Big Sur Highway
Starting point: Cambria, Calif.
Distance: 251 miles
Challenge factor: Low (a leisurely ride, but keep an eye out for gawking tourists)
Highlights: The Big Sur coast, Carmel Valley and the Monterey Peninsula. This is the quintessential scenic California ride, and perhaps some of the best motorcycling in the world. If you haven't seen Hearst Castle (800-444-4445), stop for the tour.
Starting point: Charlestown, R.I.
Distance: 174 miles
Challenge factor: Low (a fairly flat and easy ride along scenic coastline)
Highlights: Pristine beaches, New England fishing villages, historic homes and museums. Check out the Newport Mansions, and stop at the Coast Guard Restaurant in Narragansett for a killer view from the observation deck.
Galveston to Rockport
Starting point: Galveston, Texas
Distance: 221 miles
Challenge factor: Low (but use caution riding on the beach)
Highlights: The scenic south Texas coast and a beautiful wildlife preserve. (Remember to wash your bike thoroughly if you ride on the beach. Salt will pit your chrome.) Keep an eye out for deer, bobcats and even alligators at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge Complex near the town of Austwell.
Starting point: Blowing Rock, N.C.
Distance: 120 miles
Challenge factor: Medium (beware of sudden dips and steep uphill turns)
Highlights: Grandfather Mountain and the Blue Ridge Parkway. While visiting Grandfather Mountain be sure to walk across the famous Mile High Swinging Bridge for breathtaking views. Drop by the General Store in Todd for a trip back in time and a delicious, old-fashioned fried-bologna sandwich.
Rocky Mountain High Loop
Starting point: Golden, Colo.
Distance: 184 miles
Challenge factor: Medium (be careful on tight curves and hairpins)
Highlights: The finest views in Rocky Mountain National Park. It takes three to four hours to cover the awesome "Roof of the Rockies" at 12,183 feet above sea level — where you can see snow even in summer.
Starting point: Furnace Creek Ranch, Death Valley, Calif.
Distance: 127 miles
Challenge factor: Difficult (for experienced riders only; includes 35 miles of dirt roads)
Highlights: The part of the loop that takes in Badwater (270 feet below sea level), Zabriskie Point and Mosaic Canyon. The panorama from Dante’s View is mind-blowing. Meet up with other riders at Death Valley Junction and take in the show at the Amargosa Opera House.
Starting point: Gettysburg, Pa.
Distance: 191 miles
Challenge factor: Low (easy terrain, but watch out for Amish carriages)
Highlights: Covered bridges, the Appalachian Trail and the East Broad Top Railroad tour. Excellent for a fall-foliage run in early October. Don't miss the covered bridge on Couchtown Road (SR 3008) near Centre.
*All distances from starting point and back. Rides are mapped out in detail in the American Motorcyclist Association's Ride Guide to America, edited by Greg Harrison.