Best Midwest Motorcycle Touring

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Mr. Chase Manhattan

Best Motorcycle Touring in the Midwest

Some of the most beautiful roads in North America can be found in the Midwest and there is no better way to see them then on a Touring Motorcycle. Whether you are riding a Honda Goldwing or a Harley Davidson Electra Glide, you and your riding partner will experience breathtaking scenery, quaint towns and delish Midwest cooking on any of these trips. Here is a list of some of the best touring trips the Midwest has to offer, so dust off your saddle, grab your co rider and put some miles on that trusty stead!

Michigan, the Tunnel of Trees

The Tunnel of Trees is found close to the Northern US border on M-119, this is one of Michigan’s most iconic attractions. Starting just north of Harbor springs, you will cover 20 miles enveloped by cedars and evergreens that tower over you. There are also several shops and restaurants to choose from, such as Good Heart General Store. This stop extends a welcome to all bikers by offering group lunches, like pot pies and specialty merchandise.  If you are hankering for some traditional polish food, Legs Inn is where you will want to stop. Further down M-119, you can visit Sturgeon Lake or Wilderness State Park where you can rent a cabin or set up camp. One more thing to consider, Tunnel of Trees is known for narrow roads and sharp turns, so be sure to ride during daylight.

Illinois, Shawnee National Forest

Located between the Mississippi and Ohio rivers in Southern Illinois, lies the Garden of the Gods at Shawnee National Forest.  Known for its majestic scenery including waterfalls, lakes, caves and plenty of wildlife, this 46 mile road is an outdoorsman dream. If camping isn’t your thing, there are several hotels, and restaurants in Harrisburg. Several bikers suggest grabbing a bite in Harrisburg before your ride in Shawnee, which is 20 miles away. You could also opt to pack a picnic for when you stop to stretch your legs and go for a hike or explore some caves. You can also have your picture taken with a Big Foot or grab some ice cream at the Garden of Gods outpost before heading down the road. Bikers love their ice cream!

Indiana, Nashville

Ever heard of little Nashville?  If you are a Hoosier you have, Located 60 miles south of Indianapolis in the heart of Southern Indiana. Motorcycle enthusiasts will tell you it’s one of the best motorcycle rides in Indiana. Not only is the scenery outstanding, but Nashville has an assortment of accommodations including rustic cabins, B@B’s, hotels, motels and camping sites. There is an array of dining options to meet every craving, excellent shopping and wineries. The town is just a few miles from Bill Monroe Music Park and the Bluegrass Hall of Fame.  Little Nashville is a hot spot for touring bikes throughout the summer and fall months, so make your reservations early and be sure to practice your two step.

Ohio’s Dragon Tail

This destination is exactly what you would expect, twists and turns and elevation changes. Coming in at only 20 miles in length, this road is well known in the Bike community. Found in South Eastern Ohio on route 78 between Glouster and McConnelsville, there is beautiful scenery with plenty of photo opts. Bikers can also stop and see the “Big Muskie” bucket, not really a bucket actually its one of the world’s largest earth moving machines (Pretty cool). If you want to stop for lunch, everyone raves about “Boondocks” then you can continue down route 78 and visit Burr Oak State Park or Wayne National Forest.

Lake Superior Byway, Wisconsin

Wisconsin has beautiful shorelines along two of the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, a biker’s feast for the eyes. The Lake Superior Byway covers 70 miles of breathtaking views along the northern edge of Wisconsin. With plenty of options for lodging, you will also find restaurants that offer local fresh fare, stores that celebrate Midwest artists and for the more adventurous, fishing and hiking. The sun worshipper in you will fall in love with the nearby beautiful beaches. For new or experienced motorcyclists, this trip has something for everyone.

 Needles Highway, South Dakota

This is one route that every touring motorcyclist should have on a bucket list. Just 30 miles south of Rapid City, and in the heart of Custer State Park, lies this 14 mile stretch of glorious highway. With sharp turns, narrow tunnels and unbelievable scenery, Needles Highway will become a favorite destination. Completed in 1922, this road is surrounded by 71, 000 acres of birch, aspen and jagged “needle” like formations that inspired its namesake. It should take roughly 45 minute to an hour to complete the ride. There are some nearby lodges for those who want to explore, along with Jeep tours, boating, hiking and of course Buffalo.

Iowa, Loess Hills

This scenic Bypass is 221 miles of winding, paved roads that will leave you in awe. A northern ride will take you to Big Sioux River, the Central ride overlooks hills and River Valley and the Southern ride takes you to the crossroads of the west. For history buffs, outdoorsman and those just wanting to get away, Loess Hills covers it all. Those who feel like lady luck is on their side can check out these three casinos Ameristar, Harrah’s and Horseshoe. Also available are several choices for lodging, dining and entertainment and if casinos aren’t your thing there is plenty of beautiful views, historical sites and wildlife. Either way, Loess Hills will make you feel like a winner.

With so many roads to travel down, how do you choose? As much as everyone fancies themselves a Marlon Brando, it’s important to know your experience level. Ask yourself and your riding partner (If you have one) how long can you comfortably ride, how far you do you want to travel, is it a day trip or weekend getaway or longer? Be sure to check your GPS for road closures, construction or other delays. More importantly make sure your bike is in tip top condition, road side assistance is a plus and always plan for unexpected emergencies. Last but not least, no matter where the road takes you, Illinois, South Dakota, Wisconsin or Indiana, ride well and be safe.

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Hey y’all! It’s Chase Manhattan, a life-long gearhead, tinkerer, and adrenaline junky. I like to write about all things technical in the Harley Davidson and motorcycling space.