Easy Riding: The Ultimate Motorcycle Tours

North Carolina: The Blue Ridge Parkway
  |  Gorp.com

North Carolina's Blue Ridge Parkway, running 470 miles from the Virginia border to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is the longest designated scenic highway in North America. Shielded from all commercial development, the Parkway is like a wilderness trail for motorized travelers. Snaking along mountain ridges, at an average altitude of 3,000 feet, the Parkway offers nearly continuous views of forested hills and open meadows. At the 350-mile mark, the road climbs into the Black Mountains, passing through Mt. Mitchell State Park. (Mt. Mitchell, at 6,684 feet, is the highest summit east of the Rockies.) Just a bit farther south, the Parkway winds through Craggy Gardens Recreation Area, where wild flowers bloom by the thousands on rugged hillsides.

The smoothness of the tarmac and the rhythm of the curves make the drive dream-like. It is not a route to speed through, rather one to savor. Many who have ridden throughout North America say that no other route, even the famed Pacific Coast Highway, is more ideally suited to two-wheeled exploration.

For those anxious for a guide tour through the Parkway, North Carolina's Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Vacations (200 Upper Heron Cove Rd., Weaverville, NC 28787, 704.658.0239) is probably the best choice. Smoky Mountain's director, Gary Dagiel, knows the Parkway intimately and is an authority on dozens of other great regional backroads. From June through September, his company runs weeklong guided tours through the region, departing from Asheville, North Carolina. Riders bring their own bikes, and itineraries are tailored to the participants' riding styles and interests. Groups are limited to a maximum of 12. Visit small farms and stay in quiet but elegant hotels and country inns. Cost is about $575, including accommodations, breakfast, and dinners.


Paul McMenamin is the author, editor, and photo director of the original Ultimate Adventure Sourcebook.

Published: 21 Aug 2001 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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