Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Spring Road Report April 2013

Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Spring Road Report April 2013 – Current conditions for motorcycle touring and Blue Ridge Parkway riders;

Roads affected:

  • Blue Ridge Parkway
  • US 441 through Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Cherohala Skyway
  • Fires Creek Road near Hayesville, NC
  • US 276 / NC 215 south of Waynesville, NC
  • US 70 / 25 north of Hot Springs, NC
  • NC 28 north of Franklin
  • NC 197 near Bakersville
photo - Spring on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Spring on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway – One by one the incidents of road damage sustained over the winter are being or have been repaired. One significant situation remains – the closure of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Mt. Mitchell. Most recent reports indicate it will be resolved mid-May.


The observation tower atop Mt. Mitchell is worth the trip, but you have to approach from the north until the road is fixed. Pick a sunny clear day.

A section of the Blue Ridge Parkway on this long high lonely stretch of road has been subsiding and slipping down the mountainside for several years. Frequent riders will remember the noticeable dip in the road just south of the entrance to Mt. Mitchell State Park at NC 128. A slide occurred here several years back, it was important to address this situation before another took out the pavement again.


The Peaks of Otter Lodge on the Blue Ridge Parkway will reopen soon.

The Peaks of Otter Lodge north of Roanoke is currently closed, though a new concessionaire has taken the contract and it is expected to open soon. Bluffs Lodge at Doughton Park in NC  will remain closed this season, looks like the campground will be open. The Pisgah Inn opened early south of Asheville. Crabtree Falls visitor center is closed this year.

For a detailed list of Parkway facilities and schedule go here –

Download a free printable detour map here –

US 441 through Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Open

photo - reapir on US 441

The newly repaired section of US 441 in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Work to repair a landslide on the North Carolina side of the only paved road crossing the park was completed a month ahead of schedule. The remained of the road is open though  a few of the roadside attractions like Chimney Tops are closed. Several of the unpaved roads in the park may not open this year due to cutbacks including Heintooga Ridge Road and Balsam Mountain Road.

photo - View of the slide damage below the repairs.

View of the slide damage below the repairs.

Cherohala Skyway – one lane closed, work continues

photo - Cherohala Skyway repair work

Work at the landslide on the Cherohala Skyway is progressing well.

Work on the landslide on the Cherohala Skyway is progressing well. Located on the North Carolina side close to the state line, one lane is closed with traffic regulated through the construction zone with temporary traffic lights and a short delay. Expect to encounter trucks hauling fill on the North Carolina side of the ride. You’ll find a little gravel on the road near the detour, but it is generally clean and in great condition.

photo - truck on the Cherohala Skyway

You will run into trucks hailing fill on the North Carolina side of the slide.

Fires Creek Road – closed for bridge work

A little known road north of Hayesville, NC, and one of my personal favorites to get away from the congestion on US 64, the road is closed for bridge work through October. Such a nice ride. If I scout a better detour, will post.

NC 215 / US 276 – conditions 

These two classic roads south of Waynesville / Maggie Valley both intersect the Blue Ridge Parkway at their midpoints. Each was repaved last year and are very popular rides.

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.

US 276 got a decent paving job and is in good condition. Be wary of gravel in the tight turns on the steep section climbing to reach the Blue Ridge Parkway on the north side. The roadsides were lined with fresh gravel, and it gets kicked into the road by cars and trucks on some of the sharpest curves. Not bad, but be alert.

NC 215 got a “tar and chip” coating which leveled and filled the potholes and cracks, but the surface remains loose in the higher sections. It has improved significantly over the winter. Still watching this road closely as there has been paving equipment parked on the roadside for a few weeks now. A top coat of new asphalt would make this road so much nicer, it could be the destination ride of the season. Will continue to monitor closely and keep my fingers crossed.

The higher you go the better it gets on NC 215.

The higher you go the better it gets on NC 215. The road crests where it meets the Blue Ridge Parkway, then plunges down the other side of the gap.

US 70 / 25 north of Hot Springs, NC


They don’t make ’em like that anymore! Look at that beautiful 1928 architecture. Detour via Fugate Road. The best thing about the detour is you get to see the bridge!

The bridge across the French Broad River will remain closed this year at the state line between North Carolina and Tennessee. This section of road connects Hot Springs, NC to Newport, TN. Use Fugate road as a detour. More info / photos here –

NC 28 north of Franklin, NC –

One lane closed, sometimes short delays until May 1 as road is widened in this section north of town.

NC 197 near Bakersville, NC –

Bridge replacement through June 30. Detour marked.


wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle

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 –

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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



Motorcycle Thought / Photo for Today

“Sometimes the best communication happens when you’re on separate bikes.” – Author Unknown

Photo - Wayne and wife Jackei on Peel's Ferry, AR.

Wayne and his wife Jackie ride Peel's Ferry across Bull Shoals Lake, Arkansas.

I harbor some remorse for those women who choose to ride shotgun with their spouse, they are missing the real thrill of motorcycling. Of course, they don’t have bugs in their teeth when they smile, but then I doubt they have as much to smile about. After in infamous snowmobile ride in Colorado (honest, we wouldn’t have ended up in that tree if we hadn’t hit the snow covered rock), my wife refuses to get on the back of any machine with me.  She’s been riding since shortly after we were married and that’s going on 27 years now. If you’ve seen some of my videos, you know, that girl can ride.

With the ground frozen and ice in the creek outside my window today, it’s nice to look at some summer photos when motorcycling is not quite as challenging. While I ride through the winter, as does Jackie, it’s a different experience entirely.

This is a photo of us on Peel’s Ferry which crosses Bull Shoals Lake in northern Arkansas. It’s a free ride, operated by the DOT, and it leads you into Missouri. It was so hot that day we used most of the water in our bottles soaking down our T-shirts and bandannas to keep cool. I may yet do a map of parts of Arkansas. There’s some nice riding if you know where to go. This ferry was part of a very nice day ride.

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New Features From America Rides Maps

I’ve added two new features to America Rides Maps to give you better service.

The first is a subscription newsletter. If you’re like me, you inbox is overfilled with unsolicited postings. You know the routine – open the mailbox then go down the list – delete, delete, delete, sifting through for something relevant. It gets old. While that kind of promotion may work for some, I really don’t want to be part of it. Still, I have info I think you need and will find useful and beneficial, not to mention I’m offering bonuses and discounts to subscribers. Your time is worth something.

I’ve chosen to use a subscription newsletter where you sign up if you’re interested and you can opt out if it doesn’t suit you. Receive occasional updates that let you know when new maps are released, changes or upgrades are made to current maps, receive subscriber discounts, inform you of road closures and other pertinent travel info, and receive a brief newsletter (more or less monthly) that keeps you informed of what’s happening in the mountains.

The first newsletter went out September 1. It included news of the release of my newest map, North Carolina / Virginia Border Rides, a blurb about the prior release of 5 Classic Rides Around Maggie Valley, updates to a couple of other maps, news of a great new road that was recently paved and another that is currently being improved, first hand reports of the repairs on the Blue Ridge Parkway, an update on the work in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, several articles on The Tail of the Dragon, a discount coupon for subscribers, and more. Click here to sign up for your copy!

The second feature I’ve just added is a Forum. While I enjoy chatting with you on the phone and corresponding via email, I believe I may be able to save you some time (and a phone call) by posting information you need online. The America Rides Maps Forum is located at I’m just one guy, and I’m not always available by phone (I don’t answer it when I’m on the bike). This gives you the opportunity to not only post questions, but get input from others who may have pertinent information that can make your trip better. It’s also a chance for you to post info, share photos, tell of your travels, and learn from others who have been places you may not have visited.

The America Rides Maps Forum is brand spanking new, I’m still getting it set up – determining the categories and such. Some of that will be sorted according to the types of postings that come in. At the moment, I am the sole and lonely member, but that will change shortly. This is your invitation to join the discussions.

I expect these new services will help you get more out of your next visit to enjoy the thousands of miles of fabulous undiscovered two lane back roads that America Rides Maps will lead you to. Please take a moment to look at them. I think it’s worth your time.


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