The best motorcycle rides in North Carolina cover a lot of scenic destinations ready to be explored. From Outer Banks motorcycle trips to the central region and on into the mountains. For a memorable and outstanding day trip, weekend excursion, or a long-term road trip, get your planner out and start making up a travel itinerary using some of the recommended destinations described below.

1. The Outer Banks National Scenic Byway

Distance: 138 miles
Time to Ride: Half day

Considered one of the best motorcycle rides in the Outer Banks and one of the most beautiful stretches of roadway in North Carolina, the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway can’t be ignored when planning a road trip. A ride along the coastal highway offers panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean plus plenty of fresh air and sunshine as you travel the expanse of the Outer Bank’s barrier islands along Highway 12. Throughout the ride, you’ll have access to attractions, such as the Wright Brothers National Memorial, Currituck Beach Lighthouse, the North Carolina Aquarium, Jockey’s Ridge State Park, and more. 

2. Rocky Mount, North Carolina to the Outer Banks

Distance: 184 miles
Time to Ride: Full day

Enjoy a ride through North Carolina scenery via US-64 E from Rocky Mount to the Outer Banks. Keep in mind, that you will be taking a ferry ride to the islands, which offer various schedules. An added bonus to the trip is planning your ferry time around sunrise or sunset for an exceptionally beautiful crossing. 

3. Blue Ridge Parkway

Distance: 469 miles
Time to Ride: 1-2 days

For extended North Carolina motorcycle trips, it doesn’t get any better than a ride along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The start of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville will take you on a scenic ride past scenic mountain ranges along a twisting and curving highway. Along the way, there are plenty of places to stop for photo opportunities, which is especially lovely during the fall when the leaves change. Along the route, bikers have access to over a dozen picnic areas and more than 300 miles of hiking trails.

4. Cherohala Skyway

Distance: 45 miles
Time to Ride: 1-2 hours

From the small community of Robbinsville, North Carolina, the Cherohala Skyway is a scenic connector route to Tellico Plains, Tennessee. The road is well maintained, so, when needed, riders can use their technical skills to navigate the route’s many tight curves and twists. The Cherohala Skyway takes drivers to elevations of more than 5,400 feet. Because of this, the skyway has been referred to as “a drive among the clouds.”

5. The Hellbender 28

Distance: 22 miles
Time to Ride: 1 hour

Expect an interesting ride when traveling the Hellbender 28, which promises a beautiful ride from start to finish. Along the way, your traveling companions include lush forest landscape, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Fontana Village at Fontana Dam. For a cool weekend getaway, plan to stay at one of the cabins or the lodge in the village. An added bonus to this ride is the route provides access to the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap. 

6. Devil’s Whip

Distance: 26 miles
Time to Ride: 1 hour

Route 80, also known as the Devil’s Whip, offers plenty of scenery and interesting ride time. The ride takes you across the Blue Ridge Parkway where you’ll ride with clear views of Mt. Mitchell. This is a challenging route even for experienced bikers. The asphalt road features unfriendly switchbacks, extreme right turns, and steep inclines. Plus, you’ll be dealing with elevation changes along the way. At Mt. Mitchell, you can access the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

7. Great Smoky US 441

Distance: 42 miles
Time to Ride: 1-2 hours

When riding in North Carolina, a ride through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the standard for North Carolina motorcycle trips. The ride is smooth on a well-maintained roadway, but riders can expect elevation changes and switchbacks when driving through Newfound Gap. There are scenic pullovers that help keep traffic moving, especially during the peak tourist season. The views of the Blue Ridge Mountains are stunning, and if you want to see multiple mountain ranges, take a side trip to Clingman’s Dome in Tennessee. Take care of fuel and food at either Cherokee, NC or Gatlinburg, TN before accessing the route. 

8. Diamond Back Loop

Distance: 16 miles
Time to Ride: 1 hour

For bikers riding the Blue Ridge Parkway, add a little extra drive time with a ride on the Diamond Back Loop. The 16-mile loop is near the community of Little Switzerland. The short loop is fun with plenty of twists and turns. 

9. The Copperhead Loop

Distance: 77 miles
Time to Ride: 2-3 hours

Located in the western region of the state, motorcycle enthusiasts can expect a challenging and thrilling ride. The route is not as technically challenging as the Dragon or as Twisted as the Sisters, but there are plenty of curves and tight twists, sweeping curves to just lean into and enjoy, and rapid elevation changes to test your motorcycling skills and abilities.  There are speed limits posted along the route that support safety, but also allow excellent driving time without getting a ticket, so you can enjoy the ride.

10. The Rattler

Distance: 25 miles
Time to Ride: 1 hour

Prepare for mountain driving when accessing The Rattler. Like its name, the route coils like its namesake, creating 290 turns for you to maneuver. The ride accesses two mountains, both offering pull-off areas to take in the views. If traveling in the early morning, the mountains may be shrouded in delicate layers of misty fog. Expect sharp turns, farm trucks along the route, and assorted wildlife that may be crossing the highway. The speed limit is 55-mph but use caution when taking the turns during or after rain. 

11. Grandfather Mountain Ride

Distance: 22 miles
Time to Ride: 1 hour

A ride along US 221 takes you along a tree-lined and twisty roadway that offers a challenge to new riders. Do not expect a flat open highway. This route requires skill, especially when navigating the route’s blind right turns. There is also a significant drop-off and distracting rock outcroppings, so staying focused is important. When you reach Grandfather Mountain at the route’s southern end, stop to take pictures of the swinging suspension bridge. If you plan to continue driving to reach the viewing area further up, be aware of dangerous switchbacks. Keep it slow and easy and be on the lookout for wildlife also accessing the highway. 

When the best motorcycle rides are being planned for exciting trips across America, there are numerous choices that bring travel time to a high level of enjoyment and satisfaction. Each state has its own vibe and natural attractions. North Carolina is no exception. From mountain tops to seaside islands, pick your pleasure.