Motorcycles use caution – Rocks and Ice on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Early spring means early season motorcycle riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but nightly freezes cause lots of small rock slides.


Rocky sections along the parkway are prone to slides

The National Park Service has done an outstanding job keeping the Blue Ridge Parkway open through the winter season as much as possible. I can’t remember spending as much time up there on my motorcycle, usually I’m on skis this time of year.


Rocks in the road are a common hazard

Warm and sunny days through this mild winter often find me pointing my wheels to the high country to take advantage of the nearly empty scenic road as it carves along the high ridge tops more than 5000 ft in elevation. Clear winter skies mean you can see into the surrounding states on the horizon, and the naked trees reveal what is hidden in the forested valleys spread out below.


If you see evidence of a large slide, be alert for the smaller ones which often follow.

Once darkness comes, the temperatures dive below freezing and sheets of ice build on the wet rock faces that line the roadway. As the sun warms them the next day, the ice melts and rains down along the roadside, and the repetitive freezing and melting cracks and loosens the rocks above causing small slides.


When the sun hits the rocks, the ice quickly melts and falls.

The park service is quick to remove the bigger slides as they occur and you’ll see the piles of rock pushed to the roadside. Throughout the day the process continues and it’s not uncommon to find rocks in the road when the road carves along the rocky cliffs.


Rocks, ice, and water litter this section of the road

Be alert whenever you see exposed rock along the roadside, particularly when rounding shady curves. The road may be clear where the sun rarely reaches, but as you come into the sunny side there may be surprises in the road.

1 minute video shows how noisy and active the melting and falling ice can be. It’s worth a stop to watch the spectacle.


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 –

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



Popular Blue Ridge Parkway feature destroyed


The sign at the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway

What a surprise as our motorcycles rounded the bend on my favorite section of the Blue Ridge Parkway July 4 to find a familiar and highly visited overlook feature missing. We had to stop for a closer look.

It’s one of those classic photo opportunities on your Blue Ridge Parkway motorcycle ride – the highest point of the 469 mile roadway is prominently marked with a large sign at the popular overlook. You can pull your bikes right in front of it and get that great picture to commemorate your visit – until now. That sign is missing.


It used to be a classic photo spot - pull your bikes in front of the sign and get the picture for your scrapbook

My first though was it had been struck by a car. It would have had to be a big car though, at least an SUV, maybe even a small truck, but the evidence did not show signs of a collision.


Surveying the damage we speculate the sign was pushed over. Look at the bent steel supports, and the damage to the rock pillars up high.

The damage was too high, and it appeared more as if it had occurred from the top down. The twisted steel and fractured rock indicated the sign had probably been forced down by high wind, though it must have been one heck of a blow. Perhaps it was a tornado or one of those micro-burst events. At over 6000 feet elevation you can experience some pretty severe weather.


The view from the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Still, this sign has stood through harsh conditions for many years. I’m glad I wasn’t up high when this damage occurred. We’ve had extraordinarily unusual weather in the Smoky Mountains this year. Until now, I would have told you tornados don’t happen in the mountains. Great Smoky Mountains National Park has experienced a couple, you can still see the twisted steel tower in the middle of the lake at Deals Gap left when that cyclone blew through, and  I no longer know what to expect. Times are changing and the southeast has been pummeled with twisters this year.

If it’s the end-of-times, I’m going out riding my motorcycle. Watch me flash by in the twister like the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz. See you on the yellow brick road.

You’ll find this outstanding motorcycle riding area featured on America Rides Maps “The Best Motorcycle Rides South of Great Smoky Mountains National Park


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 – 

Riders Roost Restaurant – Motorcycles stop here on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Image - Riders Roost Restaurant sign

Riders Roost Restaurant - watch for this sign

Joanne finally got the new Riders Roost Restaurant signs up after a car took out the old ones on the icy winter roads leading down from the Blue Ridge Parkway at Soco Gap (US 19) near Maggie Valley (LINK TO MAP). Just a little more than a mile downhill from the Blue Ridge Parkway exit heading east, the Riders Roost Restaurant offers the motorcycle traveler and good meal in a beautiful setting convenient to your travels.

I’d hoped to catch Joanne in the kitchen, but with such outstanding weather over the weekend, she was out on her Harley enjoying it like the rest of us. Can you blame her?


Riders Roost Restaurant - Great food, Great view, Great location

I highly recommend you grab a nice bite to eat and maybe a cold brew on the back porch with it’s commanding view of the mountains. It’s one of my favorite places when the fall colors come, they’re spectacular from the porch.

In addition to the Riders Roost Restaurant, Joanne has her Fireside Cottages available just downhill. Such a nice package – a great place to stay with good food  just minutes from the best section of the Blue Ridge Parkway surrounded by more outstanding motorcycle riding. What could be better?

Photo - motorcycles at the Riders Roost Restaurant

Biker friendly Riders Roost Restaurant is obviously the place to be!

Riders Roost Restaurant

Fireside Cottages


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 – 

100 miles out on the Blue Ridge Parkway, my motorcycle was stuck in top gear

I’d dropped the bike. Pulling out from a back road along the Blue Ridge Parkway, a car suddenly appeared out of the dense clouds rounding a curve and I stalled the engine on the incline.  It went down hard on it’s left side breaking a turn signal lens and mangling the clutch and shift levers. Minor damage considering I’d avoided the car, but it would prove enough to make the trip home a challenge.

Photo - View From Switzerland Inn

The nicest weather came just before my meeting at the Switzerland Inn -

Already modified from a prior incident (click to read about that debacle) the shift lever was now wedged beneath the side stand. The clutch lever flopped precariously but it was working, and with a decent foot effort I managed to pry the shifter upwards and snick through the gears to get moving again towards Asheville. It was when I tried to downshift for a curve the real problem became apparent. I could not shift into a lower gear.

Thankfully I was on the Blue Ridge Parkway, uninterrupted in its 469 mile length. No stops, no traffic lights, it would be a manageable inconvenience to be restricted to a single gear. The problems would come when I left the parkway and entered the city traffic. At least I’d have plenty of time to come up with a plan on how I’d get home without slowing or stopping.

Photo - bad weather on the Parkway

It's days like this a waterproof camera comes in handy on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Trying to bend the shift lever into a more useful shape was a last resort. Previously bent once, it would likely break if I stressed it any more. I decided I’d need to find a way home where I would not need to stop even once.

Traffic was light. The weather was already miserable at these high elevations and would continue to deteriorate as a strong front moved in. The wind gusted powerfully, rain squalls spit at me, and I was enveloped by thick clouds as I passed by the signs for Mt. Mitchell, then Craggy Gardens. The low fuel light came on as I drew near to Asheville but I knew there was no way I could negotiate traffic, stopping was not an option. I decided I must go on.

In 20 miles or so I’d reach the US 276 exit south of Waynesville. If I could get off the parkway without stalling, then make it down through the switchbacks on the steep incline, there would be but one traffic light to gamble on to reach home.

Cresting the rise that led into Bethel, I saw the light blink from red to green and rolled on the throttle to cleanly pass through it. 10 minutes later I pulled into my driveway. Just another day on the road.

A little video from the day –


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 – 



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 – – The most comprehensive, inexpensive, easy to use motorcycle pocket maps


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

Free Shipping via 1st Class mail included!


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 – 

The Birthplace of Tennessee – Best Seen on a Motorcycle

Photo - marble campfire

Who knows where this is?

It was the middle of nowhere yet it was the center of everything. I’d stumbled upon the birthplace of Tennessee.

I had low expectations. My research told me most of the roads I’d be riding today would hold little interest to the typical motorcycle rider who had come to ride The Dragon at Deals Gap and the Cherohala Skyway. None of the roads I’d ride on my 450+ mile travels would come anywhere close to those legends. Still, the morning held a surprise I never expected and made the efforts worthwhile.

Photo - Cherokee National Forest Road

Parked along Pleasant Mountain Road. It's typical of other roads nearby - of little interest to most. Still I check them all.

Arriving in Tellico Plains, Tennessee, after an early morning motorcycle ride where I’d had the whole of the Cherohala Skyway to myself, I pointed my wheel north onto TN 360 and my workday began. Within a few miles I’d reach the point where I’d previously abandoned my search for great motorcycle rides and the explorations would resume. Rounding a curve a green street sign flashed past with a name I recognized and I clamped on the brakes to swing around.

I could rule this road out as soon as I saw it, it was doubtful it would be of any interest. Consulting my map, I saw it connected to another I wanted to investigate, so I snicked into first gear determined to make quick work of White Plains Road and move on.

Photo - Tanasi Monument

The Tansi Monument - Tennessee gets it's name from here

It met Smoky Branch Road in a few miles where they both intersected Citico Road. I’d eventually loop back through Smoky Branch Road, also of little interest. Obviously Citico Road was the daddy in this area, the main thoroughfare of better quality, decent pavement, and sporting a faded double yellow line, a proper road.

I expected it would quickly peter out, but after several miles it continued to wind and snake through the mostly bland countryside and I started to wonder if it actually went somewhere in the big empty white space on the map. Curiosity aroused, I couldn’t resist investigating the Tanasi Memorial Site when the sign appeared.

Photo - Tanasi Monument

The empty and isolated setting quickly fills with visions of what must have been

Never heard of it. Turning the motorcycle onto Bacon Ferry Road I ventured out into the nothingness on the barely paved bumpy and potholed  single lane that led out onto a low finger of land surrounded by Tellico Lake. I rode past the pull-off, but a quick glance towards the lake had me circling back when I saw the shoreside monument.

Photo - Tanasi inscription

Inscription transcribed below


Capital of the Cherokee Nation


Origin of the Name for the State of Tennessee

The site of the former town of Tanasi, now underwater, is located about 300 yards west of this marker. Tanasi attained political prominence in 1721 when its civil chief was elected the first “Emperor of the Cherokee Nation”. About the same time, the town name was also applied to the river on which it was located. During the mid 18th century, Tansi became overshadowed and eventually absorbed by the adjacent town of Chota, which was to the immediate north. The first recorded spelling of Tennessee as it is today occured on Henry Timberlakes map of 1762. In 1796, the name Tennessee was selected from among several as most appropriate for the nation’s 16th state. Therfore, symbolized by this monument, those who reside in this beautiful state are forever linked to its Cherokee heritage.


Cherokee Tanasi to Tennessee - State. A heritage preserved and honored.

I don’t much adhere to theories of “vortexes” or spirituality, but there’s something about this site that is powerful enough to make it worth a visit, it will be on the new map. It’s worth the ride out to it. See it if you have the chance.


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 – 

Motorcycle the Dragon, the Cherohala Skyway, the Blue Ridge Parkway in one day

Photo - Thermometer at Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort

Thermometer at Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort

It was 80 degrees when I pulled up at the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort yesterday at 5 PM with over 400 miles of Smoky Mountain motorcycle rides already behind me. 8 hours ago I was on the Cherohala Skyway as the soft morning glow and gusty winds made the lonely road seem like it was in another world.  I decided to make the day a trifecta and go home via the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s hard to believe it’s still March, early spring has arrived!

Photo - morning on the Cherohala Skway

Morning on the Cherohala Skyway. I'm parked on the state line between North Carolina and Tennessee.

I had reservations about going out today, I’d been putting it off. I knew I would not find many good motorcycle rides in the areas I was searching. It was either too far out of the mountains or too far to into them. I was hitting the single lane back roads in the National Forests near The Dragon at Deals Gap and the Cherohala Skyway,  as well as the best ways to pass through the semi-urban areas to the north.

Photo - marble campfire

Who knows where this is?

I found something cool out in the Cherokee National Forest that will get it’s own motorcycle blog post shortly. One of the more useful things I discovered is one of the most direct ways to connect The Dragon at Deals Gap to I-75 south of Lenoir City.

Photo - Cherohala Skyway View

A long view of the Cherohala Skyway as it winds into Tennessee

I suspect many riders follow US 129 to Maryville, then take US 321 north when headed for the Interstate. There is  a way to minimize the traffic and avoid more than half of the four lane US 321.

Take TN 72 north from The Dragon at Punkin Center. When you reach US 411, cross it onto the East Coast Tellico Parkway and follow it along the lake area. It will become Axely Chapel Road at the north end and will intersect US 321. These are not outstanding motorcycle rides, but they are a heck of a lot better than the alternatives and get you off the four lane on some scenic and curvy motorcycle roads.

Photo - Calderwood Lake

Calderwood Lake is one of several along US 129

I don’t really care much for riding in this area, but it’s only because there are so many really great motorcycle rides once you get in close to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s hard to shine when pitted against them.

I’ve been mostly focusing on find the connections between the better rides so you can link them together. If you have the time when passing through, they are the most enjoyable motorcycle rides I can find for those who would rather stay on the back roads and savor them. The views are certainly more entertaining. Watch out for turkeys in the road.

Photo - Chillowhee Dam

How many of you have seen the Chillowhee Dam from this side?

My “wake up and dream” cruise on the smooth and sweeping curves of the Cherohala Skyway was the highlight of the morning.  The rest of it was on a web of roads which weave through the more remote and rugged sections of the national forest. A few of them start out as decent paved roads, but quickly diminish to single lane unmarked trails that become more potholed and full of gravel as you go. On most, the pavement ends long before the road does.

Photo - motorcycles at Delas Gap Motorcycle Resort

5 PM on a Tuesday evening in late March at the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort

I’ll need at least one more good day to cover this area as thoroughly as I’d like. I’ve hit almost all the roads. The challenge now is how they work together to become the best motorcycle rides through the area, how well do the linked roads flow, can I find ways to make the good motorcycle rides last longer?

I know I can!

(Click on photos for larger views)


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 – 

Greenville IMS Show is past – Asheville Bikefest coming May 12-15

Photo - Asheville Bikefest booth at Greenville IMs show

I don't look busy, do I. The crowds were distracted for a moment by the stage shows.

It’s the morning after the Greenville International Motorcycle Show and I’m beat. It was my first IMS show and it’s quite a step up from what I’ve seen previously – not that I had much time to see what was going on. I rarely left the Asheville Bikefest / America Rides Maps booth. It was my wife who snapped these photos when she popped in for a visit on Saturday and brought me something to eat.

Gary from the Switzerland Inn came down Sunday to help promote the Diamondback Motorcycle route. He’s a great guy and it’s always good to see him. The Diamondback Motorcycle lodge is already booked through the year on weekends, but he’s ready to work some mid week deals for your Blue Ridge Parkway travels. Me, I prefer staying in the Switzerland Inn itself. I ride long and hard and when I come in for the night I want all the luxury and pampering I can get. Park me at one of the bars, give me a great meal, watch the sunset over the mountains from the veranda and then recuperate in the spacious rooms. I deserve it. So do you.

Photo - Mark and Yvonne work their tails off

Mark and Yvonne Cresswell of World Wide Dynamics - promoters for the Asheville Bikefest ... and Sturgis... and Laconia.... and Leesburg... and...

Bill Kneigge from Blue Strada Tours also spent some time with us. He also works with Edlewiess Tours International and he’s one of those guys that everyone likes as soon as you meet him. We’re doing our best to get him to coordinate the guided tours for the Asheville Bikefest and Blue Ridge Run. I seem to run into him everywhere with his tour clients from around the world when I’m out on the road. It’s always a treat to see Bill.

I’ve got a lot of contacts to follow up on as I look to expand what America Rides Maps offers. The Blue Ridge Parkway and Deals Gap Classic Rides maps are selling like candy. I had a good meeting with motorcycle rider wear, and have some things cooking with Liberty Sports motorcycle eyewear. I’m really excited about which is about ready to launch (the site’s still under development, but not for much longer).

Photo - working the Greenville IMs show

There we go, look at my big happy smile! I really enjoy meeting everyone.

I could go on and on but I’m just too exhausted. There’s so much to do to get ready for the Asheville Bikefest and Blue Ridge Run May 12-15. I’ll probably pass on Daytona, but I’m putting some serious thought into Leesburg. That’s a nice rally and I love meeting and talking with those Florida riders.

Thank you everyone who stopped by to see us. You make it worth all the effort.  I’m open to suggestions regarding the Asheville Bikefest and Blue Ridge Run and hope to exceed your expectations.


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 – 

Rare Valentines Day Parkway Motorcycle Ride

I made my first motorcycle ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway today way earlier than expected. I found the gates open in Blowing Rock and I turned south to enjoy what winter had to show. A few deep snowdrifts still lingered along the road in shady spots, but most of the rest had melted.  It was good to be back on the nations most popular motorcycle ride. I can’t wait for the southern section to open.

Photo - Feb ride on the parkway

Stopped on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain. The Lynn Cove Viaduct is just above my bike. Beautiful day even with the high winds.

I enjoyed some great views of Grandfather Mountain and the Lynn Cove Viaduct. It was lined with snow and very pretty. The Blue Ridge Parkway is wonderfully free of the gravel and salt that covers nearly every other road in the Smoky Mountains right now, though there were a few spots with some sand on them. There was a high wind advisory in effect today and it was howling up on the ride, but I enjoyed it all the same. No trees had come down (yet), though there were some branches to dodge. Keep your eyes out for rocks in the road with the thaw, and crews are out working on projects.

Photo - Lynn Cove Viaduct

The Lynn Cove Viaduct. It's the newest section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the last piece completed in 1983. It was cutting edge for the time.

My fun was too short as I hit the first road closure south of Grandfather Mountain. I ducked around it with one of my fun little shortcuts, but had to leave Blue Ridge Parkway in Linville. I couldn’t resist making up run up the Diamondback on the way home. It was in pristine shape and I was on the edge of my tires until the last few switchbacks near the top of the mountain. Here I ran into the sand and salt again and wiggled my way to the top as quickly as it would allow. Unfortunately the parkway was closed here at both exits. I’m still thankful for what I got!

Photo - grandfather Mountain

It's no wonder this area is so well known. There is a great view of the Viaduct from below on US 221 and it's an outstanding motorcycle ride from Grandfather Mountain to Blowing Rock as is the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Tomorrow, a short video of the ride up the Diamondback.


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 – 

Wife – “Did you see what happened to your motorcycle last night?”

Not the first words you want to hear in the morning. A wind storm tore through the Smoky Mountains last night and wreaked havoc at our house. Stuff blown everywhere. Unfortunately, some of that stuff hit my motorcycle – hard.


It looks like my Tiger chipped a tooth. A heavy wooden pallet blew over onto it. This is gonna be expensive.

It blew all my maintenance supplies off the shelf, broke a jar full of cleaning brushes, wrecked my air pump, and I bet I find more bad news as I clean it all up.


What a mess. That pallet in the background will soon be kindling wood for the fireplace.

Things are settling down now and the sun is coming up. I suppose it’s not quite as bad as the time a stack of firewood blew over onto my wife’s new car. It’s what I get for forgetting that episode.

Occasionally harsh weather is nothing out of the ordinary in the Smoky Mountains, the price you pay for living in the best motorcycle riding area in the country. Sometimes that price is painful, but it’s well worth the cost. The Triumph dealer will collect the dues this time.


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 –