Fall 2012 Scenic Road Trip was a loop from Mt. Vernon, IL. east through five states including rides on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Tail of the Dragon, the Red River Gorge, the Crooked Road, and some outstanding back country roads.Day One: Mando and I left home heading east to Stanton, Ky. via I-64 and the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway (Ky.9000/ Ky.402). We overnighted at the Abner Motel (http://www.abnermotel.com/). (313 miles)
Day Two: Next morning we left the Abner Motel on Ky.11, which happens to be at one end of our first major ride: The Red River Gorge Scenic Byway (http://byways.org/explore/byways/2482) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_River_Gorge). Follow Ky.11 south to Ky.77, head east on Ky.77 to the junction of Ky.715. Follow Ky.715 south to junction with Ky.15. Head north on Ky.15 to junction of Ky.11. Turn south on Ky.11 and ride to Zachariah, KY to finish the Byway. The Byway is a 57 mile ride; however, the forty-two miles of winding, tree-lined roads through the gorge was the best section. This segment included the 900' NADA tunnel (http://byways.org/explore/byways/2482/places/32616/). After finishing the ride, we U-turned on Ky.11 and stopped at Miguel's Pizza (http://www.miguelspizza.com/) in Slade, KY for some food and relaxation. Miguel's, it turns out, is the meeting place for the rock climbers that see the Red River Gorge as their 'Heaven on Earth. We then rode to Brakes, VA by continuing north on Ky.11 until it connected with the Mountain Parkway (Ky.9000/ Ky.402) where we headed east. Eventually reaching north bound Ky.114 before finishing by continuing north on Ky.80 until we reached the Gateway Motel. (https://plus.google.com/106149410727945587718/about?gl=us&hl=en) The Gateway is an older motel and off the well-beaten pathway. Other motel options were noted in Elkhorn City, Ky. (189 miles)
Day Three: We connected with the Crooked Road (CR), Virgini's Musical Heritage Trail (http://thecrookedroad.org/), as we left Brakes, VA. The CR winds along the western and southern borders of Virginia on routes Va.23, Va.83, & Va.58. The CR connects many musical venues among them the Ralph Stanley Museum, The Carter Fold, Rex Theater, and Floyd's Country Store. Wayside Markers provide information about their particular locations. The only problem with many of the venues is that most are only open on the weekend. Nevertheless, it is a good ride. We finished in Bristol, Va. (152miles)
Day Four: We abandoned the CR for a bit of I-81 riding to Marion, Va. where we turned south onto an unexpectedly good ride. We followed Va.16 then Va.601 to reconnect with the CR on Va.58. This section included all of the right ingredients for an enjoyable cruse - winding roads, changing elevations, and picturesque views. Although not a designated scenic ride, it easily satisfied our requirements. We then turned east on 58 to Galax, Va. where we headed south on Va. 89 to connect with the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Ridge_Parkway). Although our plan was to head south on the BRP, we turned north so that we could visit the Blue Ridge Music Center (http://www.blueridgeparkway.org/v.php?pg=120) , which is one of the sites on the CR. At the Music center we received valuable information about the BRP from the Rangers including recommended overlooks, unique histories and valuable maps pinpointing gas stations.The BRP was as advertised-beautiful. We rode it during the last week in September. Fall was in the air and many of the leaves were changing colors. Furthermore, since we were on it during the week, traffic was minimal. We exited the BRP at Boone, NC. (204miles)
Day Five: Boone, NC is the home of Appalachian State University (htthttp://www.appstate.edu/p://www.appstate.edu/). Consequently, Boone offers a change in attitude and behaviors along the Parkway.The next morning we reconnected with the BRP and continued south past endless hills and valleys each one just as beautiful as the last. We stopped at many overlooks and visitor centers. The Linn Cove Visitors Center (http://www.virtualblueridge.com/parkway_tour/VisitorCenters%5C304_0%5Cindex.asp) provides access to the Linn Cove Viaduct (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linn_Cove_Viaduct) which was the last bridge completed on the Parkway in 1987, 52 years after the first section was finished. What a gorgeous bridge! If you find structures interesting, Linn Cove Visitors Center is worth a stop.
We continued south on the BRP with every intention of exiting at it southern end near Cherokee, NC. However, because darkness was approaching rather quickly and since it didn't make much sense to be on a scenic highway in the dark, we stopped at Waynesville, NC. We had dinner at a restaurant called Clyde's (http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/82/803031/restaurant/Asheville/Clydes-Restaurant-Waynesville ). Our meals and service were good plus we connected with other riders from the parkway. (186 miles)
Day Six: After riding the last 26 miles of the BRP, we traveled west on NC.441 to NC.74 where we continued west to NC.28. We traveled north on NC.28 to connect with NC.129 and ride the world famous 'Tail of the Dragon.' (http://www.tailofthedragon.com/) The 'Dragon' is an 11 miles long segment of Tn.129 that has 318 turns. Of course we enjoyed the moments prior to riding the 'Dragon' by taking pictures of each other in front of the dragon signs, by eating at the restaurant, and by sharing the 'Dragon' experience with the other riders. Indeed, a quality motorcycling moment.
After 'slaying' the 'Dragon' we headed home via north bound Tn.33, north bound Tn.335, and west bound Tn.321 to connect to north bound I-75 which in turn connected to west bound I-40. We switched to north bound I-24 just north of Nashville, TN eventually overnighting in Clarksville, Tn. (358 miles)Day Seven: Rode home to Mt. Vernon, Il. (197 miles) (1599 miles total)
Mando and I were lucky in that we kept ahead of some bothersome thunderstorms that were moving from west to east as they drifted south. We put on raingear once but could have easily counted the drops on the windscreen. Secondly, the leaves on the trees seem to be changing as we continued on the trip with the addition of more and more red, orange and yellow fall colors. Lastly, as previously mentioned, were we riding during the week, the motorways were not crowded. This made being a 'gawking' tourist a bit easier and safer.
This is a motorcycle ride in the states Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virgina. This motorcycle route has 7 scenery characteristics and other road conditions to help you plan your road trip. This motorcycle map was created by mtnair03 in October. Click here to see other Motorcycle Roads by mtnair03