Fall is a colorful time of year to get out on your motorcycle and explore some backroads. These are some of our favorites across the United States.
The best time of year for riding is here. Hot days recede with the evening breeze, pavement glistens with the night’s fresh rain, and deciduous trees are ablaze with warm fall colors. Our motorcycles beckon for the last few rides of the season before many of us have to put them away for winter.
Our list of favorite fall motorcycle rides to check out will hopefully inspire you to get out and enjoy the colorful backroads of this country. If you need to find an excuse to get out on the bike, then consider checking out one of these great routes on Oct. 15, National Motorcycle Ride Day.
No matter the style of bike you choose to throw a leg over, our list of fall leaves rides should keep you coming back for more curves and colors.
Best Fall Foliage Rides in the US
Covered Bridge Loop, CT
The Covered Bridge Loop meanders through woodsy, rural, and primarily deserted roads littered with brilliant fall colors in the state’s northwestern region.
Stop by West Cornwall to ride through a beautifully built, 172-foot, historic covered bridge. Continue through the quaint New England towns of Goshen, Torrington, and Litchfield to the Bull’s Covered Bridge, a single-lane covered bridge over the Housatonic River listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Some places worth getting off the bike to explore:
Coastal Route 1, ME
While there’s ample coastline to appreciate in New England, the most notable for fall rides is the 165-mile stretch of Coastal Route 1 in Maine between Portland and Bar Harbor. The road dips and curves through quintessential New England towns alongside stunning ocean views and displays of fall foliage.
Don’t miss these opportunities to stretch your legs:
Hawk’s Nest, NY
Hawk’s Nest Road (NY Route 97) is the gem you might be seeking for a twisty way to enjoy the fall colors and cool breeze. Garnet-, carnelian-, and citrine-colored leaves spread throughout this 70-mile, curvy cliffside stretch with grand vistas of the Delaware River below.
The curves will hold your attention, so take a pause to enjoy:
Blue Ridge Parkway, NC
Plan to take your time on this well-known, 469-mile parkway ride through the Blue Ridge Mountains and explore nearby towns for shopping, restaurants, and lodging.
Starting in Cherokee, N.C., and ending in Waynesboro, Va., the winding ribbon of uninterrupted asphalt takes you through ridgeline mountain views to valley farmland and offers more than 200 places to stop and take in the breathtaking views. With natural beauty all around, it’s no wonder fall is one of the most popular times to visit.
Stop by some of these more notable points of interest:
- The summit at Mount Mitchell State Park
- Cultural history at the Folk Art Center
- Devil’s Courthouse Trail
Cherohala Skyway, NC
West of Great Smoky Mountains National Park is Cherohala Skyway, a 51-mile ride through ridge after ridge of foliage-packed mountain vistas.
It spans from Robbinsville, N.C., to Tellico Plains, Tenn., and through two national forests, the Cherokee and Nantahala, from which its name derives. The continuous, sweeping curves and scenic views make it one of the best motorcycle rides in the U.S.
While there is gas, lodging, and restaurants in either town, there’s nothing but pavement and scenic overlooks between the two. Don’t miss the Santeetlah Overlook at 5,390 feet — the highest elevation along the route.
The riding will keep you busy, but consider stopping for:
Pig Trail Scenic Byway, AR
Nestled in Ozark National Forest is a 24-mile ride through a tunnel of brilliant fall foliage. The incredibly scenic road twists and turns and offers views of mountains, waterfalls, and rivers.
To get a little more riding in around this area ablaze with fall colors, check out these other scenic byways:
The Tree Tunnel, Upper Peninsula, MI
The Tunnel of Trees Road hugs the eastern shoreline of the Upper Peninsula of Lake Michigan. The surrounding dense forest offers brief glimpses of the coastal bluffs with plenty of places to pull off and admire the fall foliage displays along this 22-mile ride.
While you’re in the area, stop by:
The Three Sisters, TX
Often referred to as the “Three Twisted Sisters,” this 100-mile loop ride is one of the most challenging rides in the state. It’s full of tight curves, sheer dropoffs, canyon views, and picturesque towns.
Nearby, plan to stretch your legs at:
Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive, WI
Soak up the leaves’ changing colors, beautiful lake views, and wildlife on a 29-mile ride that meanders through Kettle Moraine State Forest. This unique area of Wisconsin is brimming with hilly terrain and odd rock structures due to the clash of two massive glaciers that took place millions of years ago.
To catch some scenic views and find out more about the local history, don’t miss:
Historic Columbia River Highway, OR
Skip the interstate and ride the old historic Columbia River Highway road that parallels the gorge, a 60-mile stretch that runs through damp valleys to the high desert in the Cascade Mountain range.
Geological events during the last ice age shaped the gorge into what it is today. The basalt cliffs rise to 4,000 feet on either side, and the road offers views of the mighty Columbia River and a slew of waterfalls flowing into it.
For some ideal rest stops, look for:
Avenue of the Giants, CA
Coastal redwood trees might not first come to mind when thinking about fall rides, but this awe-inspiring 32-mile route is not to be missed any time of year.
The Avenue of the Giants, a road that parallels US-101, ambles through the tallest and largest trees in the world. The majestic wooded views and felled trees provide a fresh perspective on how massive they are.
Don’t miss out on these fun stops:
San Juan Skyway, CO
Head to the curvy roads in the Rocky Mountains to see a ride packed full of fall colors dotting majestic mountain peaks, historic mining towns, red rock canyons, and lush valleys.
This 233-mile loop passes through the San Juan, Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison national forests. It includes a 12-mile section known as the “Million Dollar Highway” that provides spectacular views of the area.
Check out some off-bike excursions:
- Mining towns Ouray, Silverton, and Telluride
- Mesa Verde National Park
- Ouray Hot Springs
Which Best Fall Leaves Motorcycle Rides Are on Your List?
There’s bound to be at least one destination on this list near you. As the season peaks with brilliant hues, get out and enjoy that fresh fall air on your motorcycle. Winter is just around the corner!