The Ten Best Paved Motorcycle Roads in America
Part Ten of an Eleven Part Series
By Mark ‘Buck’ King
Over the last fifteen years I have had the privilege and blessing to have ridden almost all of the top motorcycle roads in the country. Practically every bike magazine and web site has at one time or another published their own list of the top roads. All the lists are a little different. Some list many of the same roads, but in a different order. Some add a different road and leave another out. I really don’t think anyone can rank these roads for anyone but themselves. Your opinion might be quite different from mine, but you won’t know that until you ride these roads for yourself. So I encourage you to quit reading articles like this and get out there and ride them for yourself!
So why eleven parts to the series on the top ten roads? That’s because there are many GREAT roads that didn’t make my top ten that just might be on YOUR top ten lists.
Part Ten – Skyline Drive #10
My tenth ranked road is Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. This 105 mile road is practically in our back yard. I rank it ahead of the Blue Ridge Parkway because so much of the Skyline Drive allows you to look long and hard into the Shenandoah Valley without even pulling off into a scenic view parking lot. You just ride and look all at the same time.
Wikipedia states that the roadway was begun as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project during the Great Depression, construction of the Skyline Drive was both difficult and dangerous. Large cuts were made into the sides of knolls and peaks to allow for a road wide enough to handle traffic. The work began in 1931, and the final section (from Swift Run Gap to Rockfish Gap) was completed and opened in 1939. The Civilian Conservation Corps also had a hand in the construction of Skyline Drive. The CCC graded the slopes on both sides of the roadway, built guardrails, constructed overlooks, and planted thousands of trees and shrubs along the parkway. It has 70 overlooks.
Loft Mountain is one of my favorite stops along the route. There is a coffee shop there and a gift shop. I snapped this photo of Ron Chandler when we were there; notice our bikes through the window.
The red bike in the Loft Mountain picture is my old 1150RT.
I like riding Skyline drive northbound; just a personal preference. From Loft Mountain you are about 70 miles from Front Royal, VA, the northern end of the parkway.
If you are lucky enough to hit this road on a clear day, the views of the valley from the parkways can be simply magnificent. The distant mountain views leave no doubt as to where the name Blue Ridge came from.
I suppose the reason I didn’t rank this road any higher is because of its proximity; I tend to take it a little too for granted.
In places like this I always wonder why the pioneers kept heading east instead of just stopping here. I suppose the ones that kept moving west were the ones that got here after all the land was claimed.
So far I have only been up the Skyway in the spring or summer.
One of the things on my ‘to do’ list is to ride this road in the fall sometime.
I think the colors would be spectacular.
Maybe we can do it together some fall. Then we would both be saying, “Ole Buck was right about this one, too!”
The last article in the series is coming soon to the BMWMCON web site.
#1 is the best road in my opinion so this is my list to this point:
#1 Beartooth Highway and the Chief Joseph Highway
#2 San Juan Skyway
#3 Pacific Coast Highway
#4 Going to the Sun Road
#5 Icefields Parkway
#6 Utah Highway 12
#7 Overseas Highway
#8 Trail Ridge Road
#9 Canada 1 and 95
#10 Skyline Drive