Motorcycle Rides Near Me in California

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Have you ever asked the question:  Where are the best motorcycle rides near me in California (CA)? 

Whether you are simply looking for new motorcycle rides & roads in California to try or if you are specifically trying to find the very best motorcycle rides in California, learning of all your motorcycle ride options may be more difficult than you realize.  Even motorcycle riders with years of experience riding in the Golden State can stumble on to a great motorcycle ride that they had driven past a thousand times.  Or, these riders happen to talk to another motorcycle rider and find out about a local/great motorcycle road in an area that they’ve never thought to try.  So, (McR) has put together this quick guide to help you definitively answer the question - “What are my best options for Motorcycle Rides Near Me in California?”  

*Rankings for California motorcycle rides were accurate at the time this guide was published/updated in Feb of 2020 (for more information, see Note 1 at the bottom of this article).  Additionally, McR uses a proprietary algorithm to calculate motorcycle ride popularity (for more information, see see Note 2 also at at the bottom of this article). 

Closest US Motorcycle Riding Hotspot to California

First, if you are a California motorcycle rider that is willing to travel a bit to wherever the best motorcycle rides are, then I need to tell you about some motorcycle riding HOTSPOTS across the United States.  After 20+ years of collecting data on 1,000s of great US motorcycle roads & rides, motorcycle rider reviews and ratings of those motorcycle roads, along with thousands of photos and videos, it has become clear that some regions of the USA are simply motorcycle riding Hotspots.  And, the particular motorcycle riding hotspot that is the nearest to the state of California is located to not too far away in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.  I'll provide you some specific information about that hotspot below but you need to realize that there are other hotspots located in different regions of the US that you may want to consider traveling to at some point in your "motorcycle riding lifetime."  Each of these hotspots act like “magnets for motorcycling” and are depicted in the map image below.

US motorcycle riding hotspots


Showcase: The Colorado Rockies Motorcycle Riding Hotspot

mc riding hotspot near utah - colorado rocky mountains

The nearest motorcycle riding hotspot to California is the hotspot that is probably the least surprising of the list - The Colorado Rockies.  California and the Colorado Rockies are a distance apart and naturally making a trip to this motorcycle mecca of sorts will involve proper planning and a bit of a ride.  For your reference, both Grand Junction and Durango are moderately sized Colorado towns on its western boarder, closest to California, to get to these towns from say San Francisco, CA would involve about 15-hours of driving.  From LA, CA to Grand Junction, CO would involve about 11-hours of driving and to get from San Diego, CA to takes about 12-hours of drive time.  However, if you are a California motorcycle rider looking for a "target rich environment of great motorcycle rides" then the Colorado Rockies is going to be one of your best possible choices!  Once in Colorado, you would want to focus on the particular regions of the Colorado Rockies that stand out for motorcycle rides those areas that truly shine are the Southwest corner (the Durango, CO area) and the North-central region (just west of Fort Collins, CO).  A few of the particular motorcycle rides you want to focus on while in this area are suggested below:

Since the remaining three motorcycle riding hotspots are significantly further away than the Colorado Rocky Mountain hotspot, rather than provide you with a lengthy description of those other hotspots, instead I'll just provide you with a link to the Motorcycle Rides Near Me in the USA guide where, if you are interested in planning an epic motorcycle trip, you can find the full report on those great US hotspots of motorcycle riding.


Iconic US Motorcycle Rides

Now if you are interested in not just hotspots but the USA's hottest individual motorcycle rides that are generally considered to be the very best motorcycle roads in the entire USA, then I need to tell you about the motorcycle rides that have reached iconic status. And, fortunately for you, one of these iconic motorcycle rides is located in your state of California!  Overall, these are rides that all die hard motorcycling riding enthusiasts should add to his/her motorcycle riding bucket list.  The short list of these premium motorcycle rides in the USA are as follows:


  tail of the dragon photo

The Dragon – This is a route that starts at the North Carolina and Tennessee border and goes north from there for 11-miles into Tennessee.  This motorcycle ride goes by many names such as The Dragon, the Tail of the Dragon, Deal’s Gap, and/or the Dragon’s Tail.  Call it what you want, but this is most likely the most famous motorcycle road in the entire world … yes, world.  It is known for its collection of incredible curves compressed into a short stretch of 11-miles ... 318 curves in those mere 11-miles.   


  blue ridge parkway photo

The Blue Ridge Parkway – like The Tail of the Dragon discussed above, the next iconic motorcycle ride is also world famous yet this is anything but a short ride as it covers a whopping 469-miles!  This route is covers large portions of both Virginia and North Carolina and has been enchanting both motorcycle riders and car drivers for decades.


  three sisters motorcycle ride texas

Three Sisters – the next iconic motorcycle ride takes us down way down south & “deep in the heart of Texas” with a motorcycle ride that also goes by a few different names (Ranch Roads 335, 336,337a, or “The Twisted Sisters,” or simply “The Three Sisters”) and is positioned in an area known as Texas Hill country just northwest of San Antonio, Texas.  The ride has a cult following of riders and like the other iconic rides, draws motorcycle riders in from not just the USA but all parts of the world. 


  pch motorcycle ride

Hwy 1 - Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) – Beyond a doubt, the most iconic motorcycle ride in the west is the Pacific Coast Highway and is also one of the most famous scenic drive in all of the world.  This quintessential road trip up (or down) the California coast became popular when it was glamorized by a variety of movies and TV shows and has only grown in popularity over time.  It offers gentle curves and breathtaking scenery as well as world class amenities along the coast and in the cities/towns that grace its path.  


  tunnel of trees motorcycle ride michigan

If you’re looking for a iconic motorcycle ride in the Midwest, The Tunnel of Trees Road is like the PCH of the Midwest and like PCH (described above), this route is also a “shore hugger.”  It offers riders great lake shore scenery off to the west with a canopy of green foliage from above.  The ride is a favorite among Midwestern motorcycle riders and is particularly captivating in the fall when the autumn colors mesmerize riders as the ride beneath a canopy of golds, oranges, and scarlet reds.  


  beartooth motorcycle ride montana wyoming

The last iconic American motorcycle ride on our list is the most extreme in many aspects as it is located in a sparsely populated area in northern Wyoming and crossing over into an equally sparsely populated area of Southern Montana and is referred to as Beartooth Pass .  The route is extreme for the fact that for the sheer mountain cliffs and switchbacks as well as the fact that it can throw snow & ice into the mix as late as July.  It not only offers riders unrivaled mountain scenery but also has the added bonus of putting riders within a short drive to the quintessential US National Park - Yellowstone.   





So far I have told you about California's nearest motorcycle riding hotspot as well as some iconic US motorcycle roads that are spread out around the USA. Yet if you are not up for that level of long-distance travel and simply want to find the answer to the question - "Where are motorcycle rides near me in California?", then read on as I describe 5 of the very best motorcycle rides in California below.  Each of these rides has been a top ranked motorcycle ride in California for years as our McR ranking algorithm (see note 2 below) doesn't let a newly added ride simply jet right up to the top of the list of motorcycle roads but instead factors in the route's popularity over time by looking at many different factors that indicate a motorcycle road's popularity (e.g., page views for that motorcycle road, the number of motorcycle riders following that route, the number of times that route has been saved to riders' To Ride list, the number of times that motorcycle ride has been saved to a riders' Rode It list, the number of motorcycle ride photos or videos that have been uploaded to that page, etc, etc.).  Keep in mind however, that even though we use a somewhat complex rating algorithm to keep 'undeserving routes' from erratically rising to the top, certainly the ratings can & do change over time and so the list you see below of the best motorcycle rides in California was current at the time of the publication of this guide to the best motorcycle rides near me - California (date of last update is found at the top of this guide in the "note" section). Currently there are 113 California motorcycle roads registered on McR ... this makes California the #1 state in the USA for having the MOST registered motorcycle roads on McR!!!  For your reference, the average US state has about 35 registered motorcycle roads and so this puts California at three times the national average for registered motorcycle roads.  And, not only does California do well in terms of quantity but also does very well in the quality department as many California motorcycle rides are ranked not only in the Top 100 Motorcycle Rides in the USA but also are ranked very well among the best motorcycle rides in the West


The Top-5 Best Motorcycle Rides in California: 


CA route 36 california twisty motorcycle ride


  1. Twisty Road - Next 140 Miles!!! (California Route 36)

Begin at Red Bluff and go on Highway 36 till you get to Fortuna on this beautiful ride that truly lets you connect with nature (that means no cell reception!). The 140-mile twisty bliss of a road shows you some of the most unexpected elevations. It has some great views, only a couple of gas stations and stops for food. It’s the best motorcycle route in California for its unpredictable, thrilling nature!


PCH california motorcycle ride

  1. Pacific Coast Cruise; Hwy 1

This ride stays on Highway 1 the whole time, north to south from Monterrey to San Simeon. It’s a world-class scenic route selected as one of the 31 US Department of Transportation’s “All American Roads”. Coastal and inland scenery complete with picturesque views of rolling hills, waterfalls, rock outcroppings, valleys, redwood forests, meadows and coastal mountains, is also home to abundant coastal animal life. You would also see several lighthouses, Spanish missions and more along the way. As several amenities are available, the author recommends a week-long vacation in the area!


palomar road california twisty motorcycle ride

  1. The Palomar Mountain Loop

Beginning 21 miles east of the Interstate where Route 76 crosses I-15, the incredible California motorcycle ride leads all the way to Lake Heneshaw and back. It is the “most technical road in Southern California”, opines the author. Mountain climbs (on your motorcycle), great vistas of the surrounding areas, lush green forests in the secluded mountain peak in the Cleveland National Forest, passing by the Palomar Mountain Observatory make this ride simply incredible!


Bakersfield to San Louis Obispo california motorcycle ride

  1. The Lost Highway 58 - Bakersfield To San Luis Obispo

It’s a nice ride with almost non-existent traffic; mostly because even the locals at Bakersfield are unaware of where Highway 58 is and point to Highway 46 instead! Although the road is a bit coarse, the western end offers some narrowing tight turns that make the ride fun. Detour into Simmler if you need gas. Other than occasional farmhouses, there is just a campground in Calf Canyon. It’s a remote and challenging ride, not for the faint of heart.


redwood twisty california motorcycle ride

  1. Twisty Redwood Ride

Rider ratings have brought this stunning highway into the top 5 motorcycle rides of California. Redwood trees, creeks, ferns, beautiful lush forest and rays of sunshine seeping through the canopy, illuminating the forest floor – the ride is 22 miles of pure natural beauty. There are no amenities between Leggett and Hardy; it is simply full of campgrounds RV parks along Highway 1. The roads are smooth, and this route offers some ultimate turns, say reviews.

California is a state that is blessed with an abundance of Pacific shoreline, arid canyons, thrilling Alpine mountain twists, and some of the most attractive cities in the world! It offers bikers and tourists some choicest spots to explore.  Overall, California not only has a lot of great motorcycle roads & rides but it generally has some wonderful destinations and attractions that make it an easy state to put together a great motorcycle riding day-trip, weekend get-away, or mini-vacation.  You can simply add some of the below attractions to any of the great California motorcycle rides and you are set for a great little trip:.

  • The Golden Gate Bridge runs from San Francisco to Marin County. The 1937 suspension bridge was declared a Wonder of the Modern World. It was the tallest (746 ft) and longest (4,200 ft) bridge in the world at the time of its opening. The famous red-orange landmark bridge is among the highest photographed structures in the world!
  • Lake Tahoe, one of the largest lakes in the world, has existed since the ice age making it about 2 million years old. It offers winter activities such as snow skiing, snowmobile riding, snowshoeing and snow-tuning. It is also known for its spring and fall activities like kayaking, paddle baoting, good old swimming, jet skiing and sailing.
  • The Balboa Park is a 1,200-acre urban spectacle! Besides open areas, natural vegetation zones, gardens, paths and green belts, it also contains museums, theaters and the world-renowned San Diego Zoo Safari Park! It also has gift shops and restaurants. The many historic and architectural landmarks in the area led it to being declared a National Historic Landmark District.
  • Dante’s View in Death Valley looks out to the stunning views of North America’s lowest, hottest and driest areas in the Badwater Basin, where temperatures rise up to 134 °F. Mt. Whitney is also visible from here.
  • The Sequoia National Park has the General Sherman, a Giant Sequoia. This area is home to some of the oldest and largest trees in the world. General Sherman tree, the largest in these forests, displays a whooping height of 275 ft and is believed to be more than 2,300 years old.
  • The Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada Mountains offers some unparalleled views. It was designated a World Heritage Site in 1984.  The Tunnel View overlook built in 1993 covers the views of El Capital, Yosemite Valley, Bridalveil Falls and Half Dome.
  • Joshua Tree National Park, east of Los Angeles, is named after the tree native to Mojave Desert. The park is as big as the Rhode Island and conserves parts of two deserts – Mojave Desert and Colorado Desert. It attracts camping, hiking, climbing, bird watching and astronomy enthusiasts.
  • Kings Canyon National Park in the Sierra Nevada is home to the namesake, a rugged glacier-carved mile-deep valley. It also showcases breathtaking views of 14,000 ft mountain peaks, meadows, swift rivers and giant Sequoia trees. Facilities are available in  Grant Grove and Cedar Grove.



Interested in more motorcycle ride articles like this?

  Midwest's Best Motorcycle Rides


The Top 10 Motorcycle Rides in the Midwest  


The Top 10 Motorcycle Rides in the Northeast  
  South's Best Motorcycle Rides


The Top 10 Motorcycle Rides in the South  
  West's Best Motorcycle Rides


The Top 10 Motorcycle Rides in the West  


Note 1:  All facts and figures below were gathered during early Jan 2019 and will change over time as new motorcycle roads are added to the collection. 
Note 2:  How were these popularity ratings calculated? 
A motorcycle road’s popularity can be based on a wide variety of factors.  Our analysis considered some obvious indicators of motorcycle road popularity such each roads’ “Rider Rating” scores (star ratings) and which motorcycle road description pages were visited the most.  But, the analysis dug deeper and looked at some less obvious yet valuable indicators of a motorcycle road’s popularity such as how often a given motorcycle road was added to riders’ “To Ride” lists, how often a given motorcycle road was added to riders’ “Rode it” lists and enthusiasm indicators such how often photos and/or videos were uploaded for a given road and which roads are attracting the most buzz among motorcycle roads indicated by those roads that are receiving the most number of new/recent comments.  For the sake of being consistent and as objective as possible we use a popularity algorithm that “crunches those number” and allows us to develop a ranking of the popularity of each of the motorcycle roads used as a basis for this guide.



As always, I hope to provide you with insightful & valuable motorcycle riding community information to help you get the most out of all of your motorcycling experiences.

I'm always looking for ways to make better and more helpful so if you have any suggestions to improve the website, just contact me through the Feedback button you'll find near the top of every page.  And as always, if you have a favorite motorcycle road of yours that is not yet registered on, please get that favorite of yours "on the map" by registering it at  Registering a motorcycle road (or event, or club, or place) is quick and easy and you'll be helping out our motorcycle riding community!!! 

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