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Best Motorcycle Rides on the West Coast

 

Some of the best stretches of open road in the world reside squarely along the West Coast. It’s hard to beat the combination of sunshine, blue skies, twisting pavement, spectacular elevation changes and scenic views of the Pacific Ocean. Throw in endless roadside eateries, local attractions and historic sites along the way and you’ve found the closest thing to nirvana for a motorcycle rider.

 

We’ll take you from California, up through Oregon and on into Washington state, covering the most popular highways and byways—including why each scenic motorcycle route is worthy of the trek whether you live in the area or not.

California Motorcycle Rides

 

California state’s long, narrow body sandwiched between towering mountain peaks and pristine blue ocean creates an amazing diversity of climate and ecology just waiting to be explored. If you’re up for it, you’ll find your motorcycle seat is one of the best vantage points to take it all in. Here are three of the most popular routes, including the famous Pacific Coast Highway.

Pro Conseil

These California roads are long and winding. Know your motorcycle’s fuel range and plan out your pit stops using a navigation app such as RIDE COMMAND.

numéro 1

Pacific Coast Highway

Consider taking this California coast trip from north to south and your motorcycle will always be oceanside. Historic Route 1 runs most of the length of the state, topping out at over 650 miles. There is not a longer route in California and the Pacific Coast Highway features attractions such as Hearst Castle, the Santa Monica Pier, Pismo Beach and Carmel County’s famous 17-mile drive. This ride is best planned over several days with plenty of stops along the way.

number 2

Angeles Crest Highway

Take a scenic tour through the San Gabriel Mountains, featuring steep mountainous terrain created by rapid tectonic uplift. Located in Los Angeles County, this area offers must-see attractions such as the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, the Angeles National Forest, Strawberry Peak, Dawson Saddle, Big Tujunga Creek and more. The Angeles Crest Highway's proximity to LA makes this a great excursion for travelers looking to escape the city’s faster pace for a day or two.

redwood highway
number 3

Redwood Highway

Considered to be one of California’s most scenic rides, the Redwood Highway's 175 miles meanders from grove to grove of these massive giants that naturally grow in clusters. The area is home to abundant wildlife including majestic elk, a canyon of ferns and so much more. Be sure to take a pass through the Chandelier Tree—a towering tunneled-out redwood you can drive your motorcycle through.

Oregon Motorcycle Rides

 

Move farther north into Oregon and you’ll discover a few differences from the Golden State. For starters, Oregon only has about 70 days of sunshine, while California averages about 205. You’ll also notice changes in ecology, terrain and maybe even sense a more laid-back vibe should you choose any of these three popular routes through the Beaver State.

Pro Conseil

Be prepared for changing weather conditions, even in the summer months. Oregon's weather can be unpredictable, with sudden changes in temperature, wind and precipitation. Wear layers and bring rain gear—even if the forecast looks clear.

cascade lakes scenic byway
number 4

Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway

Up for some incredible lake and mountain views? Then this is your route. Located in central Oregon, the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway takes you on a 66-mile journey through a ruggedly beautiful portion of Oregon on the eastern side of the Cascades. Bring your lunch and camera phone, and picnic beside Lava Lake under the shadow of Mt. Bachelor before heading south to check out the massive rainbow trout in the Crane Prairie Reservoir.

Three capes scenic loop
number 5

Three Capes Scenic Loop

Heading back to the coast, there’s another idyllic ride that heads from Tillamook to Pacific City. You’ll be treated to mile after mile of stunning views on a twisting road hugging Oregon’s rugged coastline. As the name implies, you’ll definitely want to check out the three capes including Cape Meares, Cape Lookout and Cape Kiwanda as you motor in and out of beach towns, dairy country and second-growth forest.

hells canyon scenic byway
number 6

Hells Canyon Scenic Byway

Journey back to a quieter time on this 218-mile loop around the Wallowa Mountains in northeast Oregon, where the Snake River begins its descent into Idaho and the massive canyon it’s formed. Nicknamed the All-American Road, the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway journeys from lush valleys to scenic mountain tops, where you can take in views of majestic basalt cliffs, open grassy spaces and catch a whiff of fresh pines. If you’re lucky, you might even run across a cattle drive.

Washington Motorcycle Rides

 

There is no shortage of places to ride and things to see in Washington state. This picturesque area is home to an incredible array of vistas, villages, volcanic peaks and plenty of stops for the social rider. The Northern Cascades Highway is one of those must-see experiences. We’ve also listed a few other favorites that highlight this state’s scenic beauty and twisting roadways.

Pro Conseil

Winthrop, located on the Northern Cascades Scenic Route, welcomes motorcycle riders to stop and enjoy this old west town with many motorcycle friendly amenities and lodging options.

Northern cascades scenic highway
number 7

Northern Cascades Scenic

If your favorite rides involve rapid changes in landscape, elevation and scenery, then you’ll love this motorcycle road trip. The 140-mile byway starts in Methow Valley, offering a vibe straight out of the old west. Riders will continue up into the North Cascades National Park and be treated to views of rugged mountain peaks, soaring rocky spires and majestic waterfalls before dropping back down into the verdant green Skagit Valley.

Olympic peninsula loop
number 8

Olympic Peninsula Loop

Day-trippers should plan for a 10-hour trip from Seattle (longer with stops) full of some of the most impressive mountain, lakeshore and Pacific Coast views you’ve ever seen. The Olympic Peninsula is a large arm of land resting on the other side of the Puget Sound from Seattle. It’s home to Olympic National Park, and the loop treats riders to lavender farms, gargantuan trees, roaring waterfalls and quaint Victorian towns. Plan a weekend and stay awhile.

Palouse scenic byway
number 9

The Palouse Scenic Byway

Trek inland and enter a world of alpine forests, lakes and waterfalls around a farming community harvesting flowing seas of wheat. This unforgettable byway brings riders through Palouse Falls State Park to the Steptoe Battlefield and the historic Barron Flour Mill. You won’t want to miss the views from Steptoe Butte. Also consider stops at the Roy Chatters Newspaper Museum and the town of Pullman—home to Washington State University.

If you're looking for more inspiration, check out Episode 1 of Indian Motorcycle's Epic Pursuits following riders on Indian Pursuit Motorcycles exploring the Pacific Northwest.

Best Time To Ride on the West Coast

 

The West Coast plays host to a dramatic diversity of climates, including rainy seasons, snow and gusty winds. But generally speaking, riding between spring and fall will offer the best conditions across the board. Rides through higher elevations can be impacted by cold, ice and snow in early spring and late fall, so check local conditions and road closures before heading out. Of course, the farther south you head the longer you can ride—making Southern California road trips a year-round experience.

 

Always check the weather conditions along the length of your motorcycle road trips before you ride, and use a weather and traffic app to help keep you up to date on rapidly changing conditions.

Plan Out Your Trip and Go

 

Once you’ve decided on a destination, take some time to plan out your scenic motorcycle route and pick out places to eat or stay along the way. While you’re out there, take your time and enjoy the scenery. After all, these routes are not a race to the finish, but hundreds of life’s moments to be experienced and savored along the way. So, make the most of it. We hope to see you out there.

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