Thursday, August 23, 2018

Don't Miss These Four Mountain Roads Around Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains

Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains feature a variety of mountain roads that are breathtaking any time of the year. Here are some of our favorite roads to take in nature and get away from it all.

Blue Ridge Parkway 
A road going through a tunnel

When trying to find the best views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it's hard to ignore a road that was named in their honor. The Blue Ridge Parkway offers stunning views and is completely devoid of stoplights, billboards, and commercial vehicles. It also boasts easy curves, making it particularly good for breaking in a new or pre-owned bike. But be sure to plan ahead: the Blue Ridge Parkway also features drastic altitude changes of up to 3,000 ft. within an hour, meaning the weather can change dramatically during a ride.

Spanning 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina, Blue Ridge Riders is conveniently located under 2 miles from the parkway, making it an easy access point for riders. Keep in mind that the speed limit is only 45 mph, dropping down to 35 mph in curvy areas, so this is not a speedy ride. But with more than 200 pull-off areas and overlooks to enjoy the natural setting, riders will want to take their time.

NC Route 9 South to Chimney Rock

Black Mountain Rag (also known as "The Sidewinder") is a scenic route on NC Route 9 South that carries history in its name. It was named for a "rag," or a tune with many twists and scales. Black Mountain Rag offers a number of twists of its own as it winds to the top of the village of Chimney Rock overlooking Hickory Nut Gorge, an especially beautiful sight when seen at sundown. Riders can even continue past Chimney Rock to enjoy the stunning Lake Lure, also the setting for countless movies, including Dirty Dancing and Forrest Gump.

Around 31 miles total, riders should plan for about 2-3 hours of travel time. The start of this route is located just on NC Route 70 at its intersection with Route 9 South (just 15 minutes from the Blue Ridge Riders dealership) and is conveniently accessible from I-40. For a loop, take NC 74 towards Asheville and then get on Route US 40 East toward Black Mountain.

Cherohala Skyway

After 34 years of construction, the majestic Cherohala Skyway was finally completed in 1996. This 40-mile long dream road for riders gets its name by crossing through the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests, and it also connects Robbinsville, North Carolina to Tellico Plains, Tennessee. Along the way, elevations can range from 900 feet to over 5,400 feet above sea level when crossing from North Carolina into Tennessee!

This ride should be saved for a longer trip, as riders will need to travel around two hours to reach the start of the skyway at Santeetlah Gap from Asheville. It's also best to avoid this route during winter nights, as inclement weather can make it frosty and hazardous.

Tail of the Dragon

Just around 90 miles outside of Asheville, the Tail of the Dragon has become a rite of passage for motorcycle owners—maybe because it navigates 318 curves in 11 miles through Great Smokey Mountain National Park, and it's a great way for riders to get their kicks. It's not the best ride for those who enjoy more lonesome roads, though, as its popularity means it can see up to 15,000 motorcycles and sports cars in a single day. In fact, riders may even run into wildlife along the way, as bears, deer, turkeys, and wild boars have all been spotted on the road. The Tail of the Dragon is not recommended for beginner riders as it is very technically challenging.

This infamous passage of U.S. Highway 129 starts around Robbinsville, about a two-hour drive west of Asheville, and has a speed limit of 30 miles per hour to help navigate the endless curves.

Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains offer some of the most memorable sites for motorcyclists of any skill level. If you'd like to get a bike and take any of these rides, give us a call at 828-505-7575 today for more information about our inventory, trade-ins, or financing! Also, feel free to call us to discuss local rides and riding conditions. All of our staff at Blue Ridge Riders are motorcycle enthusiasts who regularly ride.

Thursday, August 2, 2018


U.S. 74A AND THE HICKORY NUT GORGE: Known as the old Charlotte Highway, U.S. 74A runs Southwest out of Asheville to join U.S. 64 in Rutherfordton. As most motorcyclists can attest, the ride uphill can be more enjoyable, so these route descriptions approach the route from the piedmont. From the west, the road follows the Broad River as it flows out of Lake Lure. Travelers hug the western edge of the lake as they travel up the gorge. On the left, towers Chimney Rock, the iconic monolith from which visitors atop the landmark enjoy stunning views. This road proves popular with motorcyclists, who can stop and enjoy the many shops, restaurants and Chimney Rock State Park. 

The highway climbs through the Hickory Nut Gorge and crests the Eastern Continental Divide, which runs along much of the Blue Ridge Escarpment from Virginia to Georgia. The Gorge offers views of rugged cliffs and the 400-foot Hickory Nut Falls, one of the highest waterfalls east of the Rockies. The section nearest the crest of the mountain is the most technically challenging with a series of hairpin turns descending into the valley southeast of Asheville. In summer, the northern side of the ridge offers a cool, green escape from the heat.

Continuing north brings riders to the Blue Ridge Parkway near Interstate 40 just 23 miles from Lake Lure. This makes a good starting point for riders traveling out of Asheville and descending the escarpment.

Several side roads off U.S. 74A make for enjoyable diversions. U.S. 64 West heads up out of the gorge toward Hendersonville. N.C. 9 to the east takes you on a scenic route to Black Mountain. After you crest the mountain range, Upper Brush Creek Road to Cane Creek Road serves as nice detour as you head towards Fletcher.

The details and photograph of this ride were graciously provided by Michael E. Gouge a seasoned motorcyclist here in Western North Carolina.