(And why you should—Part 1)
Most riders have a “must-ride” bucket list of notable routes they hope to accomplish in their lifetime. But there are those magnificent sections of tarmac that remain mostly unknown. These are some of our favorites.
An hour north of Atlanta, Georgia, is a 133-mile loop aptly named The Gauntlet. Challenging the nearby Tail of the Dragon, this demanding road runs through the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains with tight turns and severe elevation changes. Numerous scenic overlooks along the way provide grand views of several states and since it is less crowded than the Dragon, the Gauntlet is a much safer ride.
Rio Grande River Road
Just west of Big Bend National Park are Study (Stoody) Butte and Terlingua, Texas (the famous ghost and home of the World Championship Chili Cook-Off). Farm to Market Road 170 begins here and follows the Rio Grande River all the way to Presidio, a 67-mile stretch. Considered one of the last true frontiers in the lower 48, the area is remote as it is stunning with Old Mexico just a stone’s throw to the south. Recommended stops include Contrabando, Texas (a permanent roadside movie set and great photo op), and Big Hill that overlooks Santana Basin.
While only 30 miles in length, Route 47 between the tiny town of Big Indian and Grahamsville, New York, offers some of the most bucolic riding in this section of the northeast. Just a few hours northwest of New York City, the east branch of the Neversink River parallels the road for a piece while the trailhead for the highest mountain in the Catskills (Slide Mountain) is also located along this route. Included are lots of twisties, delightful elevation variations and stunning scenery. Watch for bears crossing the highway.
While the roads surrounding the Taos Ski Valley (including the Enchanted Circle) in the northern mountains of New Mexico provide a supreme experience, the connecting links between Cloudcroft and Ruidoso, New Mexico, in the south of the state offer their own particular level of riding pleasure. The recommended route is going from south to north taking Route 244 out of Cloudcroft and riding some nice sweepers through the Mescalero Indian Reservation before picking up Route 48 into Ruidoso.
The Pig Trail
Located in the heart of the Ozarks, Highway 23 originates just south of Fort Smith, Arkansas but gets real interesting when it gets near the town of Huntsville in the state’s northwest corner and then continues into Eureka Springs. From there, complete the circle by taking Highways 62, 103, 43, 208, 7, 16 and Highway 21 into Clarksville. Ranked consistently in the Top 10 motorcycle rides in the U.S., this is certainly Arkansas’ finest two-wheel escape.
Tune in next month for our second installment that completes the Thunder Press 10 Epic Roads series. And please, always ride safe. We like our readers and want you to be around a long time.