Virginia is home to a lot of great things. Not only do we have some of the best wine in the world, some of the most incredible views on the east coast, a deep and rich history, phenomenal outdoor activities, dozens of state and national parks, and exceptional dining, but we also have some of the best motorcycle rides on the whole of the East Coast. Below you’ll find some of the top motorcycle rides in the state, and even the country! These range from being technically challenging rides to relaxing day trips, but in every instance you’ll experience some top-notch riding and extremely rewarding views of one of the most beautiful states in the nation. Keep reading to learn more!
Use these links to jump to a specific section:
- Skyline Drive
- Blue Ridge Parkway
- Virginia State Route 16 – The Back of the Dragon
- US Route 250
- Colonial Parkway
- George Washington Memorial Parkway
Total Drive Time: ~3 Hours
Skyline drive is known to be an absolute ‘must-ride’ road for motorcyclists across the world. This 135 mile winding roadway passes through the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers some of the most incredible views in the state. The route begins in the beautiful northern neck of the Shenandoah Valley in Front Royal and then meanders south to Waynesboro, where the road connects to the equally beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway. In the fall, Skyline Drive offers unparalleled views of the state. In addition to the heavy canopy surrounding the road changing into a sea of autumn hues, Skyline Drive offers 75 different overlook points allowing you to see the rolling hills that make up the Virginia Piedmont region. In addition to being an access point for some of the best camping in the state, Skyline Drive also leads to several notable natural attractions, including South River Falls in Stanardsville and Dark Hollow Falls in Luray.
Skyline Drive is unique among the best motorcycle roads in Virginia, as it is absolutely best experienced with brief stops, allowing you to both take in the stunning views and to focus on the road itself. The roadway is dotted with pullouts, making it easy to take a moment and enjoy the view. Otherwise, you may very quickly experience the hundred plus miles of this road, as the surface itself is in good quality, well kept, smooth, and offers a wide variety of curves, hills, and straightways that make the ride interesting. One key note is that Skyline Drive has a max speed limit of 35 miles per hour, which helps to extend the ride tie to roughly 3 hours or so from beginning to end. As such, to really enjoy everything Skyline Drive has to offer, it may be worthwhile to take advantage of the easy camping options dotting the route.
If you’re looking for a longer ride, then you’re in luck! Skyline Drive easily connects to the Blue Ridge Parkway, allowing you to really turn this into a full day trip!
Blue Ridge Parkway
Total Drive Time: ~12 hours
The Blue Ridge Parkway, also known as “America’s Favorite Drive” has consistently been ranked among riders as one of the most enjoyable
motorcycle roads in the nation. At 469 miles, the Blue Ridge Parkway stretches through Virginia’s country side all the way to the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. As it is such a long ride, there are multiple different starting points available to riders. If you are interested in starting at the beginning, ride north to Staunton, VA, but if you would like to start in the middle then you can go to Wytheville, VA on I-81, then head to Fancy Gap, VA off of I-77 and follow the Blue Ridge Parkway signs from there. If you choose to start from the south, you can begin your ride outside of the town of Cherokee, NC, or just hop right on the Blue Ridge Parkway from Asheville, NC.
Once you are on the Blue Ride Parkway, you’ll enjoy a moderately relaxed pace, allowing you to soak up some of the most spectacular scenery in the world as you pass through the Appalachian Mountains. Along the way, you’ll experience truly incredible panoramic views of the state. The road itself is well maintained and offers a variety of curves, tunnels, open stretches of road, narrow stretches of road hanging right off the mountains. The average speed of the drive is about 45 miles per hour, but similar to Skyline Drive, the Blue Ridge Parkway offers riders so much that you may want to consider breaking the sections up and spending some time at the variety of hiking trails, campsites, waterfalls, overlooks, and historic sites that you’ll encounter on the way. Some of the must-see stops include Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Peaks of Otter, and Mabry Mill, which is among one of the most photographed sections of the ride. You can even find comfortable lodging and delicious food at the Peaks of Otter Lodge.
Virginia State Route 16 – The Back of the Dragon
Total Drive Time: ~1 Hour
Known by many as a premier motorcycle road throughout North America, Virginia’s State Route 16, or the Back of the Dragon offers riders thirty two miles of smooth, well maintained, and fun road. The route itself features over 430 curves, and has been hailed as one of the most technical rides in the nation. The route itself winds through three different mountains as you travel from Marion, VA to Tazwell, VA. Throughout the ride you will typically experience very little traffic, which helps to manage the elevation changes, limited access, switchbacks, slaloms, hairpin turns, and more. As you ride, be sure to take in the unrivaled beauty of the area, as Route 16 offers some of the most spectacular views throughout the east coast.
For this route, you’ll want to start in Marion, VA. You’ll be taking Hwy 16 north for thirty two miles through the forest until you reach Tazewell, VA. In addition to gift shops, local dives, breweries, and country restaurants, you’ll also be within close proximity to two state parks — Hungry Mother State Park and Grayson Highlands State Park.
US Route 250
Total Drive Time: ~2.5 Hours
US Route 250 is a little bit over 100 miles of truly invigorating mountain roads. This rollercoaster of a ride is one of the most challenging on our list, and within the state. Beginning in Staunton, Virginia and ending in Elkins, West Virginia, this hilly road will truly get your heart pumping. Between the tight corners, the technical switchbacks, elevation changes on nearly every stretch of road, there are plenty of challenges to experience the whole way. The surface of the road, overall, is in pretty good shape but varies quite a bit over the ~100 miles that make it up. You will find some patches to be in excellent shape, with others that are patchy and uneven. As you ride Route 250, you will pass through the George Washington and Monongahela National Parks. Both of which are beautiful, and offer plenty of hiking, areas to picnic, camping, and one of a kind scenic views. As you continue, you’ll pass through Shenandoah Mountain, which offers stunning panoramic views of the valleys below.
Similar to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive, there are plenty of opportunities to stop along Route 250 to take a break and take in the views. Between the mountain descents and technical riding, it may be beneficial to take your time and enjoy the experience. As you exit the mountains, you’ll arrive in Monterey, VA, which is the intersection between US 250 and US 220, which is known as one of the most rider friendly towns in the area as a result of the hospitality from the local riding enthusiasts. Route 250 can be ridden pretty quickly in one day, but if you stop to admire the scenery or hit any of the sites or museums along the way this trip can easily turn into a full day.
Total Drive Time: ~1 Hour
The Colonial Parkway is a scenic 23-mile stretch of road that links Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown — known as Virginia’s HIstoric Triangle. In an effort to provide continuity to the visitor experience, this stretch of road is entirely devoid of any modern commercial development. This allows riders to obtain dramatic views of the James and York Rivers, as well as the tidal estuaries and passageways that run through the pine and hardwood forests in the area. If you’re the type of rider that is interested in combining history with natural beauty, then the Colonial Parkway may be the right road for you. This route, in addition to having plenty to look at on the way, also offers more than 6 different historic sites right off the road, as well as dozens of fine dining establishments along the way. For those who didn’t get enough thrills on the road, there’s even a neighboring theme park.
Riders will find that the Colonial Parkway makes for a great trip, regardless of the time of year. This brief stretch over road is well covered by the tree canopy throughout the hotter months. In the fall, the same tree canopy turns into a variety of autumn hues. When it’s cold, the 35-45 mph speed limit lets you get to where you need to be without freezing along the way. The road condition on the Colonial Parkway is typically in good condition, with patches of rough sections here and there.
George Washington Memorial Parkway
Total Drive Time: ~1 Hour
The George Washington Memorial Parkway, a 25-mile stretch of scenic road that acts as a gateway from Northern Virginia to the nation’s capital. This gorgeous route of road curves along side the Potomac Gorge and acts as a connection between the historic sites ranging from Great Falls, VA all the way up to George Washington’s Mount Vernon. This route, which is far from the most demanding on our list, offers riders scenic views of the Potomac River and lush woodland scenes, as well as a variety of locations to park and admire the landscape. The road is dotted with overlooks, picnic areas, and plenty of places to soak the view.
This relaxing ride also has more than just pretty views to offer. There are over 25 historic sites, including Mount Vernon, Roosevelt Island, Claude Moore Colonial Farm, Robert E. Lee Memorial, and a handful of wildlife preserves along the way. To truly experience both the beauty and the history offered on this ride, it’s recommended to set aside a day or so to really get to see all that the George Washington Memorial Parkway has to offer.
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