Don’t get stuck in the winter doldrums. Get out and ride on some of the best roads on the planet. Or just start planning your riding trips for the spring and summer.
It’s never too early to plan your dream ride. Here are four great choices to consider.
U.S. Highway 212, Beartooth Highway, Montana and Wyoming: This 67-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 212 between Red Lodge, Mont., and Yellowstone National Park at Cooke City, Mont., zigzags across the Montana-Wyoming border through a series of steep switchbacks, rising from about 5,000 feet to 10,947 feet at Beartooth Pass (above). The route features breathtaking views of the Absaroka and Beartooth Mountains, high alpine plateaus, glacial lakes, forested valleys, waterfalls and wildlife.
California Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway: This 655-mile-long stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway in California should be a must-do ride for every motorcyclist. From Dana Point in Orange County to near Leggett in Mendocino County, the road offers achingly beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean, dramatic, cliff-hugging curves and throwback small towns, especially in northern California. If you can only ride one road in California, this is the one.
U.S. Highway 550, from Ouray to Durango, Colo.: They don’t call the heart of this 25-mile stretch of U.S. 550 “The Million Dollar Highway” for nothing. Though so named for the precious metals that poured out of the region during its mining heyday, the moniker could just as easily describe the views. Sprinkled with sheer drop-offs, hairpin turns and a general lack of guardrails, it makes for a challenging and rewarding ride. Waterfalls, rivers, over and through 12,000-foot mountains, gorges and valleys. There are a dozen routes in Colorado that are amazing. This is the best.
Natchez Trace Parkway, from Natchez, Miss., to Nashville, Tenn.: Stringing together the Cumberland, Tenn., and Mississippi rivers along 440 miles of winding, historical road, the Natchez Trace offers a laid-back experience along a closed-access road in the highland South. Unique among well-known motorcycling roads, the emphasis here is less on curves and technical turns, and more on a smooth, easy cruise, with no cross traffic for much of its length. Following the Trace either direction is a uniquely different experience. Heading northeast, it’s an instant departure from bustling southern cities, and a low climb into the heart of the Tennessee hills. The other way, it’s a slow ride down from the mountains.