Your Fall Motorcycle Leaf-peeping trip to the Smokies – Tips

Your Fall Leaf-peeping Motorcycle Trip to the Smokies – Tips

Some of the best views will be from the heights of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Some of the best views will be from the heights of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

 It’s that time of year again, the brief lull before the start of the peak of the tourist season in the Smoky Mountains. It’s a good time to pass along some last minute tips and advice to those planning to come see natures spectacular autumn show.

Blue Ridge Parkway Fall Motorcycle

You don’t have to go far to find great scenery

Last minute advice – Get a room! If it’s your first visit to the Smoky Mountains on a fall motorcycle tour for leaf season, you don’t yet know how “last minute” this advice is. The nicest places to stay and most of the motorcycle friendly sites took reservations last year, they are probably booked. You can try calling, but you’re probably relegated to the second tier establishements. If you “wing it” you’ll be looking for adventure in the third tier or bouncing between crowded campgrounds.

Tanassi Creek Road

Tanassi Creek Road – all yours, no traffic!

Tip – you’ll be back. There is no way you can hit all the best roads on one trip, even two trips. Some are worth coming back and riding again. If you really like the experience and find a base camp that treats you well, book ahead for next year.

Last minute advice – when is peak leaf viewing? Depends and varies. Were I to pick one (OK, 2 dates) for the Smokies, it would be Oct 16-17. Leaf color depends on climate conditions over the year. It takes a cold snap to make the leaves snap and the right mix of wet and dry. Who knows?

Becky Mountain Road

Becky Mountain Road

Tip – Leaf season is longer than it seems – That “peak of color” date is misleading. Due to the changes in altitude, the leaf change occurs at different rates at different altitudes. There are several weeks to either side of the announced peak date when the leaves will be spectacular, but limited within the altitude. High areas change early, valleys change later. There is still good leaf color into November at the lower altitudes.

Last minute advice – What will the weather be like? While it’s typically a dryer time of year, it’s also one of those transitional periods where we fluctuate between a couple warm days then a few colder ones. Cold fronts usually come through hard and fast, warm ones kinda drift in with gentle rains. On nice sunny days the temperatures may rise well into the 60’s, even 70’s. But, a damp and cloudy day in the 50’s can feel mighty chilly when the winds pick up atop the mountains. Morning lows will generally be in the 40’s, though a cold snap will bring frost (and help the leaves have good color).

Ellijay Road - beautiful and fun!

Ellijay Road – beautiful and fun!

Tip – Bring warm gloves, a good jacket, and several layers. Mornings are typically foggy, an early start may mean the views are obscured. Don’t be in a rush to get to the mountaintops. As always, throw the rain suit in just in case. If you’ve got an open helmet, consider face protection.

Advice – What about the traffic? While millions will flock to the mountains to see the fall show, their patterns are predictable. Weekends, especially afternoons, will find the popular places like Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Chimney Rock, The Dragon, and the Parkways congested. Mornings are the better times to pass through the busier areas.

Photo-motorcycles-on-the-Blue-Ridge-Parkway

View from Waterrock Knob

Tip – try to hit those most popular areas during the week. They are definitely worth visiting, but you will enjoy them more if you can be riding, not idling. On the busiest days, there are still hundreds of great, fun, empty 2 lane back roads for you to enjoy riding, and they are all lined with colorful trees where the leaf-peepers rarely stray.

Advice – What should I watch out for? Be extra cautious when riding. Half the people out there may be tourists paying more attention to the scenery than the road. Be ready for the unexpected (like a car stopped dead in the road to take a photo on a curve). Same goes for you riders – use the numerous overlooks and pull offs to get the best views. Several motorcycles ride off the mountainsides each year when the driver was distracted by gorgeous the views. Pull over!

Blue Ridge Parkway Fall Motorcycle

Enjoy the ride but pull over to enjoy the scenery. Don’t ride off into the sunset – it’s a long way down.

Tip – when traffic is heavy, best to avoid it. Get off the main roads, divert around towns, and look for those tiny back roads others bypass. You’ll have much more fun, see things others never do, and discover reasons to come back and ride more during the off season. Just one or two of my pocket maps will insure you have the best motorcycle vacation ever – they show you all the great back roads.

Charlies Creek Road

Charlie’s Creek Road – Not only will you find some of the best hidden pockets of leaf color, but you’ll  have one of the best rides of your life.

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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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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.

Photo-mt-mitchell-highest-in-east

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.

Photo-Peaks-of-Otter-Lodge

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 – http://www.nps.gov/blri/parknews/blue-ridge-parkway-releases-2013-season-opening-schedule.htm

Download a free printable detour map here – http://smokymountainrider.com/Downloads/parkway-closure-2013.pdf

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

photo-wolf-creek-bridge

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 – http://smokymountainrider.com/?p=4239

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.

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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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Classic Motorcycle Roads Closed – a blessing?

Classic Motorcycle Roads Closed – a blessing?

Extreme rain causes flooding and washes out many favorite motorcycle rides – here’s an update and what it means for your motorcycle tour plans;

Note: we are hardly out of the woods – all this moisture in the soil could lead to more slides over time, and now with some hard freezes coming in, the freeze/thaw cycles could contribute to more problems as more rock is cracked, split, and loosened.

US 441 – Newfound Gap Road, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Seems this road is always under construction, over the past year or two, to repair a slide near the top on the Tennessee side of the border. As the only road which crosses the park, right through the heart of it, it carries heavy traffic loads. Now, a large section has washed out about 9 miles north of Cherokee, and it will require a substantial and costly repair.

photo - slide closes park

photo source: Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Newfound Road US 441 hit by slide, park closes

Of all the damage from the recent weather, this is the most significant. While I do show this as a great motorcycle ride on my America Rides motorcycle pocket maps, it’s one of those “if you haven’t done it, you should ride it”, but it’s not one of my favorites due to the traffic, and I typically avoid it.

If you are planning to base a motorcycle vacation out of Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge, you will now be forced to ride completely around the park to reach many of the best motorcycle rides. While there are some great motorcycle rides on the north side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you will also be dealing the the tourist traffic that  floods into this area. I suggest you look at options on the south side of the park instead. Map #8 details the best motorcycle rides free of traffic on the north side of GSMNP, but there are so many more on the south side you will get in more riding by basing your motorcycle trip on the quiet side of the park.

The Cherohala Skyway – NC 143/ TN 165

A significant slide on the North Carolina side of the border, about 1 mile from the state line has taken out one lane of the road and it has been closed. This is one of the nicest rides in the area, and the only road that crosses through this remote area of high mountains, a favorite scenic motorcycle ride often done as a loop ride with the infamous Dragon at Deals Gap.

Photo Source - Graham Star - Slide on Cherohala Skyway takes out 1 lane

Photo Source – Graham Star – Slide on Cherohala Skyway takes out 1 lane

This is a “wait and watch” situation right now to determine how stable the slope is over time. The good news is there is likely enough room for a temporary detour, though the work required to fix the problem will be extensive. I am hopeful, it will reopen before the riding season cranks up.

This road is featured on Map #7,  Map #8, and 12 Classic Deals Gap motorcycle rides.

US 19 – Near Burnsville

This is not a large slide in scope, but the issue is a “house sized boulder” which now sits blocking the road. Complicating the cleanup is a nearby house which is too close to permit blasting of the rock. Plan is to drill in to it and use expanding materials to break it up. I expect this problem will be cleared up relatively quickly.

yancey county slide

Photo source – Yancey County News – Large boulder blocking road

Detours use Jack’s Creek Road and Coxes Creek roads, this area is detailed on Map #5

Blue Ridge Parkway (near MP 455) Soco Gap area, near Maggie Valley

Reports of a small slide in this area seem to be over-hyped. I have hiked to it for inspection, and found a few rocks in the road which I could have cleared with one hand. No worries here.

photo - small slide on Blue Ridge PArkway

The rock slide reported near MP 455 is nothing to worry about. I could have taken care of it myself.

The most significant Blue Ridge Parkway closure in North Carolina is for slope stabilization near Mt. Mitchell. The road is closed here at least through April. You can download a free printable map of my suggested detours for motorcycles that give you other options here – http://smokymountainrider.com/Downloads/parkway-closure-2013.pdf

NC 63 – Leicester Road

I have not had personally investigated this slide, it is reported one lane has been affected. This is a popular motorcycle ride connecting to NC 209 (The Rattler), often used to make loop rides or access Asheville. The slide occurred in the best section of the road, the steep switchbacks that climb over the mountain. No further info on this one right now.

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - NC 209, a.k.a. "The Rattler" This is some of the best motorcycle riding you'll find in the world. These riders are looping back to NC 209 on NC 63.This is some of the best motorcycle riding you'll find in the world. These riders are looping back to NC 209 on NC 63.

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – These riders are looping back to NC 209 on NC 63.

Fortunately, there are many other options to make loop rides through this area, you’ll find them them extensively detailed on Map #6

So where are the blessings in all this bad news?

Most of the mess will be tended to by the time the real motorcycle riding season gets going. While 5 important roads are closed, some of them consistently on the “top 10 motorcycle rides” lists, it is only 5. I show nearly 200 other great motorcycle rides in this area, the blessing is you now have the opportunity to get away from the tourist traffic that flocks to these biker roads and discover some of little know and best scenic motorcycle rides detailed on my maps.

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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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Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle – Waterrock Knob

Waterrock Knob Overlook
Elevation – 5820 feet
Milepost – 451.2

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle - Waterrock Knob

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle – Waterrock Knob is a beautiful spot with outstanding views

Easy to find, convenient to reach from nearby towns of Waynesville and Maggie Valley, Waterrock Knob is a popular stop when motorcycle riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks - waterrock knob view

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks – It’s a steady climb to Waterrock Knob from either direction on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s only 18 miles from the south end of the ride.

Once you’ve passed the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway it’s all downhill to the southern end at Great Smoky Mountains National Park just outside Cherokee, NC.

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlook by Motorcycle - Waterrock Knob

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlook by Motorcycle – Waterrock Knob – view looking south into South Carolina and Georgia.

It’s hardly time to pull in the clutch and coast – there are a few good mountains you’ll need to climb along the way. One of them is Waterrock Knob.

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle - Waterrock Knob view

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle – Waterrock Knob view – looking east into South Carolina. Clear days provide outstanding views. Take some time and enjoy.

Just 10 miles from the south end of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Waterrock Knob is a large overlook sitting near the mountain top with outstanding views both east and west. On clear days it’s easy to spot Harrah’s Casino in Cherokee almost 20 miles distant.

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle - Waterrock Knob  - the turn

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle – It’s easy to spot the short access road that leads to Waterrock Knob as the parkway divides here for one brief section

The overlook is located on a short spur road that is well marked and easy to spot – the road briefly becomes divided here with a median as you reach the top of the climb.

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle - west view

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle – looking west, you can see the casino in Cherokee almost 20 miles distant

The overlook has a large parking lot, bathrooms, and a Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center. A  strenuous footpath makes a 1 mile climb to the top of the mountain. There are several picnic tables and it’s a nice place for it.

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle - Waterrock Knob

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle – It’s a great place for a pit stop at Waterrock Knob, plenty of room and places to view from, and a visitor center with info and bling.

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks - Waterrock Knob - map

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks – Waterrock Knob – map – a section of Map #6 shows where to find Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are lots of other things to see nearby.

You’ll find Waterrock Knob on America Rides Motorcycle pocket maps –

#6 The Best Motorcycle Rides Near Smoky Mountains Park – EAST
http://shop.americaridesmaps.com/6-The-Best-Motorcycle-Rides-Near-Smoky-Mountains-Park-EAST-NC017.htm

#7 The Best Motorcycle Rides SOUTH of GSMNP
http://shop.americaridesmaps.com/7-The-Best-Motorcycle-Rides-SOUTH-of-GSMNP-NC021.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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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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Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle – Highest Point

Richland Balsam Overlook
Elevation – 6053 feet
Milepost – 431.4 

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks - highest point

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks – highest point. The long sweeping overlook  provides expansive views of the mountains which comprise ‘The Land of the Waterfalls”

The highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway is in North Carolina at milepost 431.4. Here, the nations top motorcycle ride reaches an elevation of 6053 feet as it carves it’s way along  the southern exposure of the Balsam mountain range.

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle - highest point

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle – Getting your picture with the sign at the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of those “must have” photos from your trip to reach the long paved overlook which spans the radius of the curve around the mountain.

There is no dramatic climb to reach the long paved overlook which spans the radius of the broad curve around the mountain. The Blue Ridge Parkway maintains a steady altitude through this long remote and isolated section of the national park rarely dipping below 5000 feet. While the grades are gentle, the curves are full of surprises and the drop-offs along the roadside inspire a real respect for the altitude on this best motorcycle ride in the USA.

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle - high point

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle – peer into several states from the highest point on clear days, but it not place to be in bad weather

Only 37.7 miles from the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway at Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee, NC, a ride to the high point is an easy one to squeeze in even if you’re not on an end-to-end parkway ride on your motorcycle. From Asheville, Waynesville and Maggie Valley, it’s a wonderful way to spend a few hours riding a motorcycle on one of the the best scenic motorcycle rides you’ll find anywhere.

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle - high point

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle – Few can resist a stop at the high point. The large parking area is able to handle the crowds, and it’s a great lace to get shots of large groups of riders.

As you might suspect, this spot is one of the most remote and isolated on your Blue Ridge Parkway motorcycle ride. It’s a long ride for gas, tank up before you go. The high parts get the wet weather first – if it looks cloudy from the valley, you may not see much when you get up high. It will be a lot cooler than down in the valley and more windy, be prepared.

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle - high point

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks by Motorcycle – A fall view from the high point overlook. Clear days are just spectacular!

Map of the best section of the Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway Map best

Map of the best 50 mile section of the Blue Ridge Parkway shows the location of the high point and the ways to reach it from nearby towns. Click for larger image –

See a 360 degree panoramic view at Virtual Blue Ridge – http://www.virtualblueridge.com/parkway_tour/overlooks/00431b.asp

image-motorcycle-ride-map-cover

You’ll find the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway on America Rides Maps motorcycle pocket map

#6 The Best Motorcycle Rides Near Smoky Mountains National Park – EAST http://shop.americaridesmaps.com/6-The-Best-Motorcycle-Rides-Near-Smoky-Mountains-Park-EAST-NC017.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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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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New Map – The Best Motorcycle Rides SOUTH of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Image - View of Map

Map #7 - The Best Motorcycle Rides South of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

I’m proud to announce the release of America Rides Maps latest compilation of great motorcycle rides in the Blue Ridge Mountains and the final map to complete a series of three maps which detail close to 200 good motorcycle roads surrounding Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Map #7, The Best Roads South of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, covers the region west from Maggie Valley, North Carolina, to Tellico Plains, Tennessee, extending south to cross the borders into South Carolina and Georgia. More than 30 of the roads rate being listed as outstanding rides highlighted in red, and another 20 are shown as great connecting roads highlighted in blue to link them all together.  The Best Roads South of Great Smoky Mountains National Park includes a guide to 9 roadside waterfalls, numerous out-of-the-way gas stations, sights and attractions, and motorcycle friendly locations.

dragon-motorcycles

Motorcycles flock to ride the Dragon at Deals Gap

This is THE MAP for motorcycle riders making a trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway then on to the Dragon at Deals Gap.

It includes the final sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway into Cherokee, North Carolina, the popular 125 mile long Dragon /  Cherohala Skyway loop ride, the Nantahala River Gorge, Wayah Bald, the Cullasaja River Gorge, a surprising wealth of hidden back roads near Franklin, NC, and variations on rides surrounding the Dragon at Deals Gap few ever discover.

The Smoky Park Motorcycle Map Series includes –

Nearly 200 roads are described in this map package which weave through some of the highest mountains in the east, cross extensive scenic national forests and park lands, see dozens of roadside waterfalls, including every ride within Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it’s the most extensive and comprehensive collection of great motorcycle rides in this area ever assembled.

 

 

 

Photo by Jim Miller Photography

Photo by Jim Miller Photography - This area is so remote and wild you'll find hundred mile views with no evidence of human occupation to be seen.

 

 

 

“This map takes my best selling map, combines it with another, and adds new roads I’ve discovered to make the ultimate map for visitors to the Dragon at Deals Gap, it’s all you need!”

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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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The Best Motorcycle Rides NORTH of Great Smoky Mountains National Park – NEW MAP

Photo - map cover

The newest motorcycle pocket map, “The Best Motorcycle Rides NORTH of Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” is the latest release from America Rides Maps adding a host of  great new motorcycle roads never publicized before to the already extensive collection from north Georgia to north Virginia.

 

The focus of this map was to locate and identify the best rides, shortcuts, and bypasses to avoid the traffic and congestion in one of the most popular tourist areas in the nation – the north side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

“I’ve avoided this area for years” says Wayne Busch, cartographer, explorer, and designer for America Rides Maps. “Now I have new favorite roads I ride again and again”.

Photo - image of map

The most thorough coverage of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Having completed the revisions and updates to the 6 Map Blue Ridge Parkway Series this winter, this new map is the second of three  maps which will form the Smoky Mountain Series.

The first, “The Best Motorcycle Rides Near Smoky Park – EAST “ contains the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Cherokee and follows it east to Asheville.

The third map in the Smoky Mountain Series will combine and expand on several maps which currently detail the wealth of great motorcycle rides south of the national park.

Between the three maps, more than 100 outstanding motorcycle rides will be detailed surrounding Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

“I‘ve already got the most detailed and comprehensive coverage of great motorcycle rides which connect or lie adjacent to the entire length of the 469.1 mile long Blue Ridge Parkway”, Wayne reports, “These maps expand that parkway experience and add to it some of the most challenging motorcycle roads found anywhere including the famous “Dragon” at Deals Gap”.

Expect the final map in the Smoky Mountain Series, “The Best Motorcycle Rides SOUTH of Great Smoky Mountains National Park”  in about a month.

America Rides Maps – http://AmericaRidesMaps.com – The most comprehensive, inexpensive, easy to use motorcycle pocket maps

BUY THIS MAP HERE  – http://shop.americaridesmaps.com/Map-8-Best-Rides-NORTH-of-Smoky-Park-NC020.htm

  • Standard Paper – $5.00
  • Water / Tear Resistant – (Best Value) – $5.99
  • Heavy Duty Waterproof – $8.00

Free Shipping via 1st Class mail included!

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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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Finding Great Motorcycle Rides North of Smoky Mountains National Park

Another long day on the road, another loop of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in search of the best motorcycle rides north of the big forest. The wonderfully warm weather we’ve been enjoying has slipped back into the winter norms, though it was still nice to be out riding. The day ended with a long ride home in the rain with temps in the 40’s but it was well worth it.

Photo - roadside waterfall near Wears Valley

Waterfall along US 321 near Wears Valley, TN. While it's pretty to look at, US 321 is one of the last roads you want to be caught on if you're looking for enjoyable riding. Even mid-winter, the traffic takes all the fun out of the ride.

While I’ve pretty much scoured the mountains from north Georgia to north Virginia looking for the best motorcycle rides for America Rides Maps, this area north of Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one I’ve shunned until now. I know the tourist routes through it – and avoided it because of them. The traffic and congestion that is drawn to Gatlinburg, Sevierville, and the surrounding cities chokes the major roads so much it takes all the enjoyment out of riding a motorcycle. With Knoxville, Oak Ridge, and Maryville all growing and expanding, the winding mountain roads bare a heavy burden of local and commercial traffic. Add to that the millions of tourists drawn by the nations most visited National Park, the Smokies, and things can grind to a miserable crawl.

Photo - tree in roadway

High winds recently, including today, keep you on your toes on the back roads. If you're not skirting around trees, you're dodging rocks loosened by rains. Some of these roads still have a good deal of gravel and sand left from the last snow. You come to expect this of winter riding in the mountains.

It’s a tangled web of roads along the north side of the smokies, but I’m already happy with what I’ve found. Sorting through them has been full of surprises. As always, if you really look for them, great motorcycle rides are there to be found. I’ve already got some real gems, roads I ride over and over in my travels. I can duck in and out of Gatlinburg with little care for the traffic on some great hidden roads. I’ve already found ways to cruise right through all the chaos like it didn’t exist. Now I’m seeking the roads that link all these gems together, and I found a bunch more today.

At this rate, the new motorcycle ride map will be finished soon. I’ve found great rides near The Dragon at Deals Gap few know about. I’ve discovered some that play with the Foothills Scenic Parkway. A few go into Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The best ones though, are those that are just the roads less traveled. If you’re in a car, there are faster or more direct ways to reach your destination. On a motorcycle, destination doesn’t matter so much – it’s all about the ride, and these are some great 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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Deals Gap, NC -Tail of the Dragon Reopening April 12

PRESS RELEASE
April 9, 2010
For Immediate Release
Contact:
Ron or Nancy Johnson
800-768-7129 or 828-479-8400
Tail of the Dragon, LLC

Tail of the Dragon Reopening

April 12, 2010

ROCK SLIDE UPDATE April 9, 2010:

The rock slide on US 129 is located between the Dragon and Happy Valley Road/Foothills Parkway.

TDOT has announced in a press release that the 11 mile section known as the Tail of the Dragon will be open from 8 am to 8 pm beginning Monday April 12, 2010. The only access is from North Carolina US 129. THP announced that there will be zero tolerance for traffic violations, so I’d travel the Tail with extreme caution. Please obey the traffic laws and report any undue harassment to us. We will forward all complaints to the Tennessee and North Carolina senators and representatives who worked so hard to get the road open.

We will continue to post the latest information here so keep in touch. The only alternatives from 8 pm to 8 am are the Cherohala Skyway and US 441 through the Great Smoky Mountains. There are many great roads in North Carolina and the Cherohala Skyway is clean.

http://tailofthedragon.com

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