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


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 –



Best Motorcycle Rides North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles Repaved!

Fresh paving bumps this NC motorcycle ride to the top of list!

Freshly paved  –

  • US 276 from Fish Hatchery Road to the Blue Ridge Parkway (done)
  • US 276 from the Blue Ridge Parkway to Big East Fork (done)
  • NC 215 from Blue Ridge Parkway to Sunburst (in progress)

Unbelievable! Fantastic! Outstanding motorcycle ride!

US 276 – the Newly Paved Section

Note – while paving is done (it was a quality job) there is still fill work along the shoulders and pavement markings / lines need to be added so expect work crews in the area. It will take a bit for the gravel at the edges of the road to settle in, so you need to be watchful for loose stone in the curves for a while. 

We’ve just come in off a great North Carolina motorcycle ride on the newly paved sections of US 276 which connect Waynesville to Brevard just south of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. US 276 crosses the best and most scenic area of the Blue Ridge Parkway at the mid-point on this 30 mile ride.

Best North Carolina motorcycle rides - US 276

Best North Carolina motorcycle rides – Jackie gives a big “thumbs up” to the fresh paving on US 276 near the Blue Ridge Parkway

South of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the fresh paving invites motorcycle riders to snake all the way down from the parkway’s heights to popular Looking Glass Falls, one of the most visited roadside waterfalls in the southeast. Along the way you’ll find scenic areas like Pink Beds, informative and historic places like The Cradle of Forestry, and you might even want to plunge 60 feet down a waterfall for a chilly wake-up at Sliding Rock. The entire ride carves and switchbacks through the steep and wooded mountains of the Pisgah National Forest with whitewater streams, dark tree lined passages, and numerous pull-outs to stop ad savor the surroundings.

Best motorcycle rides North Carolina - US 276

Best motorcycle rides North Carolina – the south side of US 276 winds through thick forest

North of the Blue Ridge Parkway, US 276 drops more than 1000 feet in a 3 mile plunge from Wagon Road Gap (MP 412.2) to the trailhead at Big East Fork, then it flanks along the slopes of Cold Mountain following the Pigeon River to the Bethel Valley. This section of tight curves is one of the most sustained series of back-to-back turns you’ll come across anywhere AND it’s a steep grade to boot. For the motorcycle rider looking for a challenging stretch of road, this one has all you need!

Why is this important?

US 276 is one leg of a triangle which form a number of the best motorcycle rides in North Carolina I call The Pisgah Triangles. The other long leg of the triangle is NC 215. Several roads form third legs of a series of triangles crossing between NC 215 and US 276  within the upside down “V” formed. The roads which hold the most challenging, steep, curvy, and scenic sections of the rides are found near the top of the triangle and have been in poor repair making a challenging ride even more difficult. Once these sections of road are repaved, the quality of the motorcycle rides on The Pisgah Triangles will beat most, if not all of the best motorcycle rides in North Carolina.

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.

See photos, map, and ride guide here – The Pisgah Triangles

The Final Piece is in the Works! – 

We were delighted to see the upper portions of NC 215 are also receiving a sweet smooth coating of fresh asphalt. There is still a good bit to be done as it’s a much longer run down to the Sunburst Campground at the edge of the national forest. Like US 276, NC 215 traces the course of the Little East Fork of the Pigeon River as it rushes down from the heights.

Best Motorcycle Rides North Carolina - NC 215

Best Motorcycle Rides North Carolina – Paving on NC 215 has started from the top down. You can see one lane done here, still a way to go.

Easy to find, convenient to ride, lots of options!

Both US 276 and NC 215 intersect the Blue Ridge Parkway on the highest and most scenic portion of the road. If you are riding the Blue Ridge Parkway it’s easy to hop off and play with these roads or if you are riding through, it’s a short cruise to loop back from the south end at Cherokee and enjoy. I believe most riders are going to enjoy these roads more than The Dragon at Deals Gap as they are not only curvy, but wonderfully scenic and carry very light traffic.


You’ll find these roads on America Rides Maps motorcycle pocket map #6 – The Best Motorcycle Rides EAST of Great Smoky Mountains National Park along with another 50 or so outstanding rides in the surrounding area and a guide to the numerous roadside waterfalls.


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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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



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;

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 –

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