver Run Falls – Not visible from road. Poorly marked gravel pull off on left. Trail leads into woods. 1/4 mile walk.

83 mi Turn left onto Wiginton Scenic Byway. Junction Wiginton Scenic Byway and NC 107.

85.2 mi Turn left @ stop sign to head north on NC 281 (Whitewater Falls Road). Junction Wiginton Scenic Byway and NC 281.

87.6 miWhitewater Falls State Park. Not visible from road. $2 fee. 1/4 mile paved walk. Highest waterfall in the east.

94.9 mi Turn right @ stop sign to continue east on US 64. Junction NC 281 and US 64.

97.1Toxaway Falls – Not visible from road. Road crosses dam with waterfall below. Difficult to get a good view. Park at Toxaway Village or along road on dam.

105 mi Turn right @ junction US 64 and US 178 at Rosman.

106 mi Turn right @ traffic light in Rosman, exit town.

107 mi Turn left onto East Fork Road. Junction US 178 (Pickins Highway) and East Fork Road.

110 mi Turn right @ stop sign  to keep on East Fork Road. Junction East Fork Road and Walnut Hollow Road.

119 mi Turn left @ stop sign to go north on US 276 (Greenville Highway). Junction East Fork Road and US 276.

120 miConnestee Falls – Not visible from road. Large sign, trailhead at end of parking lot. Short walk to overlook where 2 waterfalls converge.

126 mi Turn right @ traffic light in Brevard onto US 64. Junction US 276 and US 64.

129 mi Turn left @ traffic light onto US 276 north. Junction US 64 / US 276 / NC 280.

135 miLooking Glass Falls – Visible from road. Large paved parking along road on right. Boardwalk to base of falls.

Photo-whitewater-falls-nc

Whitewater Falls, one of the highest in the east.

137 mi – Sliding Rock – Not visible from road. Fee area $2. Paved parking lot. Bathers slide down waterfall.

144 mi Turn right onto parkway ramp. Turn left at the stop sign to head south (towards Cherokee) on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Junction US 276 and Blue Ridge Parkway.

148.5 mi – Graveyard Fields – Not visible from road. 1/3 mile paved walk to top of Second Falls. Trails continue to 2 others.

156 mi Exit Parkway. Turn left (towards Canton) on NC 215. Junction Blue Ridge Parkway and NC 215.

158 mi –  Flat Laurel Creek – Visible from road. Hard to find. Look for 3rd gravel pull out on right on the only straight section of road.

160 miBubbling Springs Branch – Visible from road on left. River plunges beneath the roadway on a hairpin curve. Small unpaved parking are just beyond.

174 mi Turn left @ stop sign to follow US 276 into Waynesville.. Junction NC 215 / US 276.

180 mi Turn right @ traffic light in Waynesvile.. Pass through town.

Junction US 276 and Main Street.

181mi Turn left @ traffic light. Junction Main Street and US 276 (Russ Avenue).

183 mi Turn left @ traffic light to return to Maggie Valley. Junction US 276 and US 19.

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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed, comprehensive, up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

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Motorcycle Loop Ride near Hot Springs, NC

French Broad River in Hot Springs, NC

French Broad River

The small historic town of Hot Springs, NC, has long been a familiar pit stop for mountain area motorcycle riders. It is situated north and west of Asheville near the border with Tennessee on the banks of the French Broad River. The town is popular with rafters and hikers, has couple biker friendly places to eat, and there are natural hot springs to soak in at the spa.

Hot Springs, NC

Hot Springs, NC

Motorcycle riders are attracted to this area for the wonderful and tricky two lane back roads which thread through the surrounding mountains. The newfound popularity of NC 209 a.k.a. “The Rattler” as one of the top 10 motorcycle rides in the Blue Ridge Mountains is bringing more motorcycle touring enthusiasts to discover this playground of nice biker roads.

Hot Springs to Flag Pond Motorcycle Ride Map

The map shows a motorcycle loop ride that takes you across the border to Flag Pond, TN., then loops you back to Hot Springs.

  • Leaving Hot Springs, go east on US 25 / 70 making the gentle climb then descent to the junction with NC 208 at Hurricane.
  • Turn north (left) and follow NC 208 along the winding river. As you come to the junction of NC 208 and NC 212 note the small bridge over the creek. Guntertown Road is on the right just before the bridge, NC 212 is at the stop sign once you cross the bridge.
  • The north leg ( NC 212 / TN 352 ) of the triangle shaped motorcycle ride is a pretty nice cruise following along creeks and streams for the most part with a few tricky curves thrown in to keep you on your toes.
  • The east leg ( TN 23 / US 23 ) is pretty relaxed riding, there are a couple passing zones on the long inclines. You’ll want to keep an eye out for the turn onto Big Laurel Road, then hold on for the wild ride back.
  • Big Laurel Road is the south leg of the loop and full of tricky curves. Be alert for scattered debris in a couple of the hairpins around bluff faces. Walnut Creek Road spurs off to the south, be sure you veer in the correct direction when you reach this junction to remain on Big Laurel Road.
  • Guntertown Road leads you east to the small bridge on NC 208. Retrace your path to return to Hot Springs.
Motorcycles on Big Laurel Road

Big Laurel Road

The roads in this area can be extremely challenging and tight. If you prefer an easier course, the ride to Flag Pond on NC 212 / TN 352 can be done out-and-back. There is a large pull off riders use for a break at the junction of TN 352 & TN 23.

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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed, comprehensive, up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

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Motorcycle Awareness Month – The Wrong Way Down

Motorcycle Awareness Month – The Wrong Way Down

A controversial viewpoint that looks at motorcycle safety from the other side of the looking glass

I’m a lifelong motorcyclist. I’m a professional rider, I earn my bread from the seat of my bike. I been a trainer, had training, been all over the country and overseas, led tours, coordinated events and rallies, read the books and every accident study I can get to. I’ve had my share of spills, close calls, and mistakes and I’ve got the scars to remember them by.

May is motorcycle awareness monthMotorcycle Awareness Month doesn’t even make the list of  “commemorative months” on wikipedia and is about as effective as “National Ice Cream Month” (which does make the list) – It’s the wrong approach to the problem of how to be safer riding a motorcycle on our increasing dangerous roads.

Image - Watch out for Motorcycles

False Hope

“Watch our for Bikers” is wishful thinking. It puts the responsibility on someone else – “You need to watch out for me”. Believing that little yellow diamond is going to penetrate the brain of a pony-tailed soccer mom with a minivan full of kids rushing to get to the little  league game is quite a leap of faith. Or that the road warrior salesman is going to suddenly take his mind off his next meeting as he’s fighting his way through the traffic on his way to Des Moines. That the old codger in the Buick with a line of traffic a half mile behind him is going to suddenly wake up and recognize there are other vehicles on the road? That teen is gonna put away the cell phone and start driving the car? Not my experieince. Not the real world. YOU need to watch out for YOU.

Even if you could get through and alert every other driver on the road you’re not going to change the laws of physics. Motorcycles are just plain hard to see because they are the smallest vehicle out on the roads. They are comparatively rare so people don’t expect them. They are easy to lose track of surrounded by so many larger vehicles. Every one of us knows a driver can look right at you and not see you coming. Accept it – you’re virtually invisible to others the road.

motorcycle-wreck-maggieThe “motorcycle awareness” that will keep you alive longest is the awareness that you are responsible for your own safety on the road. You need to up your riding game. Distracted driving is the leading contributor to accidents on our roadways. The counter strategy is increased awareness on the part of the motorcyclist, not all the other people out on the road. They’re not going to change, you need to change to adapt to the conditions that exist.

We know the most common causes of motorcycle accidents related to other vehicles – car pulls out or turns in front of motorcycle, car changes lanes on highway into motorcycle, car runs into motorcycle stopped at intersection.

The motorcycle awareness we need is to deal with these situations as riders as effectively as possible. This is what happens – expect it and assume it will every time.

  • Ride as if that car IS going to pull out or turn in front of you. Be prepared to react to it. Every car, every time.
  • Constantly be aware of your position to surrounding traffic on the road and don’t ride in blind spots. Don’t assume that car next to you sees you – if he needs to swerve I’ll bet he’d rather hit you than a truck. Move out of the situation. When they crowd in on you get out of the situation as soon as possible.
  • Position yourself to be visible when stopped. Don’t sit right behind a car, move out to create a silhouette that stands out from behind. Keep the bike in gear and have an escape route ready in case you see that car running up on you too fast.

learn-to-ride-safe

The roads are getting more crowded and more dangerous. There are new challenges to face. People are just going to keep doing what they’re doing, they are not going to change. If you want to be safer, take your safety in your own hands – the others are too busy to bother.

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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

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Motorcycle Friendly – Still Mountain Restaurant, Hot Springs, NC

Motorcycle Friendly – Still Mountain Restaurant, Hot Springs, NC

On a classic “lunch run” ride here’s one option for the lunch stop.

Still Mountain Restaurant, Hot Springs

Motorcycle friendly Still Mountain Restaurant, Hot Springs, NC.

One of the nicest motorcycle rides you’ll do in the Smoky Mountain area of North Carolina and Tennessee is NC 209, a.k.a “The Rattler”. This 30+ mile ride through the mountains and valleys of North Carolina runs from Junaluska (Maggie Valley, Waynesville) to Hot Springs. Scenic, challenging, historic, it makes for a nice “lunch run” as an out-and-back ride or the first leg of numerous loop rides you can build with other great connecting roads.

Motorcycle Friendly Still Mountain Restaurant

Motorcycle Friendly Still Mountain Restaurant – you can’t miss it in tiny Hot Springs.

Hot Springs is one of the many historic little mountain towns that dot the landscape. Once  an important stop on the Knoxville, TN to Asheville, NC corridor, it is mostly forgotten now that the Interstate bypasses it to the west. It’s a pass-through town on the Appalachian Trail, a popular place for whitewater rafting, and there are natural hot springs where you can go soak your keister for a few bucks. On weekends, it’s a gathering spot for the bikers who flock to ride the outstanding motorcycle roads in the surrounding region.

Motorcycle Friendly Still Mountain Restaurant

Motorcycle Friendly Still Mountain Restaurant – a big comfortable porch, tasty food, and live music on this day.

Comfortable, easy to find, and with tasty food, the Still Mountain Restaurant is usually full of bikers though the occasional Appalachian Trail hiker drops in for some civilized fare on their 1500 mile walk in the wilds. You’ll feel right at home here.

Biker Friendly Still Mountain Restaurant

Biker Friendly Still Mountain Restaurant – Thumbs up!

You’ll find NC 209 and another 50+ great rides in the area on America Rides Motorcycle Pocket maps #6 as well as the 100 Great Motorcycle Rides in the Smoky Mountains.

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - NC 209, a.k.a. "The Rattler".

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – NC 209, a.k.a. “The Rattler”. Do it as an out-and-back or make a nice loop ride – one of many ways to go on this great biker road

More Rattler info here

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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

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Best 1000 Mile Motorcycle Ride You’ll Ever Do

If you’re looking for that epic ride this is one of the best ever!

Motorcycles at overlook in Smoky Park

Enjoy an overlook in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

When you link these mountain roads together you’ll spend almost all your time on 2 lane roads, most of it National Parks or on scenic parkways, and you’ll experience some of the best motorcycle rides in the USA.

Skyline Drive – 105 Miles
The Skyline Drive runs the crest of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. It starts at Front Royal and runs seamlessly into the Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway – 469 Miles

Blue Ridge Parkway View

Blue Ridge Parkway in NC

The Blue Ridge Parkway follows the highest ridge lines of the Blue Ridge Mountains through Virginia and North Carolina. It ends at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park – 47 Miles
The most visited National Park in the nation, ride across on US 441 passing from North Carolina into Tennessee at the crest, then turn west on Little River Road. Follow through to the Foothills Parkway.

Foothills Parkway – 17 Miles
Continue west on the scenic Foothills Parkway to reach US 129

The Dragon – 15 Miles

Springtime motorcycle ride on the Cherohala Skyway

The Cherohala Skyway in TN

Turn south on US 129 to enter the Dragon. Pass through and back into North Carolina. Continue south to Robbinsville, NC to head west again on the Cherohala Skyway.

The Cherohala Skyway – 52 Miles
Climb back up into the mountains and return to Tennessee near the mid-point of the ride. Turn south on 68 when you reach Tellico Palins, TN and follow this wonderful road into Georgia.

GA 60 – 23 Miles
Work your way east on GA 60 to Blue Ridge, GA, then continue on one of Georgia’s best motorcycle roads.

The Gauntlet – 133 Miles

Georgia

The Gauntlet ride in GA

Wrap it all up with a loop around the Gauntlet. You may continue on GA 60 or veer north on Skeenah Gap Road to start the loop.

Of course, this is just an overview. It’s a great introduction to riding in the Blue Ridge Mountains, still it only scratches the surface. It’s pretty straightforward to navigate, but you’ll want to do some planning. There are many variations and additions to make it even better.

9 map setYou’ll find this region covered in detail with America Rides Maps. In addition to these well known roads, almost 500 more are highlighted on a series of easy-to-read durable maps that will fit in your pocket with the info you depend on like out-of-the-way gas stations, mileage, and how to best link them all together.

The are more great motorcycle rides in the Blue Ridge Mountains than anywhere else. Any one of America Rides Motorcycle pocket ride maps is a vacation adventure in itself. With the full set you’ll have the freedom to point your wheels in any direction and know you’re on the best rides. Take a look here and see how easy it is – http://shop.americaridesmaps.com/Full-Southeast-Package-All-9-Maps-SE9.htm

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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

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Motorcycle Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway – Commuter Zones

Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway - commuter zones

You have no clue you’re passing through some sizable cities on a Blue Ridge Parkway ride  – 10 minutes ride from a parkway exit puts you in the heart of Asheville, NC, a fun place to visit!

On a 469 mile long Blue Ridge Parkway ride you will pass through two cities – Roanoke in Virginia, and Asheville in North Carolina. Each has its “commuter zone”.

In both cities, the parkway weaves along the east edge of town then curves around to the south, though barely a hint of the surrounding neighborhoods are visible. Riding along you never see a downtown area at all nor any indication you are near a sizable city. It’s part of the magical illusion of a Blue Ridge Parkway ride. The views have been well protected over the years.

What’s a Commuter Zone?

There will be a handful of exits relatively close together as you pass through one of the cities on the Blue Ridge Parkway. For locals, the Blue Ridge Parkway is just one more road to get through town, a shortcut. A lot of local traffic hops on it to save time and zip an exit or two to the road they want.

photo-no-gas-sign-on-blue-ridge-parkway

This sign is a legacy to when gas was available on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It should now read “No gas next 400 miles”. There is no gas on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Take advantage of close gas stations to the parkway in the commuter zones.

What you need to know about Parkway Commuter Zones –

Expect more traffic and more aggressive traffic in the commuter zones on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Locals are hopping on the parkway to save time and they may push the speed limit.

The speed limit drops in some areas and it’s more heavily enforced in the commuter zones. The Asheville commuter zone of the Blue Ridge Parkway went to 35 mph last year to try to slow down the local traffic. Watch for the signs.

Enforcement is heavier near cities, especially in commuter zones. More traffic means more resources assigned to deal with it. Watch your speed whenever you feel you are getting into a populated area. You can also expect more attention near popular areas along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

ranger on the parkway

Watch your speed and be alert in the commuter zones

Here are some places where I tell myself to roll back on the throttle when riding the Blue Ridge Parkway:

  • From the Start of the Parkway  in Virginia to Humpback Rocks
  • Peaks of Otter area in Virginia, near Buchanan
  • From 221 exit to 221 exit near Roanoke
  • Linn Cove Viaduct area near Blowing Rock
  • Moses Cone / Julian Prince Park near Boone
  • Altapass Hwy north of Spruce Pine / Little Switzerland
  • Crabtree Falls area
  • From Craggy Gardens through Asheville
  • The southern section of the parkway into Cherokee

Be aware of and alert for these commuter zones near the cities along the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are few signs on the road, but if you see any indication you are approaching a congested area be alert and ready to deal with increased traffic with a different agenda than you.

7 map Blue Ridge Parkway + The Dragon set

7 map Blue Ridge Parkway + The Dragon set

Get the maps!
http://shop.americaridesmaps.com/Blue-Ridge-Parkway-The-Dragon-Package-BRP12.htm

If you enjoy photos of motorcycle riding in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, like MY BLUE RIDGE MOTORCYCLING FACEBOOK PAGE.Facebook

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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

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Motorcycle Touring – Towns Near Great Smoky Mountains Park

Motorcycles at overlook in Smoky Park

Enjoying  an overlook on Newfound Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Choose the right place to stay on your Smoky Mountain motorcycle trip

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the #1 visited park in the nation. Needless to say there are plenty of places to stay in the surrounding area when you come. Those who make the trek by motorcycle not only enjoy the wonders of the park, but are rewarded with some of the most challenging and scenic motorcycle rides in the country at it’s borders.

Bullseye on the test place to stay

Bullseye on the best place to stay

I previously looked for the epicenter of great motorcycle riding, the central point in the middle of all the best motorcycle rides in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The prime location was Maggie Valley, NC on the southeast edge of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with Waynesville and Cherokee close runners up. I listed the pros and cons of using each as a base camp for your motorcycle trip. (read about it here)

Truth is, there are so many great motorcycle rides to choose from in this mountainous region you’ll never get to them all. While being at the strategic center of all the riding offers more riding choices and opportunities, it’s worth looking at some of these other places which lay on the borders of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Map towns around smoky park

Towns which ring Great Smoky Mountains National Park and classic motorcycle rides nearby.

♦♦♦♦ Maggie Valley / Waynesville – located right in the heart of the best motorcycle rides. Waynesville has great food, but few rooms. Maggie Valley has lots of rooms, places to eat, and the Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum.  (previously covered, read about it here).

♦♦♦ Cherokee – It’s where the Blue Ridge Parkway meets great Smoky Mountains National Park. Culture, casino, and crowds.  (previously covered, read about it here)

Photo - Great Smoky Mountains Railway Train

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad train in Bryson City

♦♦ Bryson City – Places to stay, camping, good food and drink, the railroad, at first glance Bryson City has a lot to offer. It’s downfall is it’s isolation. It’s located adjacent to 4 lane US 74. It has a nice little downtown where US 19 comes in from Cherokee. Your choices to quickly hop on a good ride without hitting the 4 lane are limited.

– If you’re looking for a nice quiet place to camp on a swimming creek and do a little riding, Bryson City will do you well.

♦♦ StecoahStecoah is a small spot located off NC 28 not far from Fontana Lake. There are cabins available here, though it’s a really popular spot for campers. There are a couple motorcycle campgrounds. NC 28  leads to The Dragon at Deals Gap or you can cut through to Robbinsville and the Cherohala Skyway. There’s a roadside diner. It’s a pretty remote spot so you’ll have to be self-sufficient, the campgrounds have some supplies. The nearest grocery is in Robbinsville, it’s dry county. The Nantahala Gorge is close, the good section of NC 28 starts just a few miles up the road.

– Stay in Stecoah if you’re looking for motorcycle campgrounds near the Dragon.  

Fontana Village Pitstop

Cabins, rooms, camping, meals, Fontana is remote but has all you need.

♦♦♦ Fontana –  Fontana is a good option near The Dragon on NC 28. You ‘ll find camping, cabins, there’s are a decent number of rooms, good meals, a bar, all the comforts. The stretch of NC 28 that it sits on is one of my favorite rides curvy motorcycle rides. You’re only minutes from The Dragon.

– Fontana will serve you well if you want a remote location with all the amenities. Close to the Dragon.

♦♦♦ Robbinsville – There’s nothing but mountains and trees west of Robbinsville and well into Tennessee. The small town sits at the hub of several important roads. US 129 leads north to The Dragon, south to the Nanathala Gorge. The Cherohala Skyway meets it here just north of downtown, NC 143 takes you over the mountain to connect with NC 28. All the good biker roads lead here.

While the town of Robbinsville is small, it’s the biggest small town for miles. There’s a grocery store, a few restaurants, gas station / fast food, one big central chain motel, and lots of biker friendly options and businesses in the town. There are a couple good places to eat.  It’s not a convenient town for walking. There’s no booze here, it’s dry.  Motorcycle rentals in town.

– Robbinsville is the largest town in the area so it has the most to offer. It’s a good base when you want to travel light. Great rides in every direction.

deals-gap-resort-

Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort

♦♦ Deals Gap – Resorts, lodges, cabins, campgrounds are all available but limited. If you want to be as close to The Dragon as possible you’ll be pretty isolated from civilization. This is where you want to stay if you’ve come to focus on riding The Dragon. Do a couple runs through in the morning then head down to the Cherohala Skyway or cruise the lake on NC 28. Get in another run or two through The Dragon in the evening.

– If you want to get the full Dragon experience, stay at Deals Gap. There may be entertainment, night races in the parking lot. 

♦ Punkin Center – Located at the Tennessee end of The Dragon where TN 72 intersects, it’s an ideal spot for riding The Dragon / Cherohala Skyway loop ride. There is a popular motorcycle campground here, a restaurant, and a repair shop.

– If you’re looking for a motorcycle campground on the north side of the park, this one puts you on some of the best roads.  

♦ Townsend – Townsend gets you away from the congestion of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, but you’re still on a pretty major road. It get’s you close to Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Townsend is a good choice if you want to ride The Dragon, The Cherohala Skyway, and poke around the park. It’s a popular base camp for dual-sport riders doing the unpaved roads in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Motorcycle rentals available in town.

– Townsend is a good base camp for dual sport riding. 

Gatlinburg-motorcycles

Tourist attractions in Gatlinburg.

♦♦ Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge

The primary attraction of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge is they are so easy to get to. The primary downfall of Galtinburg / Pigeon Forge is everybody goes there.

There’s about 40 miles between the north entrance of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the city of Knoxville, so this corridor has developed into a tourist vortex. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge host all kinds of attractions. There are lots of bargains on rooms and cabins. The downfall here is the tourist traffic and the scarcity of good motorcycle rides. The mountains quickly become valleys outside the park.

There may be some compelling reasons to stay in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, but you’ll likely spend time riding around the park to get to some of the best rides.

– Stay in Gatlinburg if you’re looking for a deal or want a tourist expereince. Accept the traffic, enjoy the attractions, and learn the backroads that will get you through it all.

 Cosby – Cosby is at the “forgotten” eastern end of the park. You’ll find lots of campgrounds along the edge of the park, a couple motels near I-40, little else of note. This area is popular for the unpaved riding both in the park and out into the national forests.

Cosby is a good base camp for dual sport riding. 

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100 Great Motorcycle Rides mapin the Smoky MountainsYou can get a map of more than 100 Great Motorcycle Rides near the Smoky Mountains that will show you where the roads are hiding and how they link together into endless wonderful wanderings through the mountains.

Click Here Now
to see more about the map

 

If you enjoy photos of motorcycle riding in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, like MY BLUE RIDGE MOTORCYCLING FACEBOOK PAGE.Facebook

____________________________________________________________________

wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

____________________________________________________________________

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Stay Near the Best Mountain Motorcycle Rides

Stay Near the Best Mountain Motorcycle Rides – 

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - NC 209, a.k.a. "The Rattler" This is some of the best motorcycle riding you'll find in the world. These riders are looping back to NC 209 on NC 63.This is some of the best motorcycle riding you'll find in the world. These riders are looping back to NC 209 on NC 63.

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – NC 209, a.k.a. “The Rattler” – This is some of the best motorcycle riding you’ll find in the world. These riders are looping back to NC 209 on NC 63.

So you’ve heard about the amazing motorcycle riding in the Blue Ridge Mountains and you want to come see the best of it it.

Where should you stay to have the best opportunity to ride the greatest number of classic motorcycle rides?

To figure out where the geographic center of the best motorcycle riding was,  I first looked at where all the classic roads were, roads that have been around long enough to have names like “The Dragon”, the “Moonshiner” and “The Gauntlet”. Some of these might be on your bucket list so it’s nice to have them close. I determined the center point between them.

Map of Classic Motorcycle Rides in the Smoky Mountains

Surround yourself with classic rides.

Next I moved a large circle around the center point of the classic rides to figure out when it contained the most good motorcycle rides overall. I made rings at 10 mile intervals, made a few adjustments, and came up with the answer;

Bullseye on the test place to stay

Bullseye on the best place to stay

The target falls on Maggie Valley, Waynesville, Cherokee.

Geographically, Maggie Valley sits at the hub of it all, but any of the towns along the south side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park is going to put you near some outstanding riding.

Here are some pros and cons to help you sort out which of the three places works best for you;

Maggie Valley 

 

Photo - fall colors at Soco Gap

View heading down from the Blue Ridge Parkway at Soco Gap on US 19 towards Maggie Valley.

Maggie Valley Pros –

  • There are lots of motel rooms, cabins, and campgrounds in the one road town, it caters well to the motorcycle visitor.
  • The best section of the Blue Ridge Parkway is just 10 minutes up the road.
  • The are several good places to eat.
  • Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum is there.
  • The small town hosts several biker events each year, including spring and fall rallies.
  • The town is spread along a 4 lane stretch of US 19 with high mountains on looming on every horizon, you really feel like you’re in the mountains.
  • There are liquor stores in town.

Maggie Valley Cons

  • 15 min ride to Waynesville for groceries.
  • If you stay close to the middle of town you can walk to some of the restaurants and pubs, but the town is long and narrow so you’ll probably hop on the bike.

Waynesville

Main Street, downtown Waynesville

Main Street, downtown Waynesville

Waynesville Pros –

  • known for it’s good food and picturesque downtown and atmosphere.
  • There are mountains on every horizon.
  • US 276 leaves from the south end of town and leads to some great rides and the Blue Ridge Parkway

Waynesville Cons –

  • There’s only one motel in the downtown and a couple B&B’s where you can walk to the restaurants, pubs, and stores and galleries.
  • I usually tell visitors – eat in Waynesville, sleep in Maggie Valley unless you can snag one of the few rooms available in town.

Cherokee

One of the many painted bears in Cherokee

One of the many painted bears in Cherokee

Cherokee pros –

  • Strategically located at the south end of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the south entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cherokee is obviously worth consideration.
  • There are lots of motels and campgrounds. No outstanding restaurants come to mind, though I don’t pass through Cherokee often.

Cherokee cons –

  • Because Cherokee is a hub of tourist activity it is often congested with traffic. The roads leading in to it are busy, there are few of them, and you’ll end up on riding 4 lane roads like US 441 and US 74 more often.
  • You’re on the Cherokee Reservation, if you want drinks you’ll need to go to Harrah’s Casino.

————————————————————————————————

100 Great Motorcycle Rides mapin the Smoky MountainsYou can get a map of more than 100 Great Motorcycle Rides near the Smoky Mountains that will show you where the roads are hiding and how they link together into endless wonderful wanderings through the mountains.

 Click Here Now
to see more about the map

If you enjoy photos of motorcycle riding in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, like MY BLUE RIDGE MOTORCYCLING FACEBOOK PAGE.Facebook

____________________________________________________________________

wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

____________________________________________________________________

Share