Washington - Motorcycle Roads and Riders

Washington - Motorcycle Roads and Riders

Few people realize that Washington State not only boasts gorgeous scenery, but that it is also loaded with great motorcycle roads, as well. Its Cascades Mountains include a restless volcano, Mt. St. Helens, which last erupted in 1980, and its coastline is ruggedly stunning. Washington’s motorcycle roads include twisty, crazed rides down and over its mountains, as well as relaxing cruises overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Twisty lovers should head out to State Route 20, which is also known as the North Cascades Highway. This road crosses through the Cascades in northern Washington and is a route that challenges its riders with plenty of twisties, long sweepers, and elevation changes that take motorcyclists from sea level to 8000 feet. The views on State Route 20 are simply stunning, with towering snow-capped mountains, waterfalls, and picturesque lakes. Riders can pick up Route 20 off of Interstate-5 and take it east until it merges with US-97, near Omak. This route, which crosses through the North Cascade National Park, is only open from April to October.

Washington’s Spirit Lake Highway, which is also known as State Route 504, takes riders through the St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, an area that was practically destroyed by the restless volcano’s devastating 1980 eruption. Today, the land is in the midst of renewing itself and riders will see new growth and trees starting to reclaim the blast zone. Spirit Lake Highway is a sweeper lover’s heaven, offering up mile after mile of smooth turning corners and steep inclines and declines. This 54-mile road will take riders past several beautiful lakes, including Silver and Coldwater Lakes, and ends at Johnston Ridge, where riders can view the volcano’s gaping crater. A word of warning: motorcyclists should be on the lookout for slow-moving tour buses, especially around blind corners. To reach Spirit Lake Highway, riders can pick up State Route 504 in Castle Rock, which is exit 49 off of I-5, and then just head east.

Scenery and twisties make Chuckanut Drive – or State Route 11 -- a popular ride with both motorcyclists and cagers. This is a 21-mile narrow road with tight curves that often come in bunches. This road with a funny name first takes its riders through some deceivingly flat farmland, before showing its real colors, as it climbs up a mountain and through forests, eventually leading to stunning views of Puget Sound. Unfortunately, because this road is so scenic, it can be clogged with cagers, so riders wanting to avoid a traffic jam should plan their rides to avoid peak sightseeing hours. To get to this route, which begins in northern Burlington, motorcyclists need to take I-5 to exit 231, which will place them on Chuckanut Drive.

Motorcyclists looking for another technical road that boasts pretty scenery will want to head over to Washington State Route 261. This approximately 30-mile road has a lot of tight twisties, fast sweepers, straights, elevation changes, and it has the added bonus of a spectacular 198-foot waterfall at its end. A word of caution: the last bit of the road leading to the falls is an unpaved, well-maintained gravel stretch.

Riders can pick up this route, which is located in eastern Washington, by heading south out of Washtucna on Highway 260 until they reach Highway 261. Riders then take this road for 11 miles until they spot a sign for Palouse Falls. A left here will take motorcyclists onto the gravel road that leads to the waterfall.

Motorcyclists will also find a number of rallies, rides and shows in Washington, including the Sound Rider! Rally in the Gorge. This is a five-day event held in August that actually combines four mini rallies – the Sport bike Northwest, Sport Touring Northwest, Dual sport Northwest and the Maxi Scoot Northwest rallies -- into one. This combo rally is held in the Columbia River Gorge and features rides and seminars.



Disclaimer:  All information is provided as a service to motorcycle riders, and the opinions expressed here are subjective. Although we have tried to research this information thoroughly, it is possible that changing circumstances can cause this information to become inaccurate. In addition, the conditions and roads described can change without notice for a number of reasons, including closings, weather conditions and maintenance. Motorcycle events such as rallies and rides may also be cancelled or dates changed without notice, as well. This site is not responsible for these types of circumstances, which are beyond our control, and riders relying on this information will be doing so at their own risk. This site is not liable for any actions a rider takes based on the information provided here.  Please consult other sources before heading out on these roads and do not use the directions given here as a map, as again, circumstances may have affected their accuracy.

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Bucket list ride

Comment: Hwy 20 / North Cascades is one of my all time favourite rides.

Tracy Bader

Brooks Alberta