Motorcycle Rides Near Me in North Carolina

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Have you ever asked the question:  Where are the best motorcycle rides near me in North Carolina (NC)? 

Whether you are simply looking for some new motorcycle rides & roads in North Carolina you have never been on or if you are really focused on trying to find the very best motorcycle rides in North Carolina, finding out all your motorcycle road choices and options can be more challenging than you realize.  Even for motorcycle riders with many years of riding experience driving motorcycles in The Tar Heel State can find an incredible motorcycle ride that they had driven near or past for years without ever thinking to give it a try.  Or, these same riders may just happen to talk to another motorcycle rider and learn about some nearby great motorcycle roads in an area that they’ve never thought to check out.  So, (McR) has put together this short little guide aimed at helping you better answer the question - What are my best options for motorcycle rides near me in North Carolina?”  

*Rankings for North Carolina 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 North Carolina

First, I need to tell you about some motorcycle riding HOTSPOTS across the United States.  After 20+ years of collecting data on approximately 2000 US motorcycle roads & rides, motorcycle rider reviews and ratings of those motorcycle roads, along with countless photos and videos, it has become clear that some regions of the United States have become motorcycle riding Hotspots.  As you'll learn, these motorcycle riding hotspots can be in different parts of the country, can be in areas that are well known to offer amazing scenery or can be in some areas that don't have such a reputation.  However, there are a variety of reasons that motorcycle riders gravitate to certain parts of the country and so every rider has their own preferences and so an area that may not sound like a great region to you, may be a paradise of motorcycle roads for another rider.  And, one of the US motorcycle riding hotspots is conveniently located in the southwestern portion of the state of North Carolina ... so you won't have to travel as far as so many less fortunate motorcycle riders do to get to their nearest hotspot. Each of these hotspots act like “magnets for motorcycling” and are depicted in the map image below.

US motorcycle riding hotspots

Nearest Motorcycle Riding Hotspot for North Carolina Motorcycle Riders: The Blue Ridge Box

blue ridge box motorcycle riding hotspot

North Carolina motorcycle riders are simply blessed when it comes to access to great motorcycle riding roads as their beautiful state is part of the incredible collection of motorcycle rides in the hotspot known as The Blue Ridge Box.  As hotspots go, this one really stands out for having some particularly highest quality and popular motorcycle roads.  The Blue Ridge Box is an approximate 50x50 mile “box” located at the southern end of the Blue Ridge mountains and including portions of SE Tennessee, SW North Carolina, NE Georgia, and NW South Carolina.  This concentrated collection of spectacular motorcycle rides is home to a motorcycle ride that has been named a top motorcycle ride in the USA as long as the site has been running: The Tail of the Dragon (AKA Deal’s Gap).  The Tail of the Dragon draws enough attention and motorcycle riders from around the world that it alone could arguably represent a motorcycle riding hotspot in and of itself; yet the Blue Ridge Box contains many, many more top motorcycle roads including the following:


Iconic US Motorcycle Rides

Now if you are interested in not just in motorcycle riding hotspots in the USA but instead the hottest/most-popular individual motorcycle rides across the entire USA, then I need to be introduced to some motorcycle rides that have reached iconic status. Fortunately for North Carolina motorcycle riders one of them is located in North Carolina and another is just over the TN/NC border.  These are the kinds of motorcycle rides that all true motorcycling riding enthusiasts should add to his/her motorcycle riding bucket list.  The short list of these iconic motorcycle rides in the USA are as follows:


  tail of the dragon photo

The Dragon – As mentioned above in the Blue Ridge Box discussion, this route starts at the North Carolina and Tennessee border, heads north into Tennessee, and goes by many different 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 probably 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.   





Motorcycle Riding in the state of North Carolina  

So far we have told you about North Carolina's nearest motorcycle riding hotspot, the Blue Ridge Box, as well as iconic US motorcycle roads that are spread out around the USA.  But if you simply want to know what the best motorcycle rides near you in North Carolina are, then read on as I describe 5 of the very best motorcycle rides in North Carolina below.  The state of North is endowed with some of the greatest motorcycle rides in all of America as it is host to quite an impressive diversity of inspiring scenery. Starting in the western part of the state, motorcycle riders will find outstanding Blue Ridge Mountains riding. As riders move east, the topography flattens out and you find large swaths of territory running down east central and central North Carolina known as the Piedmont Plateau. This area features green rolling hills with many rock outcroppings and miles and miles of heavily forested terrain. Moving further east to the Atlantic Coastal Plain area will bring motorcycle riders to an area characterized by many rivers and even marshes, swampland and often times used for agriculture. The 5 great North Carolina motorcycle rides have each been some of the highest ranked motorcycle rides in North Carolina for years as our McR ranking algorithm doesn't let a newly added ride simply jet right up to the top of the list but instead makes the route earn its popularity over time by looking at many different factors that indicate a motorcycle road's quality (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 North Carolina was current at the time of the publication of this guide to the best motorcycle rides near me - North Carolina (date of last update is found at the top of this guide after the * and under the introduction). Currently there are an impressive 88 North Carolina motorcycle roads registered on McR; this is far above the national average of about 35 registered motorcycle roads per state.  And, North Carolina not only has a lot of registered motorcycle rides but many of those are also great motorcycle rides as many of those are found in the Top 100 Motorcycle Rides in the USA

Aside from the North Carolina scenery highlights above, below we've given you a short description of 5 of the best motorcycle rides in North Carolina (complete/updated listing of all North Carolina motorcycle rides).

The Top-5 Best Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina: 

the Cherohala Skyway north carolina motorcycle ride.jpg
1.  Cherohala Skyway

Begin at Tellico Plains, about 25 miles south of I-75, and take Highway 165 and continue to National Forest Road. Take a right to the Cherohala Skyway for a mile and head back to follow the signs to Robbinsville, NC. There are no facilities for about 40 miles (except restrooms) and little population you can see from the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway. Tellico River, at Tennessee, is famous for its trout fishing and a challenging canoe and kayaking. Towns at Tellico Plains are great to stop for a bite and gas fill. Don’t give into the temptation of riding too fast at the curves.


blue ridge parkway north carolina motorcycle ride.jpg
2.  Blue Ridge Parkway

You can start by heading towards Waynesboro from interstate 64 for the upper half, or begin at Wytheville for the middle half, or even begin from the town of Cherokee to start from the south and head upwards. The northern half runs through the Virginia country side, with several sites such as an old mill pond and Civil War battle sites. The lower half mostly covers the Great Smokey Mountains of North Carolina with beautiful overlooks. The limited access makes it a great North Carolina motorcycle ride.


hell bender 28 north carolina motorcycle ride
3.  The Hellbender 28

This is a great motorcycle riding experience with several sweeping curves and drop offs on the lakeside in the Great Smokey Mountains. Some of the most beautiful views in all of America are seen along the Fontana Lake. Water, dense forests and mountains make up some great views between the ‘Dragon’ and the Deals Gap on this 22-mile ride. There is a motorcycle-friendly resort at Fontana Village that offers lodges, cabins, camping and boathouses for rent.


devils whip north carolina motorcycle ride
4.  North Carolina's Route 80 (AKA Devil's Whip)

It begins at a town called Pleasant Gardens in North Carolina, passes through Blue Ridge as you stay on NC 80 and continues north to Us Highway 19 and ends in Micaville, NC. The ride takes you up 2,500 feet, showcasing great views of a lake and Mt. Mitchell gold course. The Dragon’s Tail region has the least traffic with a lot of curve changes and elevations. Not a road for a novice rider!


beginners beware north carolina motorcycle ride.jpg
5.  "Beginners Beware"

You pretty much know what to expect on this route by the fact that it travels through a town/area known as Little Switzerland; incredible mountain scenery.  Along with that great mountain scenery comes great twisty mountain roads that as the author warns will make it hard for you to take your eyes off the road to take in the surrounding North Carolina views.  There are also some nice mom and pop restaurants and some gas stations along the drive so you’ll be able to pull over and enjoy a break and full up when needed. 

Lastly, North Carolina is a place for those with diverse interests to unwind and explore. From natural spectacles from mountains to beaches, the state also houses some of the best museums in the country. It is also a good fit for those with historical interests.  Whatever your interests are, the state really makes it easy to put together a great motorcycle trip because you can simply combine any of the great motorcycle roads listed on McR with any of the many great tourist destinations/attractions.  For your reference, a summary of some of the best such locations are listed and described below:

  • The North Carolina Museum of natural sciences, the very first in the state, offers seven floors of interactive exhibits for any age group to enjoy and understand. It is made of the Nature Exploration Center, the Nature Research Center, the Prairie Ridge Ecostation and the North Carolina Museum of Forestry.
  • The Battleship North Carolina is the most decorated American battleship from World War II with 15 battle stars. A museum located in Wilmington today, it is regarded a National Historic Landmark. Visitors can take this self-guided two-hour tour across the main deck, two gun turrets and other interior compartments.
  • At Elijah Mountain Gem Mine, visitors can mine gemstones and gold to take home. It also has a baby goat petting zoo, the world’s largest gem mine bucket, picnic areas and more. It is open every day all year long.
  • The Wright Brother National Memorial pays homage to the first people to successfully fly an airplane. It showcases the exact spot from where their first airplanes took off and landed along with some reconstructed buildings that show their working conditions. The visitors center features educational displays and houses replicas of two flying machines from as far back as 1902 and 1903.
  • The Wheels Through Time Museum is home to the world’s best collections of rare motorcycles and automobiles with more than 350 machines arranged into a timeline of American History. Antique car rallies, annual motorcycle raffles and other holiday celebrations are hosted here.
  • Moores Creek National Battlefield commemorates the Partiot’s victory in the 1776 Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge. The audio-visual program at the visitors center offers insights into the events of the battle. The park has a picnic area, campsite and a colonial forest walk.
  • The Mountains-to-sea trail spans between the Outer Banks and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage site). It offers hiking and biking along majestic mountain vistas, historic colonial towns, tobacco barns, hardwood and pine forests and some great coastal terrain with paddling at the Neuse River.
  • The Blue Ridge Parkway, also called America’s favorite drive, goes through the Great Smoky National Park in NC to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. It has scenic hiking and biking trails, and offers incredible views of mountains and more at pull-offs, picnic grounds, camping areas and more.
  • The Pisgah National Forest in the Appalachian Mountains in the northwestern part of the state has some very attractive sites. One of them is the Sliding Rock, a 60 ft natural rock water slide. The pool at the bottom is between 50 and 60 °F and 6-7 ft deep. The slide is open from the end of May till Labor Day. The National Forest also has several mountain biking and backpacking trails, waterfalls, rock climbing and fishing sites.


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 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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