Scenic Motorcycle Drives to Try Out

by Stefanie Hatcher | Posted: Jul 17, 2014 | Updated: Apr 10, 2017

Comments: 21 Comments

Updated April 10, 2017.

There are more than 2,500 miles designated as scenic byways in Virginia. The regions highlighted here offer a very small sample of the wonderful variety you’ll find on these scenic and historic roads across the Commonwealth.

So where is your favorite place to ride?

Skyline Drive is a National Scenic Byway that runs 105 miles along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, starting in the northern neck of the Shenandoah Valley at Front Royal to Waynesboro, where it meets the Blue Ridge Parkway. Fall is the most popular time to travel along Skyline Drive, with its colorful foliage from late September to mid-November. But spring offers the most colorful wildflowers along the drive, as well as blooming azaleas and Mt. Laurel. The drive time is approximately three hours.

The 23-mile Colonial Parkway connects important historical sites within Virginia’s Historic Triangle. Free of commercial development, the Parkway is designed to provide an experience – that of motoring through more than 400 years of American colonial history. There is more than six historic sites and attractions to visit along the way.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway

Known as “America’s Favorite Drive,” the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway meanders from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. The parkway follows the Appalachian Mountain chain and provides some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, ranging from 650 to 6,000 feet in elevation. Scenic overlooks, historic structures, walking trails and waterfalls are just some of the highlights along the parkway. Stops include Peaks of Otter and historic towns like Charlottesville, Lexington and Roanoke.

Just across the Potomac River from downtown Washington, D.C., is a Northern Virginia oasis in the heart of the nation’s capital – the George Washington Memorial Parkway. It offers walking and biking trails set amid lush vegetation and a rolling landscape. Take the pedestrian bridge to Theodore Roosevelt Island, an 88-acre memorial to our 26th president.

Kentucky & Virginia share a rugged mountainous border of jagged peaks rising more than 4,135 feet into the horizon. Pine and Black Mountains create this phenomenal land mass through the Heart of Appalachia region, enticing you to experience the curvy backroads that form these unique travel routes. Traverse through valleys and peaks, forest land, and rolling farms through distinct towns and lots of curves. Many of the Appalachian Backroads’ trails intertwine with rivers and streams that our early pioneer settlers followed hundreds of years ago. The touring and travel is well suited (and chosen for) to motorcyclists. Check out Benge’s Revenge—it’s not for sissies!

Back of the Dragon. Photo by

Back of the Dragon. Photo by

Experience the unmatched beauty and motorcycle riding enjoyment provided by Virginia Route 16, the two-lane ribbon over the three mountains between Tazewell and Marion. Back of the Dragon features and sponsors several events throughout the year.

Scenic Route 39 carries you up steep mountains and along deep gorges. You’ll come upon the Virginia Horse Center and Goshen Pass, then you can enter the George Washington National Forest and pretty soon, you’ve entered the town of Warm Springs. As you continue on Route 39 toward the West Virginia border, you’ll pass the Hidden Valley and Blowing Springs recreation areas, with opportunities for camping, hiking and fishing.

Virginia has more important Civil War battlefields and sites than any other state. The Virginia Civil War Trails consist of 260 stops in five interconnected campaign driving tours marked with trailblazing signs. Many stops are located on or near Virginia’s scenic roads.

Attention history buffs, naturalists, architectural hounds, hikers, and wine aficionados! The Nelson Scenic Loop—comprised of four scenic byways—is a 50-mile auto and bike tour that features Nelson County’s bounty of natural, cultural, and historic attractions. Encompassing the Blue Ridge Parkway, Patrick Henry Highway, Beech Grove Road and Crabtree Falls Highway, the Nelson Scenic Loop traverses both the verdant foothills of the Piedmont as well as the summits of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Along the loop, you can encounter the landscape that was shaped by the clash of two planter cultures, the Scotch-Irish and Anglicans, who left a legacy of diverse farming practices, architecture, and local craft. There are a number of registered national historic landmarks along the way.

Take a ride through Capital Country, connecting the state and Confederate Capital of Richmond with the colonial Capital of Williamsburg. This byways tour starts with a visit to the Capitol Building in Richmond, or with St. John’s Church. You can stop by Civil War sites within the Richmond National Battlefield Park, then drive by the historic plantations along Route 5. The Byway ends in Colonial Williamsburg where you can park your bike and travel centuries back in time to the first days of our new democracy.

A typical byway drive in Southwest Virginia would be Route 52 north out of Wytheville. As you weave through Big Walker Mountain Byway, stop at the Big Walker Mountain Lookout for a breathtaking view. Then follow Route 42 southwest to Route 16. Going south will take you to Mount Rogers. North on Route 16 takes you toward Tazewell and Burkes Garden.



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Jerry says:

Where a Daytona hat helmet just like not having a helmet at all you here all the beauty that these parks and rides have to offer your views are not abstracted in any way and you comply with the helmet law everybody wins enjoy the ride enjoy the views enjoy yourself I ride my bike for freedom

Jerry says:

Daytona half helmet

Jerry says:

Boy I tell you talking into your phone instead of typing sure does createl a l
ot of missed typed words in there

we rode the blue ridge parkway last summer and let me tell you, it was awesome..loved the many places to stop and enjoy the beautiful views!

Ethan says:

Beautiful!! Thanks for the list. Definitely worth trying if you are a motorcycle enthusiast! Absolutely gorgeous.

Martin Beaver says:

Let me know when adult riders have “Freedom of Choice” on helmet use . Then I’ll come like thousands of others and ride your state byways and spend tourism dollars in Virginia. Until then I’ll spend my tourism money where I have “Freedom of Choice”. It is that simple! “Want Tourism Money, Change Hemet Law” .

Martin Beaver says:

By the way approximately 30 States have helmet choice for the adult rider.

DJ Cherry says:

Im sure Virginia will miss your tourism dollars. How shallow to suggest someone cares about your views on helmet laws. Virginia has some beautiful motorcycle roads and it is your loss not Virginias’. Go change the tires on your trailer.

Tammy Lee Jeffcoat says:

LOL…. I absolutely have to agree with you DJ Cherry..

KenSkin says:

Yep. Keep your busted skull in your own state lol.

Kahuna Jim says:

You can stay home in your State.. the cost to taxpayers of you not wearing a helmet far out weighs the money you would spend here… cleaning you up off our Highways… sure its a Choice…your logic does not hold water…LIVES SAVED… SIMPLE physics apply.. Bounce your head at even 30 miles without a helmet.. even if you live…far out ways the burden you put on yourself and family and Emergency resources that you will every spend here or even in your State…Sorry …Helmets Save Lives…Think of what and how it would effect your Family and Others…Would you let your Kids ride without a helmet… let alone… ride on your Motorcycle without one…Don’t think So…

Olli K says:

Don’t feed the troll…

Richard Greensides says:

Yes ! As a Canadian from Niagara Falls, Ontario. I,friends and a few family members have riddin most of these great areas.Beautiful scenery, roads and friendly fols along the way.Prices for food and motels are very reasonable too.You won’t be sorry you came here !

John says:

Richard, We have A trip planned to Niagara Falls the first week of August. Can you recommend any restaurants/bars and scenic rides to go on? Any help would be greatly appreciated

Golden Carper says:

Been on a couple of these—-wonderful riding and views

charles barber says:

This is on my to do list especially the civil war trails.

Peter says:

It’s definitely on my Check Off list. It is just a matter of when.

motolokox says:

Thank you so much for posting these. My participation in the Motorcycle Tour of the Commonwealth, while they lasted,afforded me the opportunity to see these and more not listed here. It is a shame it was eliminated A big bad shame.

Back of the Dragon cuts through Hungry Mother State Park, consider a cabin or camping stay there while you ride this road. Plus you could go for a swim afterward in the lake. It is fantastic!

Directions and more info is here: