Ready to ride?
As you enjoy the beautiful colors of the autumn season, there’s no better way to do so than to hop on your Harley-Davidson motorcycle and begin exploring the backroads of Minnesota. With the twists and turns of the roads, the brilliant fall colors and the sound of your motorcycle cruising over fallen leaves, there are few experiences better than this one.
Even though the season is ending soon, there’s still time to get out on your motorcycle to enjoy the season. If you’re looking for a final thrill on your motorcycle to end the current riding season, our team has put together some of the best local adventures to go on.
So, here are the best locations for autumn motorcycle riding in Minnesota!
Otter Trail Scenic Byway
The Otter Trail Scenic Byway features rolling countryside dotted with thousands of lakes and farmland. This 150-mile peaceful trail in Otter Tail County leads you through forests and lakes, as well as local state parks, Maplewood and Glendalough. Riding through this area, you’re also able to visit and climb to the top of Inspiration Peak which provides an amazing view to the entire area. You can also ride right past the historic Phelps Mill which came to life in the late 1800’s as an important flour mill.
This byway was created to display the cultural and historical heritage of Otter Tail County. With the city of Fergus Falls as a perfect pit stop to grab all of your essentials, the Otter Trail Scenic Byway is just one of Minnesota’s many beautiful byways to travel on. It boasts trails, picnic facilities, interpretive signs, and the perfect opportunity for wildlife sighting.
Minnesota River Valley
Beginning on the western-most side of Minnesota at Big Stone Lake and continuing all the way to Belle Plaine, this designated route welcomes you with old fashioned hospitality. Home to many species of birds, its numerous birding spots makes it the perfect location for you to ride and enjoy the wonders of nature.
The byway follows the gently flowing Minnesota River and is filled with countless elm, maple, oak, and cottonwood trees which line the many farmlands and towns along this route. With 300 miles of highways and gravel roads, this byway provides the ultimate historical, cultural, and soothing scenic experience. Expect to drive through the beautiful cities of Granite Falls, Mankato, Belle Plaine, and New Ulm, where you can stop to rest and catch a bite to eat at one of the local restaurants in town.
North Shore Minnesota
One of the most popular destinations in Minnesota no matter what the season is, the North Shore area is located on the northeast corner of Minnesota and features a breathtaking 154-mile shoreline road which extends from Duluth to Canada. During the autumn season, this area is packed with visitors wanting to see the gorgeous fall colors as there are countless trees which make their backdrop against the lake.
During this motorcycle trip, you will expect to see plenty of pine forests all around you, historic lighthouses, and of course, almost constant viewing of the world's largest freshwater lake. In addition to these extraordinary views, you may also be lucky enough to see bald eagles flying above, deer in nearby open spaces, and more! All of these wonderful views make this the perfect spot for autumn motorcycle riding.
On your ride, make sure to stop and experience the area’s most famous locations such as Palisade Head, Duluth’s Lake Superior Harbor, Castle Danger Brewery, Split Rock Lighthouse, and Gooseberry Falls. Make sure you bring a camera along with you because you are in for one of the most breathtaking rides of your life!
St. Croix Scenic Byway
If you are looking for an adventure on the eastern side of Minnesota, this is the route for you. Established in the mid-1800’s between Askov and the greater Hastings area, the 124-mile byway snakes through 3 Minnesota counties: Washington, Chisago, and Pine.
The route boasts of various pit stops along the way and has attractions for everyone. While in Stillwater, make sure to visit the historic downtown area for a bite to eat and then make your way over to the shores of the St. Croix River. Taylors Falls is also a wonderful area to hike around and view the river rushing through a beautiful canyon area. Finally, for a quick snack in Hinckley, make sure to visit Tobies Restaurant & Bakery for one of the best caramel rolls you’ll ever have.
During your motorcycle ride along the St. Croix Scenic Byway, you’ll experience the most captivating rural view; from the beautiful landscape to farmhouses and charming towns. It also has some of the most unique cliffs and rock formations in Minnesota as it separates Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Important Motorcycle Riding Tips
While you can’t resist getting out on your motorcycle for one last ride of the year, it’s important to remember that safety is your number one priority. Motorcycling in autumn brings its own unique set of challenges, and there are a few helpful tips you need to know in order to have a pleasant ride.
Check The Forecast: make sure you are aware of how the weather is going to turn out. It is inadvisable to head out without ensuring that it is safe to do so. Check forecasts and listen to news concerning any locations you decide to ride.
Dress For The Weather: During your fall-time motorcycle ride, you don’t want to get too hot or too cold. It may seem obvious, but as you increase your speed on your motorcycle, the more the wind will affect your temperature. To ensure your warmth, wear the appropriate clothing for the given weather. If it’s fairly chilly, make sure to wear your leather jacket, or another windproof jacket, along with additional layers underneath. On warmer days, make sure you wear something light and breathable as it allows you to have full range of motion and avoid any discomfort while riding.
Beware Of Roadway Danger: When riding on byways, you should expect to see many animals such as deer, raccoons, and other wildlife. These animals can seemingly come out of nowhere and run across the road, so enjoy your ride, but always be on the lookout for them. Also, fall-time can bring its own unique set of dangers as leaves fall and can oftentimes be slippery after a recent rainfall. To protect yourself from slipping on these road hazards, try to avoid these areas and be sure to check your tires before setting out and make sure they have enough traction in case you encounter wet roads.
Go Out And Ride Minnesota Roads!
Now that you know which Minnesota roads to bring your Harley-Davidson motorcycle on to see the beautiful autumn scenery, it’s time to get ready! If you’re needing to be outfitted with cold-weather motorcycle gear, or possibly a new motorcycle, make sure that you visit the Zylstra Harley-Davidson Showroom in Elk River! Here, you can purchase the appropriate motorcycle gear, service your bike, or purchase a new one. Contact us today to learn more about our fall motorcycle riding essentials!