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Motorcycle Destination guide

North Carolina’s Top 5 Motorcycle Destinations (May 2024)

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tail of the dragon top 5 motorcycle destinations

Introduction: The Diverse Beauty of North Carolina

Embark on a Journey Through North Carolina’s Premier Motorcycle Destinations North Carolina is a treasure trove for motorcycle enthusiasts, offering a diverse array of landscapes and routes. From the winding roads of the Blue Ridge Parkway to the coastal stretches of the Outer Banks, these motorcycle destinations are a must for anyone seeking adventure on two wheels.

Top 5 Motorcycle Destinations in North Carolina

1. Blue Ridge Parkway: A Ride Through Appalachian Splendor

The Essence of the Parkway

A Biker’s Dream Route

  • Iconic Journey: The Blue Ridge Parkway, stretching over 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina, is often hailed as America’s favorite drive. For motorcycle enthusiasts, it’s a dream come true, offering a seamless ride with stunning views of the Appalachian Mountains.
  • Perfectly Curved Roads: Renowned for its sweeping curves and lack of stoplights, the parkway is a motorcycle-friendly route, allowing riders to enjoy a smooth, uninterrupted journey. The road meanders through lush landscapes, offering breathtaking vistas and a sense of serenity that is hard to find elsewhere.

Why It’s Special for Motorcyclists

Scenic Beauty and Riding Pleasure

  • Varied Landscapes: From the high elevations near Mount Mitchell to the rolling hills and pastoral landscapes of the Shenandoah Valley, the parkway provides an ever-changing backdrop that keeps the ride visually enchanting.
  • Rider-Centric Features: The parkway’s design with gentle grades and sweeping curves is ideal for motorcycles, making it a safe yet exhilarating experience. Overlooks and picnic spots are strategically placed to let riders stop and soak in the beauty.

Exploring Beyond the Road

A Rich Blend of Nature and Culture

  • Cultural Attractions: Along the route, riders can explore a variety of attractions, including the Folk Art Center in Asheville, showcasing Appalachian crafts and traditions.
  • Natural Wonders: The numerous trails leading off the parkway offer a chance to stretch your legs and explore natural wonders like Linville Falls, or take a scenic detour to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Accommodations and Amenities

Rest and Recharge in Comfort

  • Lodging: Along the parkway, there are numerous motorcycle-friendly accommodations, from cozy mountain cabins and campgrounds to comfortable inns and B&Bs, each offering a warm welcome to riders.
  • Dining: The parkway and its surrounding towns boast a variety of dining options, from casual roadside eateries offering classic American fare to fine dining restaurants with spectacular mountain views.

2. Cherohala Skyway: A High-Altitude Motorcycle Adventure

The Skyway’s High-Altitude Allure

Riding Amongst the Clouds

  • Elevated Experience: The Cherohala Skyway, stretching across 43 miles from North Carolina into Tennessee, offers motorcyclists a unique high-altitude ride. This skyway, often less crowded than other popular routes, takes you through the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests, ascending to over 5,000 feet in elevation.
  • Spectacular Views: The route provides panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains and forests, with numerous overlooks for riders to pause and appreciate the breathtaking scenery. The higher elevations offer cooler temperatures and a chance to ride above the clouds on certain days.

What Makes It Special for Motorcyclists

Challenging Twists and Serene Stretches

  • Dynamic Riding: The Cherohala Skyway is famed for its well-maintained roads, a mix of challenging twists and long, sweeping curves. It’s a ride that tests skill and offers immense satisfaction, making it a favorite among motorcycle enthusiasts.
  • Natural Beauty: The route is adorned with diverse flora and fauna, especially vivid during the fall foliage season. It’s a corridor through some of the most untouched natural environments in the region.

Beyond the Ride

Cultural and Natural Explorations

  • Local Attractions: Along the skyway, riders can explore quaint towns, local museums, and artisanal shops that provide a glimpse into the region’s rich cultural heritage.
  • Outdoor Activities: For those looking to explore off their bikes, the area offers hiking trails, waterfalls, and scenic spots like the Bald River Falls, perfect for a refreshing break amidst nature.

Accommodations and Amenities

Stays and Eats Along the Skyway

  • Motorcycle-Friendly Lodging: Along and near the Cherohala Skyway, riders can find a range of accommodations, including campgrounds, motels, and inns, many of which cater specifically to the needs of motorcyclists.
  • Dining Options: From home-style diners serving up local favorites to cafes offering fresh, artisanal foods, there are ample options for riders to refuel and relish the local cuisine.

3. Tail of the Dragon: The Ultimate Riding Challenge

The Legend of the Dragon

318 Curves in 11 Miles

  • Thrilling Adventure: The Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap is a legendary stretch of road, offering one of the most exhilarating motorcycle destinations in the country. With 318 curves packed into just 11 miles, this route promises a thrilling ride that’s become a rite of passage for serious bikers.
  • Rider’s Paradise: Known for its tight turns and minimal intersections, the Tail of the Dragon provides a pure riding experience, focusing solely on the skill and thrill of navigating its challenging curves.

Why It’s a Must-Ride for Motorcyclists

Skill, Thrill, and Exhilaration

  • Technical Riding: The road’s series of curves and bends offer a demanding but rewarding challenge, attracting motorcycle enthusiasts eager to test their cornering skills.
  • Iconic Status: The Tail of the Dragon isn’t just a road; it’s a legend in the motorcycle community, offering not just a ride but a story to tell.

The Dragon’s Surroundings

Exploring the Great Smoky Mountains

  • Scenic Beauty: While the road itself is the main attraction, the surrounding Great Smoky Mountains provide a stunning backdrop, with lush forests and mountain vistas.
  • Nearby Attractions: The area around the Tail of the Dragon offers various attractions, including the scenic Cherohala Skyway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, perfect for additional riding adventures.

Accommodations and Amenities

Stay and Dine on the Dragon’s Path

  • Biker-Friendly Stays: The area around the Tail of the Dragon has several accommodations that cater specifically to motorcyclists, ranging from basic campsites to comfortable lodges and cabins.
  • Dining Options: Local eateries and grills along the route offer hearty meals and a chance to meet fellow riders, sharing stories and experiences of conquering the Dragon.

4. Outer Banks Scenic Byway: Coastal Riding at Its Best

The Charm of the Outer Banks

A Journey Along the Shore

  • Unique Coastal Experience: The Outer Banks Scenic Byway offers a distinctly different experience from the mountainous rides in North Carolina. Spanning over 170 miles, this route traverses a narrow strip of barrier islands, providing stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Pamlico Sound.
  • Relaxed Riding: The byway is perfect for motorcyclists looking for a more leisurely ride. The road is flanked by water on both sides, offering long, straight stretches that allow riders to enjoy the coastal breeze and the rhythm of the waves.

What Makes It Special for Motorcyclists

Natural Beauty and Historical Sites

  • Scenic Diversity: The route showcases the diverse ecology of the Outer Banks, from sandy beaches and dunes to marshes and maritime forests.
  • Rich History: Along the way, riders can explore historic lighthouses, such as the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, and visit sites like the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills.

Exploring Beyond the Byway

Local Culture and Recreational Activities

  • Charming Towns: The Outer Banks are dotted with quaint towns and villages, each offering a slice of coastal life and history. Places like Ocracoke Island and Manteo provide opportunities to explore local culture and heritage.
  • Water Sports: For those interested in activities off their bikes, the region is renowned for fishing, kayaking, and windsurfing.

Accommodations and Amenities

Relax in Coastal Comfort

  • Beachside Lodging: The Outer Banks offer a variety of accommodations, from beachfront hotels and inns to cozy bed and breakfasts, where riders can relax to the sound of the ocean.
  • Seafood and More: Dining in the Outer Banks is a delight, especially for seafood lovers. Local restaurants serve up fresh catches of the day alongside a range of other culinary options.

5. The Diamondback – NC 226A: A Hidden Gem in the Mountains

The Thrill of the Diamondback

A Serpentine Mountain Challenge

  • Exhilarating Route: The Diamondback, located near Little Switzerland, is a less-traveled but highly thrilling route for motorcyclists. NC 226A offers a series of sharp curves and steep inclines, making it a magnet for riders seeking an adrenaline rush.
  • Mountain Majesty: This route winds through the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains, providing riders with a challenging yet scenic mountain experience. The road’s design, with its tight turns and elevation changes, demands skill and attention, making it a rewarding ride for those who take it on.

Why It’s a Must for Motorcycle Enthusiasts

Skillful Riding and Stunning Views

  • Rider’s Delight: The Diamondback is known for its technical demands, offering a series of switchbacks and hairpin turns that are both challenging and exhilarating.
  • Scenic Overlooks: Along the route, riders are treated to spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, offering perfect spots for a break and a photo opportunity.

Exploring the Area

Cultural and Natural Attractions

  • Local Attractions: The area around The Diamondback is rich in attractions, including the Blue Ridge Parkway and the quaint town of Little Switzerland, known for its Swiss-like charm and hospitality.
  • Nature’s Bounty: For those looking to explore off the bike, nearby hiking trails and natural wonders like the Linville Caverns and Linville Falls offer a chance to experience the beauty of the North Carolina mountains.

Accommodations and Dining

Rest and Refuel in Mountain Style

  • Mountain Stays: The area offers a range of accommodations, from rustic lodges and cozy inns to charming bed and breakfasts, each providing a warm welcome to riders.
  • Local Cuisine: Dining options include everything from casual cafes serving up hearty mountain fare to fine dining establishments offering gourmet dishes with local ingredients.

Dining and Accommodations

Enjoy the Flavors and Comforts Along the Way

  • Eateries and Stays: Sample Southern cuisine and relax in cozy accommodations that enhance the motorcycle destinations experience.

Conclusion: The Allure of North Carolina’s Roads

Discover the Best Motorcycle Destinations in the Tar Heel State These top motorcycle destinations in North Carolina offer an unmatched mix of adrenaline, beauty, and cultural richness. They stand as a testament to the state’s appeal to motorcyclists from around the world.

As the CEO of The Hard Tail, Jacob Stoner leverages years of immersion in the world of motorcycling. He not only embodies the spirit of the open road as a devoted rider, but also has experience in custom motorcycle design. Though he has dipped his toes into the realm of customization, his main focus remains on riding and the motorcycle community at large. The Hard Tail, for him, is more than just a professional endeavor – it's a reflection of his enduring passion for motorcycling.

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