The Best Motorcycle Routes in Western USA

Welcome to the American Wild West! To help you plan your bike trip and get the most out of it, we’ve listed our absolute favourite rides and the best motorcycle routes in Western USA…

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The Best Motorcycle Routes in the Western United States

The Western United States is seriously impressive and a must for any motorcycle rider the world over. Whether you want to ride a Harley-Davidson on long asphalts straights crossing the country or go into the back country on an adventure bike, there’s something for everyone – and it’s stunning. This guide primarily focuses on the Mountain States, but also includes famous rides throughout the West. 

We spent a few months riding around the American West on our Honda CRF300Ls between Washington and Arizona and were blown away by its beauty. We could have easily spent a year in Utah alone just exploring because there are so many incredible roads

So, to help you plan your motorcycle tour of the Western States and get the most out of it, we’ve pinned down the best riding routes in one easy guide. We have split this guide into our absolute favourites from the Mountain States and then a selection of more great routes after. Enjoy and happy riding! 

If you’d like to see the route we took through the US and read about our experiences, check out these two articles next. 

READ MORE:

Beartooth Highway

The Beartooth Highway is our all time favourite road route in the USA. In fact, it’s one of our favourite asphalt routes of all time!

It’s a beautiful stretch of road from Cooke City, Wyoming to Red Lodge, Montana along the 212.  The route is just under 70 miles long and takes you up to 10,500 feet. It’s only accessible from May to September and closed and covered in snow for the rest of the year. 

Consider where you’ll camp or stay, there  are national forest campsites you can camp in with a motorcycle. These are minimal cost (around 10USD per night) and must be paid for by depositing cash in an envelope at the entrance. There are also private (less primitive) campsites, but they don’t allow motorcycles. Unless you’re absolutely loaded, the hotels in Silver and Cooke are crazy expensive. 

If you have time, ride to Red Lodge, stay there the night and the next day you can ride the road back and down to Cody in a day. 

Note that in the Google Map above, the route may be incorrect dependent on the time of year you’re reading this article. The route is closed in winter and so Google may show you an alternative northern loop – this isn’t the Beartooth pass. The BT is along the 212.

Chief Joseph Highway

The Chief Joseph Scenic Byway links to the Beartooth Highway and leads south to Cody. The town of Cody is named after Buffallo Bill Cody, and is a must visit – we recommend staying there a few nights and definitely watching the rodeo if it’s in town. 

The 47-mile Chief Joseph Highway (aka Wyoming Highway 296) is a beautiful stretch of road that leads up to a panoramic vista of surrounding mountains. There’s a sad story around the pass, have a read on the Travel Wyoming website.  

Lolo Pass

Lolo Pass is a stunning little ride with a hundred bends through the Bitterroot Range of the northern Rocky Mountains between Idaho and Montana. It’s a beautiful pass (and probably even better in the sunshine). There’s a fantastic lodge that serves excellent burgers about halfway. The pass has some interesting history too, have a read here

Arches National Park and the 128

Utah is our favourite state for riding. The scenery is jaw dropping and there’s no better way to explore it than on a motorcycle. There’s plenty of brilliant asphalt riding and out of this world off-roading too. 

And one of our absolute favourite routes is from Cisco (a cool well worth visiting abandoned town), take the 128 scenic byway towards Dewey and stop off at Fisher Towers. Then head down to Moab, stay a few days and then ride the phenomenal Arches National Park route. 

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is one of the best national parks in the USA. Brimming with geysers, the baby Grand Canyon, stunning backdrops and wildlife. It’s a great ride, but needs to be done in the shoulder seasons to try and avoid tourists as it can get very busy. You’ve also got the Grand Tetons nearby too, which are worth riding to. If you’re planning on staying in Yellowstone and camping, make sure you book in advance and take food with you because the sites get booked up very fast. 

Moki Dugway

The Moki Dugway is an awesome gravel route in southern Utah linking Fry Canyon to Mexican Hat. It’s a shortcut route and the official road name is Highway 261. 

It’s a zig-zagging ladder with incredible views that you must take on your way to Arizona. 

Forest Gump and Monument Valley

Okay, so this is just one long straight road, but riding the 163 south to Monument Valley is special – and what makes it even more special is when you hit the Forest Gump viewpoint. It’s from the scene in the film where he decides to stop running. Although Forest says: “I’m pretty tired… think I’ll go home now” you’ve got to keep on going, because you’ll soon cross the state line into Arizona and it’s well worth exploring Monument Valley. There are also Indigenous American camps, where you can pitch your tent on their land and camp looking out over the desert. It’s an incredible experience. 

More Famous American West Motorcycle Routes

Going to the Sun

Note that in the Google Map above, the route may be incorrect dependent on the time of year you’re reading this article. The route is closed in winter and so Google may show you an alternative southern road – this isn’t the Going to the Sun road. It’s from Saint Mary to Red Rock Point and down to West Glacier.

This is an incredible route into the Rocky Mountains of northern Montana. Note that you must reserve and book a ticket to ride this road and can’t just turn up.  

Pacific Coast Highway

Note that in the Google Map above, the route may be incorrect due to a big road closure on Route 1. So check before you leave to see if the road has reopened (scheduled to be open again in summer 2024). 

Near 500 miles of California dreamin’. This is a well ridden and much loved route down the hip western coast of the USA. Got a cruiser or Harley-Davidson? You’ll love this one. To ride this road, jump on Highway 1 and don’t get off!

Million Dollar Highway

Note that in the Google Map above, the route may be incorrect due to the road being closed for winter. So it may show a detour. The road is from Ouray to Silverton. 

The famous Million Dollar Highway takes you through the San Juan mountains of Colorado.  Riders usually take the entire road from Ridgway to Durango, but the good stuff is between Ouray and Silverton. 

Off-road motorcycle rides in Western USA

Shot taken at an AltRider and Jimmy Lewis off-road event in Death Valley

If you’re specifically after adventure bike and off-road riding routes in the Western US, have a look at these three resources.

Death Valley – Death Valley is the hottest place on earth (visit Furnace Creek if you can!). There’s insane off-roading here, but you need to know what you’re doing as riding in extreme heat and getting it wrong can prove fatal. Jimmy Lewis operates a great off-road school in nearby Pahrump: jimmylewisoffroad.com

Backcountry Discovery Routes (BDR) – You’ll find maps, routes, info and loads more information on incredible off-road routes throughout a big selection of states (again, most of which are located in the Mountain States). More info here: ridebdr.com

Trans America Trail (TAT) – If crossing the entire USA using primarily off-road trails sounds like the adventure of a lifetime, then you’ll want to look into this. Or, take your time and tackle sections of it on your trip. More info here: transamtrail.com 

Read more on motorcycle travel in the USA

Thanks for checking out The Best Motorcycle Routes in the Western United States. We hope you enjoyed it! Here’s a few more articles on motorcycle travel in the USA and North America that we recommend you read next. 

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Are you planning a motorcycle route in the USA? Do you have any questions, tips or suggestions? Let us know in the comments below. 

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