The Ten Best Paved Motorcycle Roads in America
Part Three 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. #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
Part Three – The Pacific Coast Highway #3
The majority of this iconic road is in California but as US101 it extends all the way from San Clemente, CA to Discovery Bay, WA. With a length of approximately 1,600 miles it is the longest of all the roads in my list.
Many lists rank this road as number one. In fact, if you close your eyes your memory might conjure up an old vision of Dina Shore driving a Chevrolet on this road.
I must admit that in my original listing I had this road ranked somewhat lower. But having just returned from riding this road again on a USA Four Corners Tour, I had to move it up. I can safely say I have now ridden at least 98% of the entire length at least once and some portions multiple times.
On the USA Four Corners Tours I rode the section of the highway from San Francisco north to Cresent City, CA for the first time. Oh my gosh!!
Just the experience of riding your bike over the historic Golden Gate Bridge can bring chill bumps. And the road from there north to Garberville, CA is like the oceanfront version of Deal’s Gap.
My original reasons for ranking the whole road lower centered on the high amount of traffic on the road, its sometime state of poor repair, weather conditions (mainly fog) that can often totally zero out the scenery, and just the length of it making the decision on what section to ride difficult.
Fog is often the case in Oregon and Washington.
Few of us can devote the time to ride all 1,600 miles so I would call out two sections as the most scenic to start with.
The first would be from San Francisco going south to Big Sur. This approximately 150 mile section is loaded with views of arguably the most beautiful coastline in the world. And, yes, I would start by crossing the Golden Gate Bridge headed south.
This segment will take you through Santa Cruz, Monterey, Carmel, before you reach Big Sur. You will know that you are nearing Big Sur when you cross the famous Bixby Bridge. The bridge is a single-span concrete arch more than 260 feet high and 700 feet long. It is one of the most photographed sites on the Pacific Coast Highway.
The Big Sur section of the highway is the oldest portion which was opened in the 1930s.
The second section I recommend would be again starting in San Francisco but heading north instead to Garberville. This section is a bit longer, about 250 miles, but exposes you to the tightest sections of the highway just north of San Francisco.
While both of these preferred sections are in California, don’t discount the Oregon and Washington lengths of the route. The further north you go the fewer sandy beaches there are as the coast line takes on a different character up there. Green can go almost to the water’s edge and rock out croppings and islands are more typical.
No matter what section of the road your course takes you on I know you will enjoy this scenic highway (weather permitting).
When you get back from California, Oregon or Washington you are gonna say, “Ole Buck was right about this one, too!”
#3 Pacific Coast Highway Click this link to download the GPX file.
The next article in the series is coming soon to the BMWMCON web site.