One of the
most scenic (and historic) rides you can take on the East Coast
begins about an hour from downtown DC at the Front Royal entrance
to Skyline Drive.
you can take a leisurely cruise along the crest of the Blue Ridge
Mountains to Rockfish Gap about 105 miles away near the U.S. I-64
interchange and then, if you like, continue your journey on the
Blue Ridge Parkway. The Parkway parallels U.S. I-81 all the way
to Lexington and Roanoke, Virginia and continues to its terminus
near Asheville, North Carolina.
The pace is
gentle (35-45 MPH speed limits) but youll want to take your
time. There are billion-year-old rock outcroppings, magnificent
valleys and vistas (some with 50 mile views), elevation gains up
to 3,300 feet, abundant wildlife, trails everything you need
to take your mind off the faster pace of everyday modern life.
Drive and the Parkway can be accessed at multiple different points
along their lengths, making them convenient to reach and ideal for
half-day, full-day or multi-day excursions. The Parkway is extremely
popular with bikers, RVers and nature lovers and the good
news is that with the exception of portions of Skyline Drive close
to DC, its rarely crowded in part because the surrounding
areas are generally very rural.
One of the
most enjoyable sections is the approximately 150 mile piece of the
Parkway that begins near Lexington, Virginia (home of VMI) and the
locally famous Natural Bridge and (for the adventurous) Natural
Bridge Zoo. Here you can take your own safari and meet
Ostriches, Emus, Elephants, Bison and other big game animals up
close and personal on the free-ranging 100-plus acre campus. Exit
the Parkway onto RT. 11 North and travel three miles.
southbound will take you into Roanoke, Virginia where you
can stop at the overlook on Mill Mountain and see a locally famous
50 foot neon star (Roanoke got its name, the Star City, for this
reason) as well as magnificent views of the Roanoke valley. Exit
the Parkway at about milepost 120 onto the Mill
Mountain spur; parking is near the top.
has numerous other attractions and makes a great pit stop. Exit
the Parkway onto US 220 North to get downtown.
you can saddle up again and proceed up into the mountains of Floyd
County, the cute little one stoplight (literally) town of Floyd
and the nearby Tuggles
Gap restaurant at about milepost 165. Tuggles Gap is a famous
biker watering hole and local attraction just off the Parkway (visible
from the road) on US 8. On most warm spring/summer days youll
find at least a dozen bikes lined up out front and lots of
good conversation waiting for you inside. Dont be afraid!
It may look like a dive, but the people are some of the nicest youll
find. To get to downtown Floyd, exit the Parkway just before Tuggles
Gap onto Rt. 8 and take a right at the stop sign. Rt. 8 will take
you directly into downtown Floyd, where you can visit the Floyd
Country Store and enjoy live Bluegrass music on Friday and Saturday
nights and other venues.
A bit farther
southbound past Rocky Knob Recreation area (milepost 169) (camping/hiking
opportunities) lies Chateau
Morisette home of the Back Dog and one of Virginias
premier wineries. Exit the Parkway at milepost 171.5 and follow
the signs to the winery.
done there, you may want to stop by Mabry
Mill where they serve some of the best buckwheat and
sweet potato pancakes in the country. During the summer months,
the restored circa 1900s Mill is open to the public and there are
period interactive exhibits such as blacksmithing in
a working forge.
or rustic cabins are available nearby for overnighting, too. Or
you can stay in one of the several hotels available in or near the
town of Floyd.
Pacific Coast Highway
runs along the ocean from Southern California near LA to Northern
California/the Golden Gate Bridge. Take two days or two weeks!
Tail of the Dragon/Deals Gap
curves in 11 miles stretch of US 129 in TN near the NC border
is well worth going out of your way to experience. A mecca for motorcyclists;
just watch out for the cops and the curves!
sea-side views from Key West to the tip of Georgia, including barrier
islands. Not to be missed.
through Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, the only national park
in Americas Northeast; appx. 40 miles of incredible scenery,
including rugged, California-like coasts. Ferry rides are a popular
El Camino Real (Kings Highway)
21 from Toledo Bend Reservoir near Milam to San Antonio; East Texas
oldest highway. It dates to 1690 and follows the course of old Indian
Big Cottonwood Canyon//UT90
This is one
of Utahs best roads; dramatic views through the Wasatch National
Forest/Kings Peak (13,584 feet), the highest point in the
state. Overnight/outdoor camping/hiking opportunities available.
Bush Highway/Saguaro Lake
85 miles, round-trip,
not far from downtown Phoenix, AZ. Tremendous high-country desert
views, including Tonto National Forest. See Blue Heron and other
wildlife at Saguaro Lake.
Kahinahina Scenic Drive
This 37 mile
road provides unique, close-up views of Mauna Kea from appx. 6,500
feet above sea level to nearly 10,000 feet. Plan on at least half
a day to see all the sights along the way.
US 89 Montana, Great Falls to Browning Road
Route 89 runs
north-south all the way from the Mexican border at Nogales, Arizona
to the Canadian border at Glacier National Park. This stretch
about 124 miles takes you from Great Falls through the Blackfeet
Indian Reservation near Browning. Rocky mountains to your left,
the Great Plains to your right.
with permission from EricPetersAutos.com.
[send him mail] is an
automotive columnist and author of Automotive
Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2011 Eric Peters
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