Visit the Great Smoky Mountains by Motorcycle

Jul 11, 2024

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Smoky mountain sunset Best Motorcycle Rides in the Great Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains is a rider’s paradise, offering scenic routes, challenging curves, and breathtaking vistas. Whether you're a seasoned rider or a newcomer, exploring the Smokies on two wheels is an unforgettable experience. This guide will cover the best motorcycle rides in the park, tips for a safe journey, and essential travel information to ensure you have a smooth and enjoyable trip.

The Best Motorcycle Rides in the Smoky Mountains

1. The Tail of the Dragon

tail of the dragon scenic road in great smoky mountains Best Motorcycle Rides in the Great Smoky Mountains

Arguably the most famous motorcycle route in the area, the Tail of the Dragon (US 129) boasts 318 curves in just 11 miles. This challenging ride offers thrilling twists and turns, making it a must-ride for any motorcyclist visiting the Smokies.

View the Route Map Here

2. Foothills Parkway

Driving The Foothills Parkway Best Motorcycle Rides in the Great Smoky Mountains

The Foothills Parkway offers stunning panoramic views of the Smoky Mountains and is a more relaxed ride compared to the Tail of the Dragon. This route is perfect for those who want to enjoy the scenery at a leisurely pace. The Tail of the Dragon also connects to Foothills Parkway, if you’re interested in a longer ride! 

View the Route Map Here

3. Gatlinburg Bypass to Townsend

Sunrise Over Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Misty morning sunrise over the mountain resort town of Gatlinburg Tennessee Best Motorcycle Rides in the Great Smoky Mountains

This route provides a beautiful ride from the bustling town of Gatlinburg to the quieter Townsend. The journey takes you through lush forests and past scenic overlooks, offering plenty of opportunities for photo stops.

View the Route Map Here

4. Cades Cove Loop

On the way to Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains Best Motorcycle Rides in the Great Smoky Mountains

Cades Cove Loop is an 11-mile one-way loop road that offers picturesque views of the valley and historic buildings. It's a great ride for those interested in the park's history and natural beauty.

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5. Gatlinburg to Cherokee

Tennessee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Newfound Gap Best Motorcycle Rides in the Great Smoky Mountains

Riding from Gatlinburg, TN, to Cherokee, NC, via Newfound Gap Road (US 441) provides breathtaking views of the mountains. This 35 mile route is particularly stunning during the fall when the foliage is in full color.

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6. Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway, Famous Road linking Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park Best Motorcycle Rides in the Great Smoky Mountains

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a legendary route that stretches for 469 miles, with a significant portion running through the Smoky Mountains. Starting at Rockfish Gap, Virginia, and carrying on South all the way to Oconaluftee, North Carolina, this is an unforgettable route. Known for its stunning vistas and smooth roads, it's a perfect ride for motorcyclists who enjoy long, scenic journeys.

7. The Smoky Mountain Loop

Fontana Dam North Carolina Best Motorcycle Rides in the Great Smoky Mountains

This 140-mile loop takes riders through some of the most scenic parts of the Smokies, including the Tail of the Dragon and the Foothills Parkway. It's a comprehensive route that offers a little bit of everything the park has to offer.

View the Route Map Here

8. Cherohala Skyway Loop

The fall colors on the Cherohala Skyway as the road curves Best Motorcycle Rides in the Great Smoky Mountains

The Cherohala Skyway is known for its sweeping curves and stunning mountain views. The loop is about 50 miles long and climbs to elevations over 5,000 feet, providing a unique riding experience.

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9. Bobarosa Saloon Run

Bobarosa saloon 2 Best Motorcycle Rides in the Great Smoky Mountains

This ride combines great scenery with a stop at the Bobarosa Saloon, a popular biker hangout. It's a fun route that mixes riding with socializing.

View the Route Map Here

10. The Rattler Loop (US 209)

Late Autumn Sunset overlook at Waterrock Knob Best Motorcycle Rides in the Great Smoky Mountains

The Rattler offers 290 curves in 24 miles, making it a thrilling ride for those who enjoy twisty roads. The 145 mile route also provides beautiful views of the countryside and mountains. Hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway to loop back around to make your way back to Hot Springs, NC. 

View the Route Map Here

Rent a Motorcycle in the Smoky Mountains

Riders Share provides the perfect solution for those looking to experience the scenic routes and curves of the Smokies. Whether you're planning a weekend getaway or a day trip, renting a motorcycle through Riders Share allows you to enjoy the freedom and adventure of riding through one of the most picturesque areas in the country. View available rentals closest to you now. 

Motorcycle Safety Tips in the Great Smoky Mountains

Riding in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park requires extra caution due to the winding roads and unpredictable weather. Here are some tips to ensure a safe trip:

  1. Watch for vehicles straying over the center line: Stay alert, especially around curves and scenic pullouts.
  2. Wear brightly colored clothing: Increase your visibility to other motorists.
  3. Carry raingear: Weather in the mountains can change rapidly.
  4. Be aware of road surfaces: Look out for oil spots, loose rocks, and gravel.
  5. Watch for wildlife: Animals can appear suddenly on the road.
  6. Adhere to state laws: Wear an approved motorcycle safety helmet and obey traffic regulations.

For more detailed safety tips, you can visit the Great Smoky Mountains Motorcycle Safety page on the NPS website.

Travel Tips for the Great Smoky Mountains

To make the most of your trip, consider these travel tips:

  • Arrive early or late: Most visitors arrive between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Arriving earlier or later can help you avoid the crowds.
  • Have a backup plan: Popular spots can get crowded. Have alternative destinations in mind.
  • No gas stations in the park: Fill up your tank before entering. Services are available in nearby towns like Gatlinburg, TN, and Cherokee, NC.
  • Watch for wildlife: Follow posted speed limits to reduce the risk of accidents.

Conclusion

Exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park by motorcycle is a thrilling and rewarding experience. With its diverse routes, breathtaking scenery, and rich history, the park offers something for every rider. By following safety tips and planning your trip carefully, you can ensure a memorable and enjoyable adventure on two wheels. So gear up, hit the road, and discover the best motorcycle rides the Smoky Mountains have to offer.