(And why you should—Part 2)
Continuing with our 10 epic unknown rides series, Thunder Press completes the list with our last five favorite adventures. Hope you enjoy then as much as we enjoyed riding and reporting on them.
How did an interstate make our list when normally we avoid them at all costs? Well the section of I-70 in western Colorado ranks as one of the finest we’ve ever ridden. Start in Fruita and the Colorado National Monument with its sheer cliffs and deep gorges. Then head east for a spectacular 125-mile ride especially just past Glenwood Springs where you will experience Glenwood Canyon that contains No Name Tunnel, Hanging Lake Tunnel, Reverse Curve Tunnel and 40 bridges and viaducts.
Adjacent to the renown Cherohala Skyway and the Tail of the Dragon at Deal’s Gap is a stunning loop based smack dab in the middle of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Starting in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, take Highway 441 southeast before getting on Highway 19 into Maggie Valley. Stay on 19 before heading north on 209. Highway 209 is the section referred to as The Rattler and, as its name implies, with 234 attention-demanding corners it’s as twisty and curvy as a snake. In Hot Springs pick up 25 West to Newport and then south on Highways 32 and 321 back into Gatlinburg. Total distance is 150 miles.
Wolf Creek Pass
Located less than an hour from downtown Salt Lake City, UT-35 (Wolf Creek Pass) begins in Francis and ends in Duchesne, Utah, with the western half being the greater fun part to ride. Quick 270-degree sweepers combine with finely-engineered and predictable corners while dipping changes in elevation just add to the fun factor on this 70-mile ride. Although this road is rated very high by most travel sites, since it was only recently paved it often does not show up on maps and remains virtually unknown, usually having very little traffic.
Now this “little” trip will require two special items—extra time and a passport since it is in Alberta, Canada. And while this 231-mile jaunt is well-known by our northern friends, not many Yanks are in the loop. It begins at the most photographed lake in Canada, Lake Louise, and the stunning next-door resort, the Fairmont Chateau. From there it is a 231-mile trip to Jasper. Along the way you will encounter the Big Hill and the Big Bend with spectacular photo opportunities at the vista. That follows with the fantastic Columbia Icefield where you can take a massive military-styled transport out to the glacier and drink water melting from a thousand-year-old ice pack. Your adventure ends in the very biker-friendly town of Jasper. Watch for bears and moose along the roadside.
Great River Road
Back in America, our final road trip is along the Mississippi River. Kicking off in St. Louis, Missouri, on Highway 55 South that blends into Highway 61, this course follows the river banks with many opportunities to jump over to the eastern shoreline on various roads that take you from Missouri to Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi, eventually dropping you into the heart of New Orleans. As the regions change along the way to the Gulf waters so does the chance to sample a variety of different eateries and a diverse dichotomy of cultures.
We at Thunder Press hope you enjoyed this digital ride of our 10 favorite unknown roads. But this collection is in constant flux. So send your thoughts to us at firstname.lastname@example.org concerning any we may be unaware of. Until then, ride safe, ride long—the road is calling.