Blue Ridge Parkway Motorcycle Ride Strategies

Blue Ridge Parkway Motorcycle Ride Strategies:

Whether it’s a one day trip or part of an epic adventure, it’s good to have a strategy when setting out on a 469.1 mile long ride of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Here are some things to consider based on how long you have to make your end-to-end trip.

1 Day End-to-End

photo - grandfather mountain on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Grandfather Mountain south of Boone starts the climb into the high mountains of North Carolina

Some riders look for high mileage challenges. The Blue Ridge Parkway can be one of them – 470  miles with a 45 mph speed limit can be done in daylight on a long summer day. You’ll even have time to stop at a few overlooks for quick photos.

The key is “plan your gas stop so it’s close to a parkway exit to save time.” You’ll have to make a gas stop – choose the wrong exit and you can waste half an hour before you get to a pump.

I eat breakfast before and dinner after the ride, and pack a sub sandwich so I can eat at overlooks when I take breaks. Expect fog / clouds / mist / cool / damp in the morning, have a layer to shed in the afternoon. Go on a weekday, there will be less traffic. There’s no need to speed, but at the same time, if you’re slow through tight curves it’s going to be a long day. The ride is best done from north-to-south as it puts you in the highest sections in the afternoon when the clouds have lifted and it’s warmer.

2 Days Riding End-to-End

photo of parkway

You can really get away from it all on the Blue Ridge Parkway

2 days still means 2 pretty full days of riding.  You’ll want to be efficient with your gas stops and eating or it will sacrifice your time for sightseeing and enjoying the views. You’ll save time if you coordinate your time off the parkway well. Stop for gas where you can also eat lunch. Stay where you can eat or meals are close. You don’t need to feel rushed on a 2 day ride, but you do want to stay on track.

My strategy is to cover as many miles as possible the first day, then relax and enjoy the second day knowing you have less distance to cover. A 2 day ride is better done from north-to-south. Boone, NC is a good layover coming south. The North Carolina mountains really start to reach their heights south of Boone, you’ll be in them constantly the second day and have time to enjoy them. When going north I usually overnight near Hillsville or Floyd, or Meadows of Dan. You’ll have time to stop at Peaks of Otter and savor some of the best views from the Virginia section near the north end of the ride.

3 Day Ride End-to-End

photo  motorcycle on blue ridge parkway

If you want to stop and smell the flowers, plan at least 3 days.

If you want to get a full Blue Ridge Parkway experience, 3 days is minimum. If you’re planning to camp, it eases the pace.

With 3 days you can stop and see some of the cabins, the mill, and other sights along the road that you’d otherwise blow by.

3 days also opens the door to enjoying other outstanding rides in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Some connect to the parkway, some are close to it.

For the road warrior, it could mean doing the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2 days, then looping Great Smoky Mountains National Park to ride the Dragon at it’s western end on a three day blast!

Riding Sections of the Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway View

The highest section has the best views

If you see only one section of it, ride between Asheville, NC  and Maggie Valley, NC. That 50 mile arc goes from the low point in NC to the highest point on the entire road with much of it above 5000 elevation. There are frequent overlooks and sweeping views, dramatic drops and rocky passes.

Another great section is the high remote stretch between Asheville, NC and Little Switzerland, NC. Mt. Mitchell State Park makes a nice side trip to the top of the highest mountain in the east. Nice long range views.

The Epic Adventure

yellow motorcycle on blue ridge parkway

In it for the long haul!

The Blue Ridge Parkway is one part of the park road system. At the north end it continues as the Skyline drive into Shenandoah National Park for another 105 miles. At the south end, it meets US 441 to take you 30 miles across Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You can ride more than 600 miles on 2 lane twisty mountain roads entirely within our National Parks.

Leaving the National Parks you can then follow the parkways, skyways, and legendary back roads that weave throughout the south end of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I’d run through the Dragon, out across the Cherohlala Skyway, then down into north Georgia, looping back into the mountains south of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The “I don’t want to ride the parkway” strategy

A holiday motel in Maggie Valley

Maybe you already have a favorite place to stay – when you find one, explore all the great roads nearby.

Maybe you’re one of millions who have already enjoyed a motorcycle ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Maybe you find it’s more enjoyable to stay in one place than be on the move.

The best location to maximize your access to the best motorcycle rides is somewhere along the south side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You’ll find less traffic and congestion, numerous motels, cabins, and campgrounds. There are plenty of rooms on the north side of the park in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, but more of the good roads are on the other side of the park. Crossing through or going around Great Smoky Mountains National Park gets repetitive.100 Great Motorcycle Rides mapin the Smoky Mountains

Find a good base camp and get a copy of my 100 Great Motorcycle Rides in the Smoky Mountains map. You’ll spend more of your time riding that way. You’re surrounded by great roads, the map will show you how close they are! It couldn’t be easier!

Get map 100 Great Rides in the Smoky Mountains

see  The most detailed Maps Here – America Rides Maps

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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RoadRunner Magazine Event in Maggie Valley – the Wet and the Wild

RoadRunner Magazine Event in Maggie Valleythe Wet and the Wild

I’ve posted in the past how I’m not much of a motorcycle rally kind of guy. I’ve just witnessed an event that’s my ideal of what one should be – all about the ride.

RoadRUNNER event in Maggie Valley

RoadRUNNER event in Maggie Valley – 8 AM start, pouring rain, day after day.  The riders took it in stride and came out to spend the full days riding in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Picture this – you come to Maggie Valley, NC and check in to your motel. The next morning there are rides scheduled leaving every 10 minutes from 8 AM till 9:30 AM or so.

Choose a loop ride you’d like to do. Pick the kind of riders you’re looking to ride with – i.e., a leisure ride, an adventure ride, etc.

RoadRUNNER Magazine Event in Maggie Valley

RoadRUNNER Magazine Event in Maggie Valley – Choose a loop ride you’d like to do. Choose the pace of the ride you’d find comfortable. Follow the guides. So easy.

The rides are some of the best you may ever experience. The faster groups have additional side loops added in as a bonus. They use some of my best and favorite back roads and people raved about riding these unknown great North Carolina and Tennessee motorcycle roads.

Ride all day. Lunch is arranged along the way. When you get back in the evening, a huge tent awaits with a great meal.

RoadRUNNER event in Maggie Valley

RoadRUNNER event in Maggie Valley – You can see the big tent in the background where dinner is served while riders assemble for their respective groups in the morning.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

T-shirt, hat, all provided and prizes to boot, don’t need to deal with vendors. Very few there anyway, everyone is out riding all day and the fairgrounds is deserted.

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I don’t know about you, but this is my dream of what a motorcycle event should be – ride, ride, ride!

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The location was ideal. Rooms are plentiful and affordable. Maggie Valley, NC sits on the south side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is the hub of the best motorcycle rides in the Smoky Mountains. My big map of this area shows more than 150 outstanding motorcycle roads.

The people who came, around 200 of them, came to ride. The weather could have been much better – after about 2 weeks of hot and dry weather in the Smoky Mountains, the moisture returned with a vengeance. It didn’t seem to matter – these riders donned the gear and took it in stride with hardly a whimper.

RoadRUNNER Magazine Event in Maggie Valley - Rental bikes of all sorts were available

RoadRUNNER Magazine Event in Maggie Valley – Rental bikes of all sorts were available – dual-sport / cruisers / sport bikes / sport touring bikes. I got a KLR 650 from GSMmotoRent.com for the dual-sport adventure ride.

I got to tag along on the dual-sport ride on a bike provided by GSMmotoRent.com. Lt. Dan led us on 100 miles of unpaved riding through the national forests and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was more fun than I’ve had in a long time. I’ll have a post soon which will tell that tale and show the great photos.

RoadRUNNER Event in Maggie Valley

RoadRUNNER Event in Maggie Valley – There are so many roads to ride – paved and unpaved. Ride to the mountain tops, the waterfalls, and the places most riders never see.

It’s the easiest motorcycle vacation you’ll ever make“just show up and ride”. You can spend all-day every-day riding and return to a god hot meal each evening and a nice Asheville craft brew.

RoadRUNNER Magazine event in Maggie Valley - the adventure ride

RoadRUNNER Magazine event in Maggie Valley – the dual-sport adventure ride was a blast!

For more information, subscribe to RoadRUNNER Magazine herehttps://www.roadrunner.travel/order/subscription – the best motorcycle magazine for the dedicated motorcycle tourer.

For online info, go to http://www.roadrunner.travel/, and don’t forget to LIKE them on Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/RoadRUNNERmag.

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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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Learn Total Control

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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A Fun Motorcycle Ride out of Maggie Valley, NC

photo-Wayne-shares-the-secret-roads

A Holiday Motel in Maggie Valley hosted the ride and fed us well!

13 bikes left with me, 2 returned. Here’s what happened on our motorcycle “fun ride” –

I came in Friday night to share my Secret Roads with the riders in Maggie Valley. With 200 great motorcycle rides on my map of the Great Motorcycle Rides of the Smoky Mountains, I helped them plan their rides for Saturday.

I then invited them to come on a “Fun Ride” in the morning.

photo-group-of-bikers

The riders from the A Holiday Motel stop for a group shot on The Rattler Motorcycle route.

So what’s a “Fun Ride”? Quite simply, I’m going out for a ride. You are welcome to tag along. No strings, no hassles, no fees, no one is responsible for you. It’s an opportunity to hook up with a “local” who knows the roads and will likely take you places you’d otherwise never see.

photo-motorcycles-on-the-rattler

Some of the group on NC 209 a.k.a. The Rattler.

A “Fun Ride” invites adventure. The route is decided on the fly. Nothing’s been scouted, no arrangements for meals, stops, etc. The group of riders I met at the A Holiday Motel in Maggie Valley this weekend wanted to ride to Hot Springs, NC and experience parts of “The Rattler” motorcycle ride. I got them on the best sections, and a whole lot more.

photo-motorcycles-on-nc-63

Such a great day to be out riding. Follow the leader!

Adventure? Yesterday I chose one photo stop in a “parking lot” that was more like a minefield, but everyone survived without dropping their bikes. We stopped for lunch at a place I’d never been when we were hungry and it was pretty darned good.  Some got chased by a dog. Each break spot serendipitously had something memorable about it (a parrot riding a motorcycle?). The weather was sweet, the roads clean, and I know there are other stories to be told.

photo-parrot-rides-on-motorcycle

Polly wants a diaper? Poor mans bike alarm? Touch my bike and you'll lose a finger! I wonder what this riders leathers look like! Seen at a stop on our ride through Hot Springs, NC.

The group paired down as the day wore on.  Some needed to be back earlier and followed the quick route home. No big deal, nobody is counting heads at the rest stops or will come back looking for you at the end of the day. We lost one rider when he wore out a tire, and another tagged along with him to insure he made it for repairs. Some followed along only as part of another ride they’d planned for the day. No rules, no hassles, ride your own ride.

photo-belts-show-through-tire

So how good were those roads? This tire tells the tale! Our only mechanical issue of the day and I knew where to get it fixed. Thanks to MR Motorcycle in Asheville for getting him back on the road.

I returned to the A Holiday Motel with two bikes at the end of the day. Others had peeled off at the Leather Shack, the gas stations, or went up for a quick ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway as we came into town. Those two, both women on their own bikes, had really enjoyed the day and had fun. I know I did. At the superb BBQ dinner provided by the A Holiday Motel that night, everyone was very happy after a nice day riding motorcycles through the Smoky Mountains.

photo-motorcycles-on-nc-63

Making our way back on the best section of NC 63. It was a great day of riding. This road was tame after what we'd been through earlier.

The next “Fun Ride” will be based out of The Lodge at Copperhead in Blairsville, Ga. on Saturday, May 19. On Friday evening, I’ll do a short “Secret Roads” presentation and share what I know in hopes you’ll find some great new rides to add to your collection. Afterwards, I’ll be out on the porch, most likely in the vicinity of the very nice bar at the Lodge. Come see me if you’re interested. Kickstands up at 09:30 on Saturday.

photo-the-lodge-at-copperhead

The Lodge at Copperhead near Blairsville, GA sits on the Gauntlet Motorcycle Ride

I’m going out for a ride on Saturday, May 19. Maybe, you’d like to tag along. Bring a full tank and an empty bladder.

A Holiday Motel in Maggie Valley

The Rattler” motorcycle ride

Map – Great Motorcycle Rides of the Smoky Mountains

The Lodge at Copperhead in Blairsville, Ga

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Photo-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

Total Rider Tech Logo

Learn Total Control

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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Hurricane Weekend in Maggie Valley on my Motorcycle

Photo-mt-mitchell-highest-in-east

A little cloudy and rainy was as bad as it got atop Mt. Mitchell

While curiousity got the best of me and I did cruise up to Mt. Mitchell to get a close look at the hurricane, the Smoky Mountain weather was beautiful for motorcycle rides and I took advantage of it with a bunch of local favorites. Judging from all the other bikes out on the road, a lot of coastal folks hopped on the hog and ran for the hills. It was a good decision.

Photo-Thunderhawg-motorcycle-rentals

Thunderhawg Motorcycle Rentals, Maggie Valley

Friday found me visiting my friends at ThunderHawg motorcycle rental which just opened at the corner of US 276 and US 19 after my ride north on the Blue Ridge Parkway to Mt. Mitchell. Peggy and Mark rent Harleys and it’s nice to have a local rental place again in Maggie Valley. They’ve got tons of info, maps, and they love to meet and greet motorcycle vacationers to the Smoky Mountains. Stop in and see them when you pass through.

photo-aholiday-motel

A Holiday Motel - Saturday night

Saturday, I rode the Blue Ridge Parkway the other way to Cherokee and Bryson City to stop in at The Gear Head Inn, then hopped on some of the great roads south of there. I ended up at A Holiday Motel in Maggie Valley to pass the time while my wife ran in the 8K Maggie Valley Moonlight race.  Always popular with motorcycle vacationers, the A Holiday Motel was full of bikers who came to enjoy the splendid weather. The bonfire was going out front and I was able to cheer Jackie on and spend a little time with the riders. Dale from Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum came by with a couple of Australian visitors who had borrowed a couple of his antique Harleys.

The view from Riders Roost Restaurant is awesome

The view from Riders Roost Restaurant is awesome

Sunday, I cruised NC 215 and US 276, then followed the Blue Ridge Parkway back to Maggie Valley to stop in at Riders Roost Restaurant in before we headed back up on the Blue Ridge Parkway to enjoy the crystal clear evening skies that came in after the storm.

No matter which way you point your wheels from Maggie Valley, you’ll find outstanding riding. The Best section of the Blue Ridge Parkway is right up the hill. It’s a great place to base out of for your motorcycle trip to the Smoky Mountains as so many great rides are within easy reach.

Check out AllRoadsLeadToMaggie.com when planning your visit. Maggie Valley is the heart of good motorcycle riding in the Smoky Mountains.

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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. It’s time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely, it will change your mountain riding experience. It worked so well for me I became an instructor! Total Rider Tech

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Pre 1916 Coast to Coast Motorcycle Race Going On? Here are the photos!

http://www.motorcyclecannonball.com/ – here are some of the photos I took this morning.

Photo - Cannonball motorcycle run

Bust? Highly likely

I can’t adequately describe this event so I’m just going to give you the link right off the bat. See for yourself, follow them as they progress, it’s just hard to believe it’s actually happening.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle run

7:30 AM and getting ready

For those of us in western North Carolina, it’s not all that unusual to see vintage motorcycles from time to time thanks to Dale Walksler’s Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum in Maggie Valley.  Not only does he have one of the most extensive collections of early motorcycles, and a historical representation of the Harley Davidson line, but they all run and he races them. More than once I’ve been cruising through Maggie Valley when he pulls up alongside on one of the vintage motorcycles out for a spin.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle run

Not all the bikes were vintage - THIS WAS MY FIRST ROAD BIKE! 1974 Harley Davidson 90cc

I watched the bikes straggle in last night. They filled the A Holiday Motel in Maggie Valley as well as 2 others. I got to talk with the support crews and some of the riders.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

Excelsior Motorcycles were well represented

What’s it like riding one of these? They’re lucky to hit 50 mph so you don’t get windblown. The seats are fairly springy. It’s not all that bad – so they say.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

Plenty of early Harleys

On the other hand, going up hills is a challenge. I think those pedals get used. Things fall off – like brakes.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

Lots of Indian Motorcycles

Electrical problems, particularly magnetos, are a problem that can stop you dead and tough to resolve.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

Somehow they got the magneto repaired on this Indian.

A lot of these guys were up till the early morning hours in Wheels Through Time repairing the bikes to keep them running.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

Not all the bikes were restored to original condition

It was interesting to see what it took to make these bikes run. The right fuel mix, careful coaxing and monitoring, and a lot of attention.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

Some bikes were in mint condition

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

Would you race this baby across the country?

48 bikes started the race. Some had already dropped by this 3rd day. Will any make the west coast?

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

Getting them started is a challenge

They average about 200 miles per day. The longest day is 300 miles. No interstates. Only one rest day. Holy cow.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

I wouldn't know where to start to work the controls

I hope they make it. I’d like to see it become an annual event, though I don’t know how long the bikes could make repeated trips.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

You couldn't pay enough to duplicate the finish on this machine.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

The detailing on this machine attests to its authenticity

It’s something to see motorcycles nearly 100 years old not only running, but racing.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

Best to get an assistant to do the starting

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

Is that a "cheater tank" on this Harley?

Some of these guys were stopping to fill up every 20 miles.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

With VERY limited range, this was the way to go.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

A police escort helps

it’s pretty cool to see these old bikes. It’s even cooler to see them run. But when you see them take off down the road to race, it just defies coolness and becomes something beyond.

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

People came from surrounding states to see the event.

Follow the progress, read the trails and tribulations of the riders a thttp://www.motorcyclecannonball.com/

 

 

 

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

The race is on!

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

Another racer hits the road

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

Dude, that flag is gonna slow you down!

Photo - Cannonball Motorcycle Run

Horsepower Ok. Dog power - disqualified.

If you like this you need to pay a visit to Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum in Maggie Valley, NC.

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

 

– 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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Cannonball Vintage Motorcycles in Maggie Valley

I just got a couple photos this evening, bikes were still coming  in and heading to Wheels Through Time motorcycle museum on the Cannonball cross country vintage motorcycle race.

Photo - vintage Harley

One of three similar vintage Harleys in the Cannonball motorcycle race.

I’ll head over first thing in the morning when things get organized and the bikes are all together to head out and get some more pics. They’ve taken all the rooms at the A Holiday Motel in Maggie Valley.

The bikes were just rolling in this evening. Too scattered for good photos. More in the morning.

The bikes were just rolling in this evening. Too scattered for good photos. More in the morning.

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

 

– 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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It Doesn’t Get More Motorcycle Friendly Than This!

A lot of motels and lodgers CLAIM they are motorcycle friendly, even hang out a cute little sign. Few will show you hospitality like this and at a price that will have you inviting your buddies along! A Holiday Motel in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, only 5 miles from the best section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, stands out. Check out this video from last summer;


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvUaArTyhOo

They are located in the heart of town, walking distance to restaurants and bars, have a restaurant on site for breakfast, offer covered parking for your bike right in front of your room and rocking chairs to sit and enjoy the view of the sunset reflecting off your chrome.

Add to that a bike wash area, grills and picnic tables, a fire pit, a pool, a horse shoe pit, clean rooms at surprisingly low prices, and personal attention and hospitality that goes beyond what you expect, nestled in the friendly mountains which line every horizon.

Don’t come alone! They’ll set up a tent for groups and cater your party, even bring out the big projection screen to watch your favorite movies.

Here’s what one visitor had to say –


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGgsBURxBv4

I know Gabi and Rob personally and you’ve got my promise they’ll show you a great time and help you have one of the best motorcycle vacations ever. I wouldn’t be recommending them otherwise.

Rob & Gabi Edwards
A Holiday Motel – Your Preferred Lodging
828-926-1186
877-686-4386
www.holidaymotel.net

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