Motorcycle Road Trips - Best and Worse States Ranked

Motorcycle enthusiasts across North America look to the summer months to blow the mental cobwebs from the mind and dust off their favorite two-wheeled ride.

If planned well, a motorcycle road-trip can not only be the most enjoyable vacation but the most affordable. Clutch and Chrome gives a variety of hints and tips in our article ‘How to plan a road trip’ as well as some great stuff found here and here.

A new study from the personal finance website Wallethub helps riders make that final, all-important pick of a destination. Their study found that for financially conscious travelers, while the budget may help make the call, the decision doesn’t have to mean less enjoyment.

During warmer months, traveling and gas prices tend to climb and peak in August. But that hasn’t deterred Americans from taking their road trips. In 2014, domestic and international travelers collectively spent $644.9 billion on leisure travel. And they’re at it again this year: About 85 percent of Americans, up 13 percent since 2014 are planning a summer vacation.

Nearly 90 percent of them will be on the road.

“Since we began to move out of the 2007-2009 recession, travel has been on the increase,” notes Joseph T. O’Leary, professor in the Human Dimensions of Natural Department at Colorado University.

“With lower gas prices it is likely that road tripping will be a key and growing part of the public’s travel portfolio,” O’Leary says.

An Overview of the Study's Findings

As frugal travelers plan their summer trips, WalletHub compared the 50 U.S. states across 20 key metrics to find the most fun, scenic and wallet-friendly road-trip destinations, and the ones that’ll have them busting a U-turn. In each state, WalletHub examined the attractions, road conditions, costs and even weather.

To find the most road trip-friendly destinations in the U.S., WalletHub compared the 50 states across three equally weighted dimensions, including: 1) Driving and Lodging Costs, 2) Road Conditions and Safety and finally 3) Fun and Scenic Attractions.

According to Wallethub, data used to create these rankings were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Park Service, the Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety, the National Conference of State Legislatures, AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report, the American Scenic Byways, CarMD,,, Tripadvisor, BetterBridges, TRIP, and WalletHub research.

Oregon scored the number one spot with great roads and an even better ranking for fun and scenic attractions. However, the state is ranked fairly low for driving and lodging costs which according to the metrics, are arrived from the average gas prices (in this case higher), toll costs, vehicle repairs and finally a stab at every biker’s wallet, higher costs for camping.

The number two position, Nevada, does well in driving and lodging as well as fun and scenic attractions, which is a real surprise we know. But riders should note, the quality of road conditions, highway fatalities, vehicle thefts and violent crime places Nevada square in the middle of pack for this all important category of Road conditions and safety.


North Dakota and Connecticut fall in the last two places on the combined chart with all three categories obviously weighing down the two distinctly different states.

The study seems thoughtfully compiled with all the metrics carrying some degree of concern for anyone considering a road trip as their vacation. The study was just released and it’s already attracted comments disputing some of its findings. But this can easily be state pride or personal preference coming from the freedom of internet comment sections. After all, one man’s vacation is another man’s torture.

But one result certainly leapt out at the staff of Clutch and Chrome, causing us to stop and scratch our helmet-haired heads. South Dakota, home of the world famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is ranked 46th out of 50 states. Falling in the middle of the pack for Driving and Lodging costs, lower for Road Conditions and even lower in the category of Fun and Scenic attractions.

Understanding South Dakota is probably a state best loved by bikers looking for solitude and beauty on their road trips mostly explains that finding away. We wonder if the very event that drives many to get in the saddle is in fact the reason for higher lodging costs and more severe road conditions and highway casualties.


Regardless, the study gives a great overview of many factors that need to be considered when planning that perfect road trip and even comes with some great advice from the experts.

Per Garder, Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at University of Maines considers the number one threat faced by summer road trip travelers the possibility of being involved in and accident.

“Even if minor,” Garder notes, “It can be time consuming and expensive.”

Downloading the Gas Buddy app on your smartphone is a great way to find cheap gas according to Garder. Using internet or coupons to find low-cost but high quality hotels may help with a state you have your riding eye on but find it's ranked as expensive in the study.

Heres the study in its entirety

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