Berkeley, California (EastBayDaily) — People ride motorcycles because of the dream—the dream of escaping routine and embarking on an epic journey across the country. Since 2000, Gary McKechnie has helped more than 100,000 readers and riders live this dream and experience the freedom of the open road with his book, Great American Motorcycle Tours. This summer, he offers eight great motorcycle rides for anyone planning to tour the country on two wheels:
1) Berkshires – Central Vermont The ride from Lenox, MA, to Stowe, VT, compresses a nation’s worth of ideal motorcycling roads into a relatively small area and meets the benchmarks for a perfect run: culture, history, and scenery. Best of all, this short but sensational tour whips you through the Green Mountains on stunning Highway 100.
2) Lake Michigan Shore Follow a waterfront route along magnificent Lake Michigan from Ludington to Mackinaw City on a portion of the historic West Michigan Pike. What worked for travelers in 1913 still works in 2013 as the blacktop snakes through some of America’s most pristine scenery, found in waterfront villages, lakeside log cabins, wispy sand dunes, fruitful orchards, and omnipresent Lake Michigan.
3) Northwest Arkansas The mineral baths and historic spas of Hot Springs now comprise an unusual downtown national park. From here, take Scenic 7 north through the 1.8 million-acre Ouachita National Forest for S-curves and incredible views. The end point? The thriving town of Eureka Springs (pop. 2,073), which offers more than 50 B&Bs, three historic hotels, a steam railroad, a Native American site, nearly 100 spas/massage studios, a preserve for orphaned tigers and bears, and the famous Thornecrown Chapel.
4) Kansas and Nebraska There are no switchbacks, rivers, or seas on a round-trip ride from Omaha—across northern Kansas and back across Nebraska’s Sand Hills—but this epic trek goes through some of the loneliest land in the Midwest. Riding between small northern Kansas towns and across the Nebraska prairie, the tour reflects the mindset of a solo rider with a landscape as remote and independent as any you can imagine.
5) Montana – Wyoming Ride through the Great Plains from Livingston, MT, to Jackson Hole, WY, via Yellowstone National Park. On the way, encounter characters from Western novels, fantastic views of mountain ranges and glacier lakes, the bracing feel of cool winds, and enough photo ops to make a full-length film. Pure, undiluted freedom.
6) Northern Arizona – Southern Utah Gliding past Sedona’s red rocks is like riding on Mars. Heading north, thread the needle through Oak Creek Canyon before drifting into a super-sized forest on Highway 180 (north of Flagstaff). Many empty miles ahead, iconic Grand Canyon National Park precedes Highway 89, which unveils a larger-than-life landscape. North in Page, AZ, explore the sinuous beauty of Lake Powell, then ride through the Vermilion Cliffs to Utah’s Zion National Park.
7) Oregon Coast A 150-mile stretch of US 101 links Cannon Beach with Florence, starting near dramatic Haystack Rock, a towering 235-foot coastal monolith. Heading south, the unbelievable two-lane hugs the coastal road while endless waves fly past rocks and onto the curving beach. When the road swings swiftly and quietly inland, riders pass marshes, estuaries, farms, valleys, and hills, with lighthouses lining up along the coastline near beaches and bays. Wrap up the ride with a hair-raising dune buggy adventure on the towering sand dunes of Florence.
8) California’s Pacific Coast In Napa Valley, the roads around Calistoga lead motorcyclists to believe they’re riding through the Greek Peloponnese, Swiss Alps, and Italian Dolomites on one fantastic run. Head west to reach one of America’s greatest roads, the Pacific Coast Highway, then south to Mediterranean-style Sausalito and its drop-dead gorgeous view of neighboring San Francisco. The PCH continues past farmland and shorelines to the fantasy village of Carmel, followed by dramatic views and cool stops from Big Sur all the way to San Simeon.
For more information or advice on motorcycle travel, visit motorcycleamerica.com.
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About Avalon Travel Avalon Travel is the largest independent travel publisher based in the United States. Major series include Rick Steves, the top-selling European guidebook series in the U.S.; and Moon, with guides to more than 200 destinations around the world; and Road Trip USA. Based in Berkeley, Calif., Avalon is a member of the Perseus Books Group. For more information, visit avalontravelbooks.com, ricksteves.com, moon.com, and roadtripusa.com.