A Good Motorcycle Ride – The Road to Nowhere

Road to Nowhere Motorcycle RideA scenic motorcycle ride on an abandoned road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Road to Nowhere Motorcycle Ride Map

Lake View Drive in Great Smoky Mountains National Park was planned to arc around the north shore of Fontana Lake to connect to the southern lake loop road (NC 28) at the Fontana Dam. The project was abandoned about half way through and has come to be known as “The Road to Nowhere”.

Road to Nowhere Motorcycle RideThe road starts in Bryson City, NC as Everett Street. This is a great motorcycle ride to add to your lunch plans, a nice little side trip. There are a lot of good places to eat in Bryson City. One of them, The Cork and Bean, sits at the corner of this route (Everett St. / Main St.) in town.

The road climbs gently from town arcing to the west as Fontana Road. Its a section of gentle flowing curves.

Road to Nowhere Motorcycle RideThere is a sign at the park border. The road gets much tighter and from here on with curve after curve the whole way.

There are a few spots to pull off and get views of the lake.

The road ends at a paved parking loop. A series of brown slats barricade the road beyond.  You can just see the stone arch tunnel where the road ends from the turn-around. Hiking only once through the tunnel.

Road to Nowhere end Motorcycle RideThere are many stories and controversies over this road. Some see it as a boondoggle. The government has yet to compensate for the land. A family cemetery was isolated, the park service periodically ferries them by boat. Regardless, the result is a really curvy ride with some nice views we can enjoy.

It’s 8.5 miles from town to the end of the road, so you can make it a quick out-and-back ride or stop to savor the views and the wildlife. There are other nice roads nearby if you enjoy exploring the more adventurous back roads including some good unpaved roads.

Road to Nowhere Motorcycle RideYou’ll find this road on map #7,Map #8, Map 100 Great Motorcycle Rides in the Smoky Mountains, and others from America Rides Maps. There are more great motorcycle roads in the Blue Ridge Mountains than anywhere else – find them here;



Motorcycle Friendly Lodging – Gear Head Inn near Bryson City, NC


View form the Blue Ridge Parkway this afternoon - Big Witch Overlook near Cherokee

Another great motorcycle friendly place to stay in the Smokies and I got you another discount! Read on…

A gorgeous afternoon on the Blue Ridge Parkway with clear blue skies, amazing long range views, and those wonderful, wonderful curves, provided a stark contrast to the touristy mess that is Cherokee as I came off the parkway, passed through town, then pointed my wheel west on US 19 towards Bryson City, NC.

As soon as you’re out of town the pleasant green returns and two lane US 19 winds its way along the pretty Oconoluftee River for several miles as you leave the Reservation. It was easy to spot the Gear Head Inn sign and I pulled into the quiet spot cradled in the hillside along the road.


The Gear Head in Near Bryson City, NC

The first thing that struck me was how fresh everything looked. The green metal roofs looked new, as did the paint, in fact everything showed it had been resurrected and restored to a standard that exceeds anything I’d seen in the surrounding properties. The lawns were well tended, the pool sparkled, and the first impression is that the owners have put a lot of time and effort into this making this motel a labor of love. It shows.

Jim was finishing up the last of the renovations to the spacious lobby and the room was both inviting and welcoming. Mary met me at the door and invited me in.


The rooms are huge at the Gear Head Inn

The cold glass of spring water she brought me was welcome on this hot late summer afternoon, and I spent some time getting to know them and finding out what they had to offer the motorcycle vacationer.

The motif reflects Jim’s passion for performance automobiles, and while he’s primarily a car guy at heart, I think any performance vehicle gets his motor running and he loves the motorcycle visitors. They’ve designed this place for people who love their rides, two wheels or four, and want a place where car and motorcycle enthusiasts feel at home. It’s a great place for people who frequent the numerous custom car and motorcycle shows in the area.


The pool - note the lights

Was I surprised when Mary showed me a room! Jeez, they are huge! Totally out of character from what you typically find in these smaller roadside motels. Must say I’m impressed.

They’ve got a bike cleaning station waiting, a nice fire pit centrally located for sharing those stories about the days ride in the evening, and nice level paved parking set well back from the road. Mary even knew of a roadside waterfall I’d yet to discover and she shared its secret location with me – sorry Mary, that was a mistake, I’m a blabbermouth and I’ll be checking it out ASAP (ask her about it).

They’ve got a few motorcycle groups coming in over the next couple weeks, but would love to see a few more. As an incentive, they’re offering a 10% discount through December if you tell them I sent you or bring in one of their cards I’ll be sending out with all America Rides Maps orders this fall.

PS – take a look at the lights by the pool – (They’re giant gear shift levers – how cool!)

Gear Head Inn




Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

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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. 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