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Pacific Northwest Profile

Riding Motorcycles in Oregon

High mountains, dry deserts and a plethora of volcanic activity that created a diverse landscape throughout the state, Oregon is a motorcyclists paradise.

One moment you can by wrapping your bike around the young lava beds in the Cascades range, and in a short time you can be working your way into the Painted Hills to the east.

For pavement riders, it would take several weeks of riding to hit every favorite road we have in the state. Our list of 10 suggested rides is just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to this paradise. If you're planning to tour here, the more days you can squeak in the better. If you get lost on the back roads, which is not hard to do, you'll soon begin to think you're in some foreign country.

Dual sport riders are at no loss for ground here either. The roads available range from wide open gravel to two and single track wonders.

With both pavement and gravel roads both initiated by wagon trails all around the state, the wide corners and 5% grades are everywhere.

Are you a fan of covered bridges? Oregonians have worked hard to maintain their covered bridge heritage and you can find more than 60 still standing in the state today. One could hone an entire tour out of visiting these beauties.

Need a little something weird to spice up your visit? Stay at any of the many McMenamins properties, visit the Petersen Rock Garden, check out the Vortex House of Mystery or toss a pair of your boots into one of the many shoe trees found throughout the state. Neener neener neener...

10 Recommended Paved Roads

  1. Klatskine to Vernonia/SR 47 - Ascend to the town of Mist (often misty here) and then wind your way to Vernonia. We like lunch at the Blue House Cafe.
  2. Barlow Trail Road - Need a taste of what it's like to ride a modern day motorcycle on a 1800's wagon trail - now paved? You won't want to miss this spectacle of road engineering. Dual sport riders can pick up the unpaved eastern half on the other side of Mt. Hood.
  3. Cooper Spur Road - Another wagon trail wonder that was once used to take visitors to the Cloud Cap Inn.
  4. Rowena Curves/US 30 - Her name is Rowena and she surely has the curves. You'll find all the curves between Mosier and The Dalles. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
  5. Lobster Valley Road - This little roller coaster can be found just off of SR 34 near the coast. Like so many roads in Oregon, riding it in one direction is not enough, turn around and ride it the other way too.
  6. McKenzie Pass/SR 242 - Travel across one of the youngest lava flows in the US where trees have not yet gotten around to growing yet. Investigate the lava observatory that has lookout windows to all the big mountains including The Sisters, Black Butte and Mt. Jefferson.
  7. Mitchell to Heppner/SR 207 - This stretch highlights some of the best riding in the John Day region. There's plenty to see in terms of landscape as you wind your way on this low-traffic helix.
  8. Dooley Mountain/SR 245 - A favorite with Hells Canyon Rally riders, you'll soon lose count of the corners as you rise up and then head back down the other side.
  9. Hells Canyon Scenic Highway/FS 39 - While Hell's Canyon ain't got nuthin' on the Grand Canyon, this scenic byway rivals any road Arizona can dish up.
  10. Howard Prairie Loop/SR66, Hyatt Prairie Rd, Dead Indian Memorial Rd - Head out of Ashland and grab this fun ride that takes you up to 6,000 feet and drops you back down again. If you have time include a side trip up old Highway 99 and then to Mt. Ashland.

10 Recommended Dual Sport Rides

  1. Shingle Mill Rd - Carve your route through the state forest heading south toward Jewel. Routes will vary based on timber activities.
  2. Dead Point Road - Rise up out of the west Hood River valley and take in some nice views of the mountain to the south.Multiple terrain variations apply from smooth to rocky. Views of Mt Hood from here are a nice addition.
  3. Cloud Cap/FS 3512 - Take a romp up to the Cooper Spur of Mt. Hood and soak in the north views of St. Helens, Rainier and Adams.
  4. Rhododendrun Ridge/FS 6350 - This scenic ridge line ride will get you to or from Detroit with a number of stunning viewpoints that are aimed at either Mt. Hood or Mt. Adams.
  5. Wolf Rock/FS 15 - Ride your bike in from McKenzie Bridge and get an up close look first hand at Oregon's largest monolith. Look closely and you may spot a few climbers ascending the face.
  6. Agnes to Powers/FS 33 - A nice way to travel the Oregon Coastal Range. The first section is all gravel, while the last half is sweet cambered pavement. For more off-pavement fun, add in the Johnson Mountain Rd.
  7. Newberry Crater East/FS 9710 - Not for the faint of heart, the south end of this road is all two track sand, but the ruts are so deep you probably won't pop out.
  8. John Day/Muddy Creek Road - While the west end features broken pavement strips, it's the section east of the Christian youth camp that will rock your world and give you plenty to sink your tires into.
  9. Windigo Pass/FS 60 - If Crater Lake is on your touring list, use this road to approach it from the north. The view of Diamond Mountains broken top is a nice add-on on the north end.
  10. Steens Mountain Road - Those who need to ride to the highest point a motorcycle can go to in the state will need to ride this loop to do so. An awesome view east to the Alvord Desert awaits your arrival.

NEW! The SR! Guide to Motorcycling Through Western OregonTrip Planning Resources (click/tap for links)

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What you need to know

  • Helmets - Oregon requires everyone to wear a helmet.
  • Insurance - Vehicle and Liability Insurance is required.
  • Endorsement - Riders are required to have a motorcycle or three wheel endorsement. Failing to have one can result in your bike being towed.
  • Training - State provided training is required before testing for an endorsement.
  • The fine for speeding at 100 mph or more is in excess of $1,100 and can also result in your bike being towed and your license being suspended.
  • When pumping gas, you must wait for a station attendant to pass the pump to you. They will almost always want to sell you premium.
  • More details are available from the American Motorcyclist Association website.

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