Best Motorcycle Ride

Great River Road

It's not exactly the Yellow Brick Road, but the Great River Road alongside the Mississippi River is as close to Oz as you can come on a motorcycle in these parts: winding turns, beautiful scenery, minimal traffic and lots of down-home taverns in tiny towns that dot the route north of St. Louis. Start early to beat the afternoon sun and take Interstate 70 past St. Peters to Highway 79, where the fun begins. Head north on Highway 79 -- the route is well marked by Great River Road signs -- all the way to Hannibal, allowing enough time to take in the views from several roadside rest stops perched on bluffs along the river. It's two-lane, and, if you're in the mood for mischief, there are plenty of straightaways that make for killer wrist-twisting. Hannibal, about 100 miles into this journey, is a good place to stop for lunch. Head west from the river into downtown, though, unless touristy bars and restaurants are your thing. Now that you've eaten, it's probably getting a little warm. No problem. Cross the river into Illinois, take off that helmet and head south on Highway 96, which is also marked by Great River Road signs. Again, the scenery is spectacular and traffic virtually nonexistent. Follow the river-road signs to Alton, where you can find your own way home. A few cautionary words: It can get mighty buggy, especially around sunset, so a windshield is recommended. And try to be home by dark -- deer and otters have a habit of crossing the road when you least expect it.
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