8 scenic routes for motorcyclists in Reno-Tahoe area
Watch a time-lapse video of "The Stag" riding his motorcycle up Mt. Rose Summit to Lake Tahoe. Marcella Corona/RGJ
Riding a motorcycle can only be described as freedom, just ask any motorcyclist.
It’s a thrill. It’s a meditation. It’s a way to disconnect from everything else. And riding through scenic places only intensifies that feeling and gives riders a chance to explore the surrounding area in a 360-degree fashion—something you can’t get by just driving in a car.
Street Vibrations hits the streets of Reno again this year for its fall rally, which is scheduled from Sept. 21-25. The five-day event means motorcyclists near and far will rumble through the city.
If you want to branch out and get a taste of the Reno-Tahoe area, then visit these eight scenic places:
Sure, it’s a ways west from Reno and could take a full day of riding, but Plumas County is a treasure trove of secluded and forested roads. Riders can explore parts of Plumas National Forest or drive from Portola, Calif., to Graeagle, Calif., which is about 11 miles in between and nearly 50 miles west of Reno. That’s about a 51 minute ride. The stretch of road on California State Route 70 travels through forested areas and is pretty much a straight shot, perfect for a cruiser-type motorcycle.
Golden Chain Highway, also known as California State Route 49, passes through the Sierra Buttes peak and Sardine Lake. It also offers winding roads and a scenic view of the surrounding forested area.
If you’re feeling really ambitious, Ebbetts Pass travels through forest, mountains and lakes all in one ride. The ride from Reno to Bear Valley, Calif., will probably take a full day and a lot of determination, especially if you make a few stops along the way. It’s a little more than two hours of riding one-way, but cruisers are built for comfort anyway.
Ebbetts Pass becomes more fun to ride through from Markleeville, Calif. to Bear Valley because of the winding road, not to mention the route passes near Lake Alpine.
Kingsbury Grade Road
What’s more fun on a motorcycle then a few twists and turns? Kingsbury Grade Road, from Stateline, Nev. to Mottsville, Nev., offers several curves and a view of rolling hills of sagebrush to the pine tree-covered mountains.
And there’s an added bonus—you ride along the coast of Lake Tahoe. Whether you’re driving from Stateline to Mottsville or vise versa, you still get a glimpse of Lake Tahoe.
The Lake Tahoe loop
But if you want to see more of Lake Tahoe, then ride around it. The Lake Tahoe loop is a popular riding destination because of the different views of the lake and winding roads. The route allows riders to pass through Incline Village, Kings Beach, Tahoe City and South Lake Tahoe. You also can make a few stops at several beaches along the way, such as Sand Harbor or Emerald Bay, or you can admire a view of the lake from various lookout points. The only downside is the traffic during weekends and the crowded tourist beaches, such as Zephyr Cove beach. The whole loop is about a three-hour ride.
Geiger Grade Road
Geiger Grade Road is dangerous but beautiful. The 26-mile route from Reno to Virginia City often sees several motorcycle crashes each year, but if you’re looking for a challenge that requires a little more coordination, then this is a good route for the experienced rider.
The road curves along a cliff side and through desert and mountains, which is why riders should travel with caution and wear the appropriate protective gear. The 40-minute ride ends at the historic mining town of Virginia City. On the way back, you can see all of Reno at a few lookout points along the way. The view is even more stunning during the evening hours when the mountain views open up and reveal a cluster of bright city lights.
The small town of Virginia City is hidden in the mountains and makes for a great rest stop, especially if you want to walk around and explore the bars, shops and historic landmarks. Virginia City also is known for its quirky annual events and is one of many motorcycle hubs during Street Vibrations.
U.S. 50 from Carson City to Lake Tahoe
Here’s another road with lots of curves and views. U.S. 50 stretches about 28 miles from Carson City and Lake Tahoe. The route to Lake Tahoe transitions from bare rolling hills to a forested mountainous area.
Mt. Rose Highway
Most riders know the best routes include secluded, curvy roads with a great view. Mt. Rose Highway, also known as Nevada 431, offers exactly that: twists and turns, forests and mountains. Mt. Rose Highway also pass through the Galena Creek Regional Park and along Mt. Rose Summit to Incline Village.
The 36-mile route from Reno to Incline Village is about an hour ride.
Virginia Street in Reno
OK, so this goes against the criteria for the perfect road to ride through on a motorcycle. Virginia Street is crowded, and it’s a straight route through Reno—which means there’s a lot of stop-and-go traffic. But if you want to get a quick look at Reno, then what better way to tour the city then to ride straight through it? Virginia Street runs north and south and passes through the heart of Midtown and downtown Reno.
If you’re looking for a place to stop, then check out some of the locally-owned shops, restaurants or casinos.
Marcella Corona covers breaking news for the Reno Gazette-Journal. Contact her at 775-788-6340, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @Marcella_Anahi or on Facebook at Facebook.com/Marcella.Anahi