A while back, the American Motorcyclist Association asked members to list the best roads in the country. From hundreds of submissions, their staff distilled the list down to fifteen roads, stretching from the Northwest to the Southeast. Geographically, six of the roads are in the West, six are in the Midwest and only three are from the East; having lived in the East for the past nineteen years, I can tell you that we have a whole lot more than three good roads, especially in the Northeast.
Below are the top five roads in the Eastern U.S., as chosen by both AMA members and yours truly. All are scenic, so their best enjoyed on a bike or in a ragtop; if a coupe or sedan is what you’ve got, just pick a nice day and roll with the windows wide open for the best experience. If I missed a personal favorite of yours, just let me know: I’d be happy to keep growing the list over the coming months. Also, keep in mind that these roads aren’t listed in any particular order, since even the “worst” road on the list is exponentially better than driving the interstate superslab.
Hanover, NH to Mt. Conway, NH
Start your trip in Hanover, New Hampshire. Head north on Route 10, and keep going until it joins with Route 302. Follow Route 10/302 until 302 splits off, heading southeast. Enjoy the scenery as the road wind through the White Mountain National Forest. Consider an overnight stop in North Conway, then take the Kancamagus Highway (Route 112) west, back through the White Mountains. If you’re returning to Hanover, take Route 116 back to Route 10, then head south. If you’re heading north or south and want easy interstate miles, you’ll bisect Interstate 93 on the way.
New Milford, CT to Lime Rock
If you’ve never been to a race at Lime Rock Park, put it on your bucket list immediately. One of the nicest ways to get to Lime Rock is via Route 7 in Connecticut, which only gets better as you head north out of New Milford. When you get close to Lime Rock, look for Route 112 heading west to get to the track. There are plenty of entertaining side roads off of Route 7, so don’t be afraid to explore if you’ve got a GPS or map with you. Watch your fuel gauge, since there fairly significant stretches of road with no gas stations.
Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville, NC is a good starting point for driving the Blue Ridge Parkway. Head south out of Asheville on Route 25, aka Hendersonville Road. Look for the signs marking the Blue Ridge Parkway, then head west when the roads join. Expect slow traffic and limited amenities (bring your own food and start with a full tank of gas), but here’s one road that’s all about the Scenery. You won’t be strafing apexes regularly, but the view more than makes up for it. If you’re planning on driving the whole road (which also goes east outside of Asheville), it’s about 469 miles. Unless you’ve got the time, even a few segments of the Blue Ridge Parkway are entertainment enough.
Deal’s Gap, NC: The Tail Of The Dragon
I’ve got mixed feelings about putting The Tail of the Dragon in this list, since it’s about the most over-hyped road in the country. Locals love the tourist revenue, but regional law enforcement regularly cracks down on speeders, lane violators and anything else they feel like. In fact, if you hit the Dragon during one of their sweeps and happen to have out-of-state plates, plan on getting a ticket for something. The best time to drive Route 129 is mid-week, outside of peak season. Think Wednesdays in April or October, and you get the picture. Don’t forget to hit up some of the lesser known but equally spectacular roads in the area, like the Cherohala Skyway, and remember to drive or ride within your limits. People die on the Dragon nearly every year, so keep that in mind as run from apex to apex.
New Hope, PA to Stroudsburg, PA
If you like to drive roads that chase rivers, this is one of the best in the Northeast. Start in the Delaware River town of New Hope, then head north on Route 32 (aka River Road). Stay on 32 as it parallels the Delaware, winding past crumbling cliffs and farmland. Stay on River Road as it switches to Route 611 south of Riegelsville, then keep heading north into the old mill town of Easton, PA. If you’re ready for civilization, you can pick up Interstate 78 here or keep heading north as the road winds through Pennsylvania farm land. At Martins Creek, Route 611 splits away from the Delaware River and heads inland for a while before rejoining the river near Portland. Route 610 will eventually take you to Stroudsburg, PA, where you can pick up Interstate 80.
If you live in the West or the Midwest, don’t worry. I’m not forgetting about you, I’m just publishing the best roads in those segments of the country separately, so look for those articles next week.