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

– 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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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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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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Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway – Tips; Tame the Tunnels

Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway – Tips; Tame the Tunnels

Danger or delight? With 26 tunnels on the Blue Ridge Parkway the experience of rolling under a mountain is common. Most are short, and in many  you can see the light at the other side. Still, every one is dark and if you’re riding along in the bright sunlight with your sunglasses on, the sudden plunge into darkness can momentarily blind you. Here are some observations and tips –

Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway  Tips - Taming the Tunnels

Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway Tips – Taming the Tunnels – the contrast can momentarily blind you

Know where they are – there’s only one in Virginia at MP 53.1 approaching the James River area. The remaining 25 are in North Carolina. A few are near Little Switzerland, but there are two areas to really plan for them – climbing from the French Broad River in Asheville to Mt. Pisgah, and descending from Soco Gap at Maggie Valley to Cherokee. You’ll hit 9 or so in sequence as you climb or descend from the highest section of the Parkway which lies between these points. If you are coming into one of these sections and the tunnels are a problem for you, it may be time to go without the sunglasses through here.

Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway  Tips - Taming the Tunnels

Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway Tips – Taming the Tunnels – It’s pretty easy to just follow the lights, but give plenty of room. The first guy is doing all the work. Be ready for the unexpected.

Use your lights , all of them – motorcycles are required to burn headlights at all times in North Carolina, but even so, they may not do the job in these dark tunnels. Flip on the brights. That will help light up the reflectors along the wall.

Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway  Tips - Taming the Tunnels

Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway Tips – Taming the Tunnels – Tunnels need a lot of maintenance. Slow down when the workers are there.

Watch for hazards – Keep alert for bicycles. They too are required to have lights on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but they won’t be as bold as on a vehicle. Watch for those dim flashing red strobes at the side of the road. Also keep an eye out for wet spots which are common in the tunnels. Cars often slow a bit when in the tunnels, expect it.

Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway  Tips - Taming the Tunnels

Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway Tips – Taming the Tunnels – Be alert for bicycles in the tunnels.

Don’t look down – The tunnels are not only dark, but they curve. You need to keep your eyes ahead. Pay attention to the wall of the tunnel where your brights will illuminate a piece of it ahead of you. It will guide you through.

Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway  Tips - Taming the Tunnels

Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway Tips – Taming the Tunnels – even the short ones often have wet spots, debris, and other things to watch for. In cold weather be wary of ice.

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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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How long to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway on my motorcycle?

How long to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway on my motorcycle?

Budget at least 2 days for your motorcycle ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway –

Map - How long to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway?

Getting to the Blue Ridge Parkway is a days ride for half the population in the US.

Blue-Ridge-Parkway-humback-rocks-overlook

Blue Ridge Parkway – Humpback Rocks Overlook in Virginia

While you can ride the entire 469.1 mile long Blue Ridge Parkway on your motorcycle trip in a single day, I strongly advise against it. I’ve done it, and trust me, you will not enjoy the experience like you should. It takes strategic planning and uncomfortable endurance to go end-to-end in a day on a motorcycle ride.

blue-ridge-parkway-spiral-curve-sign

Blue Ridge Parkway – Some tricky curves await on this great motorcycle ride!

The simple math is misleading – at an average speed of 45 mph and 469 miles to cover, it seems like a little over 10 hours of saddle time on your motorcycle tour does the trick. For many riders on a fully laden bike, the challenge of the mountain roads leads to a speed closer to 35 mph. You’ll also come across car traffic which finds this reduced speed more comfortable and few opportunities to pass.

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.

Additionally, there is no gas on the entire ride. You’ll need to leave the parkway to fill up. Choose the wrong exit and that gas station may be 15 miles down a steep and twisty mountain road. Most of us like to eat, and there is only one Park Service Lodge left on the ride, so you’ll be diverting into nearby towns adding additional time.

So how do you do it best when time is tight?

I recommend starting at the north end in Waynesboro, Virginia. If you are going to try to cover as many miles as possible with few stops, do this in the Virginia section. The road is a bit more relaxed, the elevations not as high, and while the views are outstanding, they are not as spectacular as those in North Carolina. There are more wooded sections, and it gives you a chance to get used to the curves before you get into the more serious challenges to the south.

photo - Virginia blooms on the Blue Ridge Parkway

June on the Blue Ridge Parkway means flowers! A great time to enjoy the ride.

Rocky-knob-cabins

Blue Ridge Parkway – Rocky Knob Cabins – a nice stop but come prepared with your own food and drink.

Set your sights to get across the border and into North Carolina on that first day. You’ll still have time to stop at some of the nicer overlooks and if you’re making good time you can even visit some of the roadside attractions along the way. As you get near the border you’ll find lots of places to lay over for the night. In Virginia, I usually head for Floyd or Hillsville, or take one of the many cabins located near the Parkway. Be aware, if you do choose a cabin along the way, you’ll need to bring in your own food or eat before you get there. Chateau Morrisette has great food, and you can stuff a bottle in the bags to bring to the cabin.

photo - grandfather mountain on the Blue Ridge Parkway

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

Photo - View of the grounds at the Switzerland Inn

The Switzerland Inn – A beautiful Resort on the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of my favorite stops

On the North Carolina side of the border, most choose to stay in or around Boone. You’ll find lots of lodging options here, and plenty of good places to eat in town, though you will have to deal with the traffic. If you are making really good time, the last place I’d suggest is the Spruce Pine / Little Switzerland area, the Switzerland Inn is a fabulous stop right on the parkway with nice rooms and great food as is the Skyline Inn nearby. Once south of here, there is a long stretch of empty road before you come into the city of Asheville.

Savor your second day. Once you get south of Boone, you start to climb into the high mountains. This is the time to slow down, take advantage of the numerous overlooks, and get those photos. You’ll also hit some of the trickiest turns and curves. Take your time, relax, and enjoy.

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks - highest point

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks – highest point. The long sweeping overlook compliments the great sweeping views

Strategic planning is critical on the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. You’ll be riding through long remote sections of road with few facilities nearby. I suggest fueling up in Asheville. You’ll find gas stations closest to the parkway here. It’s also a good place to stop for food, it’s hard to find a bad meal in Asheville. While it’s the second largest city on the Blue Ridge Parkway (after Roanoke, VA), it’s easy to navigate and a fun place to spend a little time. While the only remaining Park Service Lodge, the Pisgah Inn,  is just south of Asheville, and has great food and views, expect a wait to get served.

Blue Ridge Parkway-motorcycle-view

The southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway is worth the wait. Take your time and enjoy!

blue-ridge-parkway-devils-courthouse

Blue Ridge Parkway – Devils Courthouse, one of many spectacular sights on the ride.

If you find yourself running short on gas towards the end of the ride, the next best option for fuel is Maggie Valley at US 19 / Soco Gap (MP 455.7). You also find food there, and the Wheels Through TIme Motorcycle Museum is worth the visit. Maggie Valley is the place I most recommend for staying near the end of the parkway as it is so well located for the wealth of great motorcycle rides in the surroundings, and there are lots of rooms available at good prices.

Arriving at the south end of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Cherokee, NC, you are at the southern entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Cherokee has a good number of rooms, but it’s also quite “touristy” so you’ll have some traffic to deal with. No alcohol on the reservation, and the best food is probably at Harrah’s Casino. While I’ve stayed there in the past, I suggest looking at all your options depending on which way your travels take you next.

Enjoy a Blue Ridge Parkway view on a motorcycle trip

Blue Ridge Parkway view – While 2 days will get you there, if you have more time you’ll find plenty to enjoy on a more relaxed motorcycle tour of one of the top 10 rides in the country.

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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

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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Great Motorcycle Rides Easy to Find Online

Great Blue Ridge & Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rides discussed live online @ Map Chat

I’ve kicked off a new series of live online interactive webinars discussing the best motorcycle rides in the Blue Ridge & Smoky Mountains called Map Chat.

First Tuesday of each month at 8 PM eastern time, join me as I review one of my America Rides Motorcycle ride maps in detail.

Get the schedule and links to the webinars at http://americaridesmaps.com/map chat.html

Here’s a 5 min edited version of the first of the Map Chat series where we discussed Map #1 – Great Rides Near the Start of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia.

The full (40 minute) version of the webinar is posted online at: http://youtu.be/8g4GatVrUNc

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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. 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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image-virigina-motorcycle-ride-map

#1 Great Rides near the Start of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia

See  / purchase the map discussed – Map #1 Great Rides Near the Start of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia 
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Favorite Blue Ridge Parkway Motorcycle Pit Stops – Chateau Morrisette, VA

Photo-Chateau Morisette on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Chateau Morrisette on the Blue Ridge Parkway

The romantic relationship we have with Chateau Morrisette winery on the Blue Ridge Parkway goes back to a motorcycle trip many years ago. Tired and hungry from a long day on the lower Virginia section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, we stumbled in looking for a bite to eat only to find the kitchen had just stopped serving for lunch. Our disappointment must have radiated as the chef emerged from the kitchen, took one look at us, and said, I’ll take care of them”.

photo-Restaurant-terrace-at Chateau-Morrisette

The Restaurant Terrace

We were seated on the beautiful mediterranean style porch with it’s panoramic views of the rolling Virginia countryside. A short time later sandwiches arrived at the table and we devoured one of the best meals we’d had in days. I remember a delicious portabello mushroom  on crustini bread draped in a melted cheese which we accompanied by a glass of Black Dog Red wine and knew we’d found a  heavenly oasis.  I’ve never missed a chance to stop at the Chateau Morrisette since nor ever been disappointed.

Photo-tasting-room-at-chateau-morrisette

The tasting room

Over the years, the winery has grown in size and reputation. In times past it was one of the few landmarks you could easily identify from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Far out across one of those idyllic mountain farm fields, a long low series of signs spelled out the name of the winery in large letters. Gone now, the only way to find  it is to know where it is and watch for it. Success has meant one of the few advertisements along the Blue Ridge Parkway is no longer needed, and the parkway ethic is enhanced by it’s absence.

photo-terrace-at-chateau-morrisette

Live entertainment is common on weekends

While the restaurant remains much as I remember it, the new building at the vinyard is now the hub of activity. The regal architecture hosts the tasting room, gift shop, and is the sales outlet for the wines. The terrace outside is the gathering and resting place where patrons sit and enjoy their glasses of local vintage to the accompaniment of snacks and often live entertainment.

Photo-Chateau-Morrisette-Restaurant

Chateau Morrisette Restaurant

On a weekend visit you’re happy to be on a motorcycle where you can slip into corners in the crowded parking lot. There are frequent events, a stage on the beautiful grounds for concerts and such, it seems there’s always something going on at this popular destination.

Chateau Morrisette winery

Chateau Morrisette is locate at milepost 168.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Tuggles Gap. Look for Black Ridge Road, then spur off quickly onto Winery Road. You’ll arrive in 0.6 miles.

photo-Chateau-Morrisette-Wine

Chateau Morrisette's Black Dog Wines - Tasty

You’ll find Chateau Morrisette and all the surrounding great motorcycle rides in the area on America Rides Maps #3 of the Complete Blue Ridge Parkway seriesNorth Carolina / Virginia Border Rides.

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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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Blue Ridge Motorcycle Touring – Natural Bridge, Virginia

In general, I avoid the touristy sights on my motorcycle travels as I get my kicks from the road. It’s the hundreds of great motorcycle rides in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains I most enjoy, and that is best done with the kickstand up and the throttle open. I need a pretty good reason to park the motorcycle and go for a walk, and Natural Bridge, Virginia, is worth time the time to stop and see.

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The Natural Bridge, a Viriginia landmark worth seeing.

Photo-Natural-Bridge-Hotel

The Natural Bridge Hotel, a historic landmark

Natural Bridge has been around for a long time. It was already a tourist destination when Thomas Jefferson visited. This 200 foot high natural arch started as a cavern millennia ago. Over the eons erosion collapsed the majority of it leaving only the dramatic and inspiring rock formation that has drawn thousands of spectators over the last few centuries.

Photo-Natural-Bridge-Entrance-and-Gift-Shop

Natural Bridge Entrance and Gift Shop

This long history was part of the attraction for me. There are many early sketches and historic reports of the landmark displayed in the museum, it is part of our national heritage. This legacy though has come at the cost of commercialization of the natural attraction with manufactured ones added to woo the crowds and entice them to part with their dollars.

Photo-Cowboy-on-a-dinosaur

I managed to escape the Dinosaur Kingdom

We passed on the wax museum, the butterfly room, and most all the other man-made enhancements designed to lure the tourist. I was particularly amused by the hook for the “Escape from the Dinosaur Kingdom” with a statue of a cowboy riding a dinosaur. Easy to pass on that one, I’m quite satisfied with the Flintsone’s version of pre-history. Yabba-dabba dumb, but I’ll bet the kids like it as well as the Haunted Monster Museum.

Photo-Indian-village

The Indian Village re-creation.

We did walk the trail to view the re-created native indian village, but it pales in comparison to the main attraction.

We paid $18 a piece for a ticket that gave us partial access to all the attractions. All we really wanted to see was the Natural Bridge. It’s a short walk and worth the time, and while I we could have seen all the other kitschy stuff, I felt my money well spent avoiding it.

A side trip to Natural Bridge, Virginia is an easy and pleasant ride from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Exit near the James River Visitor Center on US 501 (milepost 63.7) or VA 130  a couple miles north (milepost 61.6, and the better ride). Follow Us 501 / VA 130 to Glasgow, turning right on VA 130 to pass through the small town for another 4 miles or so. Don’t worry, you can’t miss it when you arrive.

Photo-Natural-Bridge-view

View of the other side of the Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge, Virginia

The Natural Bridge and other scenic attractions nearby are found on Map #1 of the 6 map Blue Ridge Parkway series of motorcycle pocket maps by America Rides Maps. Don’t miss all the great motorcycle rides in this area.

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Great rides Near the Start of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia

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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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Motorcycle Friendly Places – Paint Bank General Store, VA

Photo-Paint-Bank-General-Store

Morning at the Paint Bank General Store, Paint Bank, VA

Though it’s only 1/2 hour west of Roanoke, the tiny hamlet of Paint Bank on Highway 311 sits like a jewel surrounded by rolling green hills and pastoral country that makes the busy city seem a million miles away. This is spectacular motorcycle riding country and bikers flock here to enjoy the long winding rides through narrow valleys which lead south towards Blacksburg, Christiansburg, and Pembroke. The beautiful wilds of West Virginia lie just over the western horizon, and the roads north twist and turn through forests teaming with wildlife.

Photo-Paint-Bank-General-Store

A for-real General Store! Cool!

Jackie and I came in from the north on VA 615, a ride through woods so wild we had to cruise with care to avoid all the critters in the roadway. Deer and turkey were abundant, a slew of painted turtles awaited their doom on the pavement, a fox, hawks, and all sorts of other animals either watched us pass or darted off into the greenery as we approached.  We paused in Newcastle for a rest, then pointed our wheels west on 311 to make the curvy fabulous climb and descent over Potts Mountain into the valley to arrive at scenic Paint Bank.

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The lunch crowd has arrived!

Eager to get on to the next curvy climb we stopped at the Paint Bank General Store for a potty break and to top off our tanks, but as the noon hour approached we soon abandoned our ride into West Virginia to return to the Paint Bank General Store, lured back by the promise of tasty locally raised buffalo burgers in the inviting and charming rustic setting of the Swinging Bridge Restaurant.

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The buffalo burgers were great!

In the short time we’d been gone the parking lot at the Paint Bank General Store had been taken over by motorcycles with the same ambitions as us and more arrived every few minutes. “Motorcycle parking only” signs lined the periphery of the  lot and the crowd of bikes spilled over to fill the remaining space. Some milled about on the porch, others hosed the bugs off their chrome with the convenient hose, but most found their way to the restaurant to enjoy the food and comfortable atmosphere.

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Bikers flock here for lunch

The Paint Bank General Store – A unique place in a beautiful setting with gas and good food surrounding by outstanding motorcycle rides and biker friendly. What more do you need?

Paint Bank General Store

Swinging Bridge Restaurant

Paint Bank info

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Great food, wonderful riding, the Paint Bank General Store and Swinging Bridge Restaurant was one of the highlights of our Virginia motorcycle riding

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Great food in a fun and relaxing atmosphere at the Swinging Bridge Restaurant located in the back of the Paint Bank General Store.

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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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Motorcycle Touring – Sights: Spectacular Roadside Waterfall in VA

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Falling Spring on US 220 north of Covington, VA

Located about 4 miles north of Covington, Virginia, Falling Spring has been an attraction referenced as far back as Thomas Jefferson. It’s an easy to locate, well marked pull off on this curvy section of US 220 (a.k.a Sam Snead Highway).

Jackie and I passed through here Sunday on our motorcycle ride as we explored the wealth of great motorcycle roads west of the north end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s a popular rest stop for bikers who flock to ride this great section of US 220 north of Covington. After revisiting Sam Snead Highway I’ve decided it should be upgraded on my America Rides Maps. I currently show only the portion south from the falls as being a great ride, while in truth the entire section from VA 39 south is outstanding. As much as I’d like to give it my top rating, due to the traffic load I can only feel right listing it as a “Good Connector” road.

For the casual cruiser who’s just out to enjoy the ride through the spectacular scenic countryside it’s a superb motorcycle ride. For those looking for a more spirited approach to the twisty sections, of which there are plenty, you’ll want to ride this one during the off hours and preferably during the week.

This roadside waterfall and the surrounding great motorcycle rides in the area are found on map #1 of The Complete Blue Ridge Parkway 6 Map Series from America Rides Maps.

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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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