Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – The Pisgah Triangles Map

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah Triangles motorcycle map

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles motorcycle map – At least 4 variations, the 3rd is my favorite.

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – The Pisgah Triangles are some of the best motorcycle rides in the world. You’ll see spectacular views, wonderful waterfalls, and ride curves and twists that go on and on and on!

US 276 and NC 215 are two of the finest motorcycle rides you’ll find. Both roads run south from Waynesville / Maggie Valley forming a large upside-down “V”. Connections between these two long roads make 4 triangle shaped rides.  Ride a short fun loop or have an all day adventure!

Complete your triangle with – The Blue Ridge Parkway, US 64, East Fork Road,
or SC 11

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah Triangles

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles – Looking Glass Falls on US 276 is one of the most visited roadside waterfalls in North Carolina

Roll into Waynesville or Maggie Valley and ask someone to direct you to the best and most scenic motorcycle rides and their finger will point you to the jagged southern horizon. Home to the highest and best section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, two of the roads that lead out of town and climb to the mile high mountaintops are drop-dead beautiful and filled with the curves and switchbacks that make a biker come alive.

The Pisgah Triangles is a name I use to describe this collection of great  motorcycle rides in western North Carolina as so much of it is through the wilderness of the Pisgah National Forest. These are four good options for rides, though are are several others, including some excellent unpaved forest roads for you adventure bikers. There are also roads which lead out to even more fabulous riding not shown on this map.

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah Triangles - NC 215

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles – NC 215 is the lesser known leg of the Pisgah Triangles, crossing the parkway midway. It’s a popular rest stop in the middle of the wilderness.

Any of these 3 roads – the Blue Ridge Parkway, US 276, and NC 215 are great motorcycle rides you never, ever, tire of enjoying on your motorcycle vacation trip. It’s the first place we local bikers head to as well. Here are 4 outstanding North Carolina motorcycle loop rides you can choose from to get the most out of your precious time while out motorcycle touring in the Blue Ridge.

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah Triangles - Cradle-of-Forestry

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles – Cradle-of-forestry is one of several stops on US 276, along with Pink Beds, Sliding Rock, Looking Glass Falls, Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground, Jukebox Junction, …

While you could blast through the shortest loop in less than 3 hours, chances are you won’t. There are so many great views you can’t help but stop and admire them along the ride. The first of the Pisgah Triangles is the first motorcycle ride I recommend to visitors after the Blue Ridge Parkway – it’s that good.

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah Triangles -NC-215-cathedral-falls

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles -NC 215 – Cathedral Falls is hidden just off the road, but is worth the stop as there are 4 other waterfalls with just a short walk.

The second of the loops climbs to the Blue Ridge Parkway, then down into the next valley near Brevard and Rosman. If you want to include a few roadside  waterfalls in your motorcycle tour, this is the way to get in some good ones and enjoy some more great curvy sections of road. I usually avoid using US 64 through Brevard and the traffic on the 4-lane, as the 3rd loop is so much nicer.

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah Triangles - US 276

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles – US 276 junction with the Blue Ridge Parkway. As both NC 215 and US 276 connect, you can always hop up and take a quick break with the best of views.

The third loop is just a little tricky as you jump from backroad to backroad, but it is such a nice and scenic motorcycle ride it is worth the effort and one of my favorite motorcycle rides of all. Dodging south of US 64 gets you off the four lane and on to some great rides along trout rivers and streams. Hard not to come back smiling from this one!

 

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah Triangles -

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles – The climbs up to the highest section of the Blue Ridge Parkway then down to the next valley are packed with switchbacks, curves, and twists that are so much fun to ride!

The longest loop takes you into South Carolina to the very edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, follows a long straight section of the Foothills Scenic Highway (SC 11), then comes back into North Carolina and a wonderfully twisty ride. The plunge into South Carolina from Caesar’s Head State Park is one you’ll remember!

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah Triangles - view from Caesar's Head

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles – Chances are you’ll miss this view plunging down from Caesar’s Head State Park into South Carolina and US 276 carves through the tight switchbacks.

Shortest loop 50 miles. 3 hours, more with stops.
Longest loop 120 miles – All day ride 

Routes:

Loop 1 – use Blue Ridge Parkway. 50 miles, 2 -3 hours or more.

Starts in Waynesville  – Leave downtown Waynesville on US 276 south to reach the top point of the Pisgah Triangles.

6.3 mi Continue straight at traffic light on US 276.

20.8 mi Turn left to follow ramp to the Blue Ridge Parkway at Wagon Road Gap.

20.9 mi Turn left at stop sing onto the Blue Ridge Parkway (towards Cherokee).

31.9 mi Exit the Blue Ridge Parkway at NC 215.

40 mi Turn Left at stop sign onto NC 215 (towards Canton). NC 215 becomes Lake Logan Rd.

 49.9 mi End of loop 1 in Bethel. 6.3 miles back to Waynesville on US 276.

Loop 2 – Use US 64. 90 miles, 3-5 hours

Starts in Waynesville  – Leave downtown Waynesville on US 276 south

6.3 mi Pass through the traffic light in Bethel.

20.8 mi Pass under the Blue Ridge Parkway

35.3 mi Turn right @ traffic light onto US 64. 

47.8 mi Turn Right onto NC 215 (Parkway Road).

64.8 mi Pass under Blue Ridge Parkway

90+ mi. Follow directions for loop 1 return to Waynesville

Loop 3 – Use East Fork Rd /  Wilson Rd. 100 miles, 5 -7 hours

Starts in Waynesville  – Leave downtown Waynesville on US 276 south.

35.3 mi Turn right @ traffic light onto US 64. Move into the left lane.

35.4 mi Turn left @ traffic light onto Ecusta Rd. Follow 1.6 miles to next traffic light at Old Hendersonville Highway.

37 mi Turn right, go about 200 yards, then turn left onto Wilson Rd. Follow Wilson Rd to US 276 (Greenville Highway

40.7 mi Turn left @ stop sign onto US 276 (Greenville Highway).

46.1 mi Turn right onto East Fork Road.

54.6 mi Turn left to stay on East Fork Road. Watch for gray metal barn on left near this turn. Follow East Fork Road to US 178 (Pickens Highway).

58.3 mi Turn right @ stop sign onto US 178 (Pickens Highway) and follow into Rosman.

59 mi Turn left @ traffic light when you enter Rosman to reach US 64.

60 mi Turn left at stop sign onto US 64

60.5 mi Turn right onto NC 215 (Parkway Road)

95.5 mi Turn left onto US 276 in Bethel. 6.3 miles to Waynesville.

Loop 4 – Use NC 11 – (Foothills Scenic Parkway)

Follow Loop 3 directions to mile 46.1. Continue south on Greenville Highway (US 276)  into South Carolina.

58.1 mi Turn right @ stop sign onto SC 11. Follow 8.9 mi.

67 mi Turn right onto US 178 (Moorefield Memorial Highway). Follow 15.6 miles to Rosman.

Return to Bethel using Loop 3 directions. 120 miles.

Here’s a video that shows riding in the area:

This is it. These are the rides you should do. They have everything you come to the mountains for. This is bucket-list quality stuff. These are some of the best motorcycle rides in North Carolina. Don’t miss the Pisgah Triangles on your next trip.

You find these great motorcycle rides on America Rides Maps #6 – The Best Motorcycle Rides Near Smoky Park – EAST  http://shop.americaridesmaps.com/6-The-Best-Motorcycle-Rides-Near-Smoky-Mountains-Park-EAST-NC017.htm

__________________________________________________________________

Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch – Cartographer

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Learn Total Control

– 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

Wayne is an advanced motorcycle instructor for Total Rider Tech teaching Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Rider Courses. Isn’t it time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely? It can transform your mountain riding experience.  Total Rider Tech

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Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Short and Sweet

Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Short and Sweet 

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - short and sweet map

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – short and sweet map shows a collection of roads in close to Waynesville and Maggie Valley so you’re never far from home

Not every great motorcycle ride in North Carolina has to be an epic adventure. Sometimes you just want a nice, easy, short cruise to add at the end of a day or squeeze in once a shower passes.

If you’re in Waynesville, Maggie Valley, Canton, out at the Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground, or anywhere else in the vicinity, here’s a collection of roads that not only keep you close in to town, but are excellent motorcycle rides and scenic to boot. You don’t have to go far to find a great motorcycle ride in the Smoky Mountains.

Best motorcycle rides in North Carolina  - Ratcliff Cove

Best motorcycle rides in North Carolina – Ratcliff Cove view – Not only are these roads twisty and fun, they have wonderful views along the ride

 

Start at Highway 23 / 74 Exit 104 at Junaluska. Follow 4 lane US 23 (Asheville Highway) into Waynesvillle, then exit town on US 276. Follow Raccon Road to Ratcliff Cove Road then on to Stamey Cove Road. Follow NC 215 through Canton to Thickety Road. Take Hyder Mountain Road to NC 209 and return to start.

33 miles – 1 1/2 Hours – an Easy Ride

Route:

Start at Exit 104 Highway 23 / 74 at Junaluska.

Turn right @ traffic light towards Waynesville. Continue through traffic circle.

2.7 mi Continue straight @ traffic light onto Walnut Street. Junction US 23 and Walnut Street.

3.1 mi Turn left @ traffic light onto US 276 (Russ Avenue). Junction Walnut Street and US 276 (Russ Avenue). Head downtown.

3.3 mi Turn Right @traffic light. Junction US 276 (Russ Ave) and US 23 (Main Street). Pass through Waynesville.

3.7 mi Turn left @ traffic light onto US 276. Junction Main Street and US 276 south.

5.5 mi Turn left @ junction with Raccoon Road.

6.9 mi Turn right @ junction with Ratcliff Cove Road.

10.4 mi Turn right @ stop sign onto Stamey Cove Road. Junction Ratcliff Cove Road / Poison Cove Road / Stamey Cove Road)..

13.8 mi Turn left @ stop sign onto NC 215 towards Canton. Junction Stamey Cove Road and NC 215.

15.9 mi Turn left @ traffic light onto US 19 in Canton. Junction NC 215 and US 19.

16.5 mi Turn right @ traffic light onto NC 215. Junction US 19 and NC 215.

17.3 mi Turn left @ traffic light onto Champion Drive. Junction NC 215 and Champion Drive.

18.1 mi Turn left @ traffic light onto Thickety Road. Junction NC 215 and Thickety Road.

18.8 mi Turn left  @ stop sign to continue on Thickety Road. Junction Thickety Road and Crabtree Mountain Road.

23.4 mi Continue straight onto Hyder Mountain Road. Junction Charles Street in Clyde. Thickety Road becomes Hyder Mountain Road..

25.4 mi Turn right @ stop sign to continue on Hyder Mountain Road.

28 mi Turn left @ stop sign onto Big Branch Road. Junction Hyder Mountain Road and Big Branch Road.

28.2 mi Turn right @ stop sign onto Golf Course Dr. Junction Big Branch Road and Golf Course Dr..

28.4 mi Turn left @ stop sign onto NC 209.

33.2 mi Follow NC 209 to return to start.

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Great Motorcycle Rides North Carolina – The Rattler Motorcycle Map

Great Motorcycle Rides North Carolina – The Rattler Motorcycle Map

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

The Rattler Motorcycle Ride is one of the great motorcycle rides in North Carolina and is one to include in your Blue Ridge Parkway motorcycle adventure.

So you already know about the great motorcycle rides in the Smoky Mountains, maybe you’ve made a motorcycle tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

You’ve already tasted the Tail of the Dragon (if it didn’t take a bite out of you), and probably enjoyed the sweet curves of the Cherohala Skyway.

By now you realize there must be a ton of biker roads out there“So, WHAT’S NEXT?”

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.

Not one, but two motorcycle rides immediately spring to mind, so I flipped a coin. The Rattler won.

For years, this great motorcycle ride was well known amongst locals (and those in-the-know) as “209” or “Hot Springs”. It’s one of the default, always-good motorcycle rides that you can do over and over again and enjoy it every time. A few years back, it got named “The Rattler“. I don’t know who started that, but it stuck, and you can buy T-shirts along the route – I guess it’s official.

The Rattler motorcycle ride takes you on a 30+ mile jaunt through the mountains and valleys north of Maggie Valley and Waynesville to the tiny town of Hot Springs near the Tennessee border.

Great Motorcycle Rides North Carolina - The Rattler

Great Motorcycle Rides North Carolina - The Rattler; Nice valley rides coursing along rushing streams, climbs over several mountain passes, and tight-tight twists as you approach Hot Springs

It’s a great “lunch ride” or “afternoon spin” as it only takes an hour or less to ride the twisty two lane. It’s also a “warm up” for those motorcycle touring fans who really know the area.

One you get to Hot Springs, you are surrounded with good motorcycle roads to choose from if you know where they hide.

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - NC 209 The Rattler

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - NC 209 The Rattler - pastoral views of mountain farms and creeks, winding passes through forests, and some of the most challenging tarmac you'll ride wait for you in North Carolina on The Ratterl

Ride Guide –
36 miles to Hot Springs – About 1 hour ride to hot springs.
98 miles to do loop ride shown – 1/2 day ride.

Route: 

Start: Exit 104 on Highway US 74. Lowes store at this exit. Pass under US 74. Follow NC 209 north.

3.7 mi Cross I-40 at Exit 24. It’s an easy ride through the valleys for a few miles.

11.9 mi Turn Right onto Betsy’s Creek Road to continue on NC 209. Ferguson’s store / gas marks this corner. Lots of signs.

22 mi Junction NC 63. Note and pass through. – Store and gas at this junction. Popular spot for a break, loop returns here.

36.6 mi NC 209 ends at Hot Springs. Return as you came or continue on loop ride.

To continue on loop ride – 

Pass through Hot Springs. Cross the French Broad River and follow US 25 for 5 miles. US 25 will reach a stop sign.

41.7 mi Turn right @ stop sign to continue on US 25 / 70 towards Asheville.

50.9 mi Veer right into Marshall on Main Street. Follow into town.

61.6 mi Turn right at the traffic light in the center of Marshall and cross the bridge over the French Broad River.

You are now on Bailey Branch Rd. It will become Meadows Town Road. Meadows Town Road ends in 10 miles at NC 63.

71.5 mi Turn Right @ stop sign and follow NC 63 to return to the mid point of NC 209.

85.5 mi Turn left @ stop sign onto NC 209 and follow back to Junaluska to finish the ride.

98.4 mi End of ride

Here’s a 10 minute video that takes you through the ride step-by-step

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

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Learn Total Control

– 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

Wayne is an advanced motorcycle instructor for Total Rider Tech teaching Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Rider Courses. Isn’t it time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely? It can transform your mountain riding experience.  Total Rider Tech

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Fun Motorcycle Rides in Georgia from The Lodge at Copperhead

Fun Motorcycle Rides in Georgia from The Lodge at Copperhead –

Fun motorcycle rides in Georgia GA 348

Fun motorcycle rides in Georgia GA 348 – a couple of the riders who tagged along on the Fun Ride out of The Lodge at Copperhead

A couple photos from the last “fun ride” out of The Lodge at Copperhead in Blairsville. The Lodge at Copperhead is the southern gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains and the fantastic riding begins at their doorstep.

Fun Motorcycle Rides in Georgia-leaving the Lodge at Copperhead

Fun Motorcycle Rides in Georgia – getting ready to head out with half a dozen bikes to ride the back roads of Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains

Literally leave the front gate of The Lodge at Copperhead and you’re on The Gauntlet motorcycle ride, a fantastic sampling of the great motorcycle roads that draw bikers from all around.

 

Fun Motorcycle Rides in Georgia - Get a free map of The Gauntlet at the Biker Barn on US 129 near Blairsville.

Fun Motorcycle Rides in Georgia – Get a free map of The Gauntlet at the Biker Barn on US 129 near Blairsville.

Get your free map at the Biker Barn and get the most out of your ride!

“Fun Rides” are free, just a chance to get out with others and ride some of the best roads in the area. No guides, no rules, they happen on the fly and are usually full of adventures. I always try to throw in a few roads you might never see otherwise.

Fun Motorcycle Rides in Georgia - Helen

Fun Motorcycle Rides in Georgia – Helen, Georgia, a German Alps themed town, is a popular stop for both bikers and the masses of other tourists

Fun Motorcycle Rides in Georgia - The Lodge at Copperhead

Fun Motorcycle Rides in Georgia – The Lodge at Copperhead

Next fun ride will be in Maggie Valley or Asheville, NC – I’m making arrangements now. Sign up for the short monthly newsletter if you want to know about the next opportunity. Use this link to sign up now – http://americaridesmaps.com/signupform.html

__________________________________________________________________

Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch – Cartographer

Total Rider Tech Logo

Learn Total Control

– 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

Wayne is an advanced motorcycle instructor for Total Rider Tech teaching Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Rider Courses. Isn’t it time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely? It can transform your mountain riding experience.  Total Rider Tech

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Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway – Safety Tips

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway – Safety Tips

Visibility

I first heard rumors in town yesterday a motorcyclist had died in an accident on the Blue Ridge Parkway. http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20120516/NEWS/305160022/Motorcyclist-killed-Parkway?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CFrontpage It is a sad occurrence which typically happens a few times each year. Considering the millions (YES MILLIONS) of motorcycle riders who will make the journey to one of our nations top motorcycle rides this year, I have a few suggestions on how to be safer on your travels.

image-motorcycle in fog on Blue Ridge Parkway

Motorcycle Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway - Safety Tips - fog

This tragic accident seems to have happened because of reduced visibility from rain / fog. At most entrances to the Blue Ridge Parkway you’ll see signs which say “avoid the parkway during fog and bad weather” (my paraphrasing, wording on signs varies).

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway - Safety Tips

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway - Safety Tips - Wait for the clouds to rise

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway – Safety Tips
1) Wait for the clouds to rise

As it was the middle of the day when I heard the first rumor, it means this accident probably happened earlier in the morning. Here’s the first bit of advice – wait until later in the day to get up in the high elevations. Typical weather patterns in the Smoky Mountains have the clouds settling on the mountains and valleys over night. You awake to fog in the morning. As the sun warms the clouds from above, they rise and the fog clears from the lower elevations. If there is a lot of moisture in the air (we’ve just been through an extended rainy period) it can take quite a while for the clouds to get above the 6000 ft heights of the Blue Ridge Parkway. If there is any bad weather occurring, it will hit the high parts first, and can linger up there all day while it’s fine and dandy down low.

 

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway - Safety Tips

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway - Safety Tips - It's on days like this a waterproof camera comes in handy. Visibility quickly vanishes when the clouds and rain close in.

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway – Safety Tips
2) If you want an early start, see some other great biker roads first

Adopt a “locals” strategy. Most local riders know how different the weather can be up on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and know to wait until later in the day to get the most out of that ride. As there are so many other great motorcycle rides in the area, there’s no reason to make the quick jump up high when you can get out and have a fun motorcycle ride down low. The Blue Ridge Parkway is just one great motorcycle ride. There are so many more. Use the opportunity to get the most out of your travels. With so many good biker roads intersecting the Blue Ridge Parkway, you can spend an hour or two cruising some of the best motorcycle roads in the country, then pick up the Blue Ridge Parkway at one of many entrances later in the day.

Photo-clouds-move-in-on-the-Blue-ridge-Parkway

Clouds will hang just at the mountaintops. Dense, wet, thick clouds which can reduce visibility to nearly nothing but whiteness.

Motorcycle Riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway – Safety Tips
3) Eat first so you don’t lose time later

Take your time, enjoy a nice breakfast, you’ll make up the time lost – So you’re just interested in riding the Blue Ridge Parkway, no time to see those other roads, got to stay on schedule and knock out the miles?  One strategy I use when I need to cover some distance is to eat my big meal at breakfast. Sure it prevents that early eager start, but get your belly full, and you can make it through lunch with snacks at the overlooks. There are few convenient lunch stops on the parkway, so you’ll lose time later in the day when you go searching for one. You’ve got to sacrifice some time to eat, so do it early when it makes you safer through the day.

Visibility can be severely limited at the high elevations found on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and it’s best to avoid the situation if you can.

__________________________________________________________________

Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

Total Rider Tech Logo

Learn Total Control

– 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

Wayne is an advanced motorcycle instructor for Total Rider Tech teaching Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Rider Courses. Isn’t it time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely? It can transform your mountain riding experience.  Total Rider Tech

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Motorcycle Rides In Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area

Let’s get the obvious out of the way right now so we can enjoy the rest of the story, “There are more great Motorcycle Rides in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains than anywhere else”. You knew it was coming, and now being said, we can move on.

photo-view-from-room

We had a nice view from our room at the posh 4 Seasons Resort in Scottsdale, AZ.

We flew into Phoenix, stayed in Scottsdale. 

While many riders fantasize about riding cross-country to reach those far-off destinations, I’m so over that. Droning along on the interstates through days of monotonous and uninteresting landscape is a waste of time and tires to me. With just 6 days of travel on my calendar, it would have taken 8 just getting there and back on the bikes. Once again, we flew in and rented a motorcycle to maximize our quality riding time.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - A balloon ride

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - A balloon ride really helps you appreciate the harshness of the desert and the general landscape.

Phoenix is a city of 1.5 million people who choose to live in a scalding moonscape unfit for sensible human habitation. Endless months of triple-digit temperatures preserve the volcanic origins of the region as if it was a recent event in geologic time. The rocky remnants of those ash-spewing calderas rise on the horizons like mountainous islands peeking above a deep, deep, rolling sea of gray-brown boulders, rocks, and dust. The entire region is one big blast and fallout zone.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Spines, thorns, prickles, barbs

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Spines, thorns, prickles, barbs, horns, needles, spikes, everything wants to hurt you!

5% humidity deprives most living things any chance of thriving.  Oxymoronic “river” signs mark parched sandy gulches where runoff collects for a few short minutes before re-vaporizing for the next few weeks – or months. Most every living thing is so bent on survival it threatens all others with spines and needles, fangs and venom to keep them at a distance. Nature has obviously posted the “Do Not Enter” sign.

A long motorcycle ride looping north from Scottsdale

We stuck to local sights the first day, visiting Cave Creek for lunch, and Natural Bridge to the north. The next day, we followed 74 northwest to US 60, then veered north on 89 near Wikenburg. The ride to Wikenburg was pretty miserable, just dry empty desert, highway traffic, vast open spaces.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale - Natural Bridge, AZ

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale - Natural Bridge, AZ, one of the side trips worth taking.

Route 89 soon climbs through a nice section of switchbacks to gain some elevation. The terrain gets a little more green and hospitable and the riding improves as the road seeks the better passage between the rolling hills. Riding along you are taunted by the “No trucks over 50 ft length X miles ahead on 89”, and when you finally pass through Wilhoit the ride gets nice and curvy and fun.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - A break near Prescott.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - A break near Prescott. Returning the phone calls that come in while I'm riding.

89 then passes through the town of Prescott which so interested us, we discussed the potential for basing there for a future trip. It seems to have a lot to offer. North of Prescott, we veered east on 89A for the best section of road I found this trip – the mountainous portion known as the Mingus Highway.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Jackie gets ready to descend from the Mingus Highway

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Jackie gets ready to descend from the Mingus Highway through Jerome, the best section of road this trip. Really put the softail through it's paces here!

The Mingus Highway twists and carves through the elevations much like the roads I so enjoy at home in the Smoky Mountains, though the arid scenery could easily convince you it’s a canyon ride in California. Exiting north, the roads plunges down from 6000 foot heights passing through the tiny hamlet of Jerome, clinging to the edge of the slopes nearly a mile above the valley below. A popular stop, we could not afford the delay, though next time it’s worth exploring.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - How pretty is Sedona?

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - How pretty is Sedona? Approaching from the west, this is the least scenic of the 3 routes into town.

We passed through Clarkesdale and Cottonwood, to reach the apex of our days ride – Sedona. As beautiful as it was, Sedona was just our lunch stop today, a first visit for me. Surrounded by the red rock monuments, the destination town is a vortex for tourists and caters to the crowds who flock there.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Cruising through Sedona

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Cruising through Sedona, the town is surrounded by the red rock formations on every horizon.

The ride turned south out of Sedona onto one of the most scenic rides you’ll find as Route 179 winds between the colorful rock formations to Oak Creek. Once you pass the casino at the edge of town, the road runs through unremarkable desert to intersect Interstate 17 and we continued south on the highway for a distance.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Some of the best and easiest views are right along Route 197 south of Sedona.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Some of the best and easiest views are right along Route 197 south of Sedona.

We turned east when we reached Route 260 and started climbing into the higher elevations and more interesting and scenic riding. Temperatures dropped as we climbed to 7000 feet and entered the high pine forests. Route 260 became Route 87 as we continued south through the small towns of Strawberry and Pine, and the larger sprawling town of Payson.

Motorcycle rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Sedona is a popular destination for motorcycle riders for obvious reasons.

Motorcycle rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Sedona is a popular destination for motorcycle riders for obvious reasons.

Progressing south from Payson on Route 87 the road gains another lane then gradually leads you down from the heights and back out into the Sonoran Desert returning to the city. We covered a little more than 400 miles on this loop ride, the longest of the trip.

 A nice loop ride east of Phoenix / Scottsdale

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale - Riding 188 south is a nice cruiser

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale - Riding 188 south is a nice cruiser ride that includes sections along Theodore Roosevelt Lake

I saw this ride described as a great “cruiser” road and I’ll concur with the assessment. It’s easy riding with nice scenery and relatively little traffic. Route 87 north led us through the gentle sweeping curves that climb to the high desert. We made up names like “boulder city” and “the cactus jungle” to describe distinct areas along the route, and rolled through the essentially treeless national forest to reach Route 188 and turn southeast.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Turning on to Route 188

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Turning on to Route 188. When you're from the Smoky Mountains, a straight road is a rare sight deserving of a photo!

Route 188 formed the long side of the triangle we rode on this loop. More gentle flowing two lane curves through the dry hills lead to a long ride aside cobalt blue Theodore Roosevelt Lake. It’s pleasant and relaxing riding with the nice contrast of scenery and color.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Very pleasant ride along Theodore Roosevelt Lake.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Very pleasant ride along Theodore Roosevelt Lake. Jackie and I pause for a cool drink and to admire the bridge.

Along the way, we stopped at Tonto National Monument to see the historic cliff dwellings. It’s a steep walk up the trail and I wouldn’t wan’t to do it on a hot day, but we enjoyed our visit and the sights.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Tonto National Monument has historic cliff dwellings

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Tonto National Monument has historic cliff dwellings with a steep hike, but it's a great stop along Roosevelt Lake.

We turned onto the third leg of the triangle, Route 60 in Claypool, and started west toward Phoenix. We passed through miles and miles of massive mining operations and the mountains of tailings, then entered a wonderfully scenic canyon near Top-of-the-world. The steep drop through the spectacular rocky cliffs dumped us at the edge of a vast flat desert basin and a long arrow-straight drone back to the city. We covered about 250 miles on this day.

Sedona Highlights – what to see on a short visit

Sedona is one of the most scenic towns you’ll visit in the southwest, surrounded by towering red rock monuments on every horizon. We spent a day exploring the area and here are my suggestions on how to get the most out of a short visit.

Route 89A approaches town from the west, then exits north. Route 179 junctions with Route 89 in the heart of town leading south.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Looking west on Route 89A from Sedona

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - Looking west on Route 89A from Sedona

Approaching town from the west on 89A, to get one of the best views ride to the top of Airport Road. The view from atop the mesa overlooks the entire town and panorama of breathtaking geography.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - one of the best overlooks of Sedona

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - For one of the best overlooks of Sedona, ride up to the top of the mesa on Airport Road. Wow!

North of town, 89A follows Oak Creek Canyon along the river. The deep canyon is forested with tall pine trees that partially obscure the views of the towering cliff walls and you wind you way north. The road gets tighter and tighter than makes a dramatically step climb through a series of switchbacks to top the rim at over 6000 feet. it’s worth the ride to see and experience. Once atop the canyon, 89A continues to Flagstaff and connects to Route 66.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - View from the rim of Oak Creek Canyon north of Sedona.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - View from the rim of Oak Creek Canyon north of Sedona. Follow it into Flagstaff and connect to Route 66.

The easiest way to see the red rocks in all their splendor is to ride down Route 179 south from Sedona. I wouldn’t bother with the Red Rock Loop Road, it’s not as scenic as touted and there is an unpaved section near the middle – more effort than reward. Use the pullouts at the monuments for the nice views and don’t miss a ride up to the Chapel of the Holy Cross for some great views and photos.

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - View from the Chapel of the Holy Cross

Motorcycle Rides in Arizona: Sedona, Scottsdale area - View from the Chapel of the Holy Cross just outside Sedona. A short drive with a nice view.

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Wayne Busch

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– 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

Wayne is an advanced motorcycle instructor for Total Rider Tech teaching Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Rider Courses. Isn’t it time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely? It can transform your mountain riding experience.  Total Rider Tech

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