With its diverse landscape, breathtaking mountain roads, seaside venues, and mild climate, North Carolina offers many fantastic motorcycle rides. From the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks, a ride through the Tar Heel State is an unforgettable experience.
Not sure where to start your motorcycle trip? Check out our list of the most remarkable motorcycle rides in the gorgeous state of North Carolina.
The Tail of the Dragon
The Tail of the Dragon runs between Tennessee to North Carolina in the Great Smoky Mountains. You can approach it coming from Asheville, NC, or Knoxville, TN. This short ride along U.S. Highway 129 through the Deals Gap mountain pass has an astounding 300 hairpin turns within only 11 miles.
The communities of Tallassee, TN, and Tapoco, NC, are located at the north and south ends of Tail of the Dragon respectively. The historic Tapoco Lodge, built in 1930, is a place of interest that offers a splendid view of the Cheoah River. It’s not far from Robbinsville, NC.
The road takes the rider through the breathtaking scenery of densely forested mountainside. The estimated drive-through time is about 45 minutes. You can easily combine this ride with the Cherohala Skyway.
The Cherohala Skyway
A ride across the Cherohala Skyway in the Great Smoky Mountains will take you through 45 miles of high-altitude, gently curving road with stunning mountain views on both sides. The Cherohala Skyway part of Highway 165 between Robbinsville, NC, and Tellico Plains, TN, takes about 3.5 hours to complete.
Keep in mind that food stops and gas stations are scarce along some stretches of the road, so make sure you have enough gas and bring a few snacks along.
While the Cherohala Skyway offers gorgeous views throughout the year, the red, orange, and russet fall colors are especially breathtaking along this road.
The Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway, part of the U.S. National Parks system, is one of the longest and best-loved motorcycle roads in North Carolina and Virginia. Beginning at the Shenandoah National Park at Afton Mountain in Virginia, it follows the ridgetops southwest for 469 miles to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where it ends in Cherokee, NC.
You might want to set a weekend aside to explore the full range of natural beauty and points of interest along this scenic ride. With a 45-mph speed limit, allow yourself plenty of time.
The NC portion of the route of the Blue Ridge Parkway goes through the outskirts of Asheville and near Boone and Blowing Rock. A highlight is the Linn Cove Viaduct around Grandfather Mountain. At its highest point, the road reaches an elevation of over 6,000 feet. If you feel like getting off your bike for a while, Blue Ridge Parkway offers multiple scenic hiking venues.
Notable spots along the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC include Cherokee, Waterrock Knob, Mount Mitchell, Mount Pisgah, Graveyard Fields, Moses H. Cone Park, and Doughton Park.
Copperhead Loop starts with easy access from Interstate 26 at the intersection of US Hwy 176 with US Hwy 64 and NC Route 280 in Pisgah Forest near Brevard. The 77-mile road offers enjoyable curves, magnificent scenery through the Blue Ridge waterfall country, and multiple notable spots along the way.
Famous attractions to see from the Copperhead Loop include the popular Sliding Rock waterfall, the cascading Looking Glass Falls, Sunburst Falls, and the pristine Lake Logan. You will also have access to the Blue Ridge Parkway (see above)
The route from Duck, NC, along NC Highway 12 to Cape Hatteras is one of the best motorcycle rides in North Carolina if you love ocean breezes. The flat, straight open road of nearly 150 miles doesn’t offer many curves, but riders will enjoy a vista of boundless blue, famously massive dunes, and mellow beaches.
For history buffs, you can also see where the Wright Brothers launched the first aircraft as well as lighthouses and a shipwreck museum (The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum).
Wind, sand, and salt spray may be a nuisance, so make sure you wear full protective gear and slow down when traffic is heavy.
Most lodgings along the Outer Banks welcome motorcyclists, but some have bike restrictions, so make sure you know the rules before you book a weekend getaway.
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