Want to plan the ultimate motorcycle trip featuring breathtaking scenic views, challenging rides with tons of curves, and smooth, laid-back rides? North Carolina offers some of the best motorcycle roads in the country! You’ll find North Carolina motorcycle rides through the Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Mountains, past hundreds of waterfalls and lakes, and through national forests.
Here are the best motorcycle rides in NC you absolutely want to add to your bucket list.
Tail of the Dragon NC Ride (11 miles) – One of the Most Iconic North Carolina Motorcycle Rides
The Tail of the Dragon motorcycle ride is often ranked as the #1 motorcycle ride in NC. It’s also one of the most challenging and not for inexperienced riders. The exhilarating Tail of the Dragon US 129 ride features 318 curves in just 11 miles with the Cherokee National Forest on one side and the Great Smoky Mountains on the other side.
View this post on Instagram
The primary riding season is April through October with weather that gets iffy in March and November. The best time to try the Ride the Dragon motorcycle ride is in the fall to see the magnificent autumn foliage in the mountains.
The Tail of the Dragon road is challenging given the hundreds of curves you’ll navigate, and made even more difficult when trucks are on the road. While trucks longer than 30 feet are banned from using US 129, it’s not uncommon to encounter them anyway. Make sure you stay in your lane and be prepared to hug the white line. Don’t try to cut corners and curves too tight and ride at your level of skill. There are deaths every year on the Dragon, most of them motorcyclists and often sportbike riders. 2021 was one of the deadliest years ever with eight fatalities.
View this post on Instagram
The Dragon’s Tail ride begins at Deals Gap right on the North Carolina/Tennessee border. If you start at Fugitive Bridge in North Carolina, you’ll get a view of the Cheoah Dam from the scene in The Fugitive before climbing through The Slide before the road straightens and approaches the Moonshiner28 road. You’ll spot the Big Metal Dragon at the intersection of NC 28 and US 129 where you can stop to visit the Tail of the Dragon store before approaching Deals Gap. The Dragon’s Tail NC ride is just 11 miles and ends at Tabcat Creek Bridge in the Tennessee mountains.
You’ll see why locals call it “that damn road to Tennessee” after surviving curve after curve!
Check out the Tail of the Dragon events to plan your trip! The biggest event is Thunder in the Smokies with three motorcycle rallies in NC every year, minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Want to experience the Body of the Dragon riding series across four states? Here are the other rides you’ll want to try firsthand:
- Head of the Dragon ride in West Virginia
- Claw of the Dragon ride in Virginia
- Back of the Dragon ride in Virginia
Devil’s Whip NC Ride (26 miles) – Challenging Motorcycle Ride in NC with Switchbacks, Curves, and Steep Climb
The Devil’s Whip in North Carolina is one of the most fun switchbacks and not far from Asheville in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The NC 80 Devil’s Whip ride starts in Pleasant Gardens off US 70 and follows NC 80 as it crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway to US 19 in Micaville, NC. You’ll climb 2,500 in elevation over 26 miles with uninterrupted views of Mt. Mitchell.
If you loved riding the Dragon’s Tail, you’ll definitely love the Devil’s Whip which has more curves and elevation changes but with less traffic. With a steep incline and several switchbacks, this ride is only for experienced riders.
Land of the Waterfalls Loop Ride (186 miles) – One of the Top Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina with Hundreds of Waterfalls
The Land of the Waterfalls area of Brevard in Transylvania County, NC is at the entrance of the Pisgah National Forest. The area is famous with more than 250 waterfalls seen in movies like The Last of the Mohicans and The Hunger Games. The Land of the Waterfalls loop ride starts at the southern portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway and takes you along some of the best attractions.
Start at Maggie Valley, the headquarters of the Thunder in the Rockies rally, then take the Blue Ridge Parkway to US 19 to Cherokee. You’ll continue to Bryson City and catch the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway (US 19/74) and head into the Nantahala River Gorge. Near the end, take the turn onto Wayah Road to wind along the river and cross the mountaintop before heading down a long road through the forest. You can head through the town of Franklin and follow US 64/NC 28 into the beautiful Cullasaja River Gorge and see four waterfalls along the road into Highlands.
From Highlands, you’ll pass through the Sapphire Valley on 64 E into Cashiers then over Toxaway Falls. After a twisty section of 64 E, you’ll take NC 215 with a challenging climb to the highest portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway. From there, you’ll head back down toward Cherokee.
While you’re in Cherokee, don’t miss a stop at the most famous waterfall in Cherokee NC: Mingo Falls. It’s one of the tallest waterfalls of the southern Appalachians!
View this post on Instagram
Blue Ridge Parkway Motorcycle Ride (469 miles) – Smooth, Scenic Drive Along Blue Ridge Waterfalls, Forests & Mountains
Part of the National Park Service, the Blue Ridge Parkway is called America’s Favorite Scenic Drive and stretches a total of 469 miles connecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with the Shenandoah National Park.
Whether you make the entire 469-mile ride or enjoy one of the shorter Blue Ridge Parkway motorcycle rides along a scenic stretch, this is one NC motorcycle ride you don’t want to miss. The southernmost end of the Blue Ridge Parkway starts in Cherokee, NC, part of the Cherokee Indian Reservation. The two-lane road is smooth and easy riding all the way from its start in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park through Pisgah National Forest and into Rockfish Gap, VA.
Explore the best Blue Ridge Mountain motorcycle rides with maps, top sights, and events from the Blue Ridge Parkway Association.
Cherohala Skyway Motorcycle Ride (52 miles) – One of the Top Scenic Blue Ridge Mountain Motorcycle Rides
The Cherohala Skyway took 34 years to build and connects Robbinsville, NC with Tellico Plains, TN. It’s one of the best motorcycle roads in North Carolina with unbeatable views as you ride past the Cherokee National Forest and the Nantahala National Forest.
There are more than one dozen scenic overlooks to stop along the way. At the very least, make sure you stop at the Santeetlah Overlook 7 miles away from the Tennessee state line in North Carolina for the magnificent view from the highest point along the Cherohala Skyway.
View this post on Instagram
Copperhead Loop (109 miles) – One of the Top Scenic NC Motorcycle Rides
The Copperhead Loop NC ride is one of the best motorcycle rides in North Carolina if you’re looking for a good mix of challenging riding and amazing scenery. The picturesque Copperhead road motorcycle ride takes you along US 276, NC 215, and US 64 in the Land of the Waterfalls area near Brevard, NC. You’ll want to plan for about 4 hours of riding to see some of the area’s best sights:
- Sliding Rock
- Looking Glass Falls
- Sunburst Falls
- Lake Logan
The 77-mile Copperhead Loop gives you plenty of options to customize your ride with easy access points and fun twists. The ride starts on I-26 off exit 40 by the Asheville Regional Airport and takes you toward Brevard. You’ll reach the start of Copperhead Loop at the intersection of US 276, NC 280, and US 64 in Pisgah Forest. The route follows US 276 N to NC 215 S and US 64 E before returning to the start of the loop.
As one of the best North Carolina rides, you won’t want to miss the gorgeous sights. It’s best to take the loop from Pisgah Forest north so you’ll face Sliding Rock and Looking Glass Falls when you reach them on US 276 and the waterfalls once you’re on NC 215 climbing toward Blue Ridge Parkway.
Ready to hit the road and experience these amazing North Carolina motorcycle rides yourself? With dependable motorcycle shipping services from Federal Motorcycle Transport, you can enjoy the ultimate motorcycle trip without worrying about a long ride in from out of the area or putting extra miles on your bike.
With our North Carolina motorcycle transport solutions, your bike can be shipped directly to one of our convenient warehouses in Knightsdale, NC near Raleigh or Atlanta, GA (or closer to your destination in NC). Pick up your motorcycle at your convenience and be ready to hit the open road.
Get started with your free motorcycle transport quote or give us a call today.