Motorcycle Trip Route Planning

Almost a year ago, I decided to ride my motorcycle across the United States and Canada. I had a few destinations in mind, to visit family and friends. But, for most of the route, I didn’t have a clue. So, about 4 months ago I started researching how to plan a motorcycle trip. If you haven’t read my article on Long Distance Motorcycle riding and Trip Planning, you may want to start there. It provides basic information on getting you and your motorcycle ready for a long trip. In this article, I’ll get into more detail on route planning itself.

Before I get into details, it may be helpful to understand the process I followed in planning the route for my motorcycle trip. I started with a variety of scenic ride and scenic drive books looking for places to go. Most of the scenic rides described in these books were usually a few hundred miles long. It became apparent that I would need to string together many of these scenic rides to create one large ride across the United States and Canada. It also became apparent that I wouldn’t be able to cover all of the United States and Canada in the six weeks I’d alloted to my motorcycle ride. I needed to narrow down the regions of North America I would cover. I would ride north from California to British Columbia, then across to the east coast of Canada, then south to somewhere around New York City or Philadelphia, then head back west to California. Since I will be riding in July and August, I will avoid the southern half of the United States in hope for cooler weather.

My next step was figuring out what software I’d use plan my route. I explored some online trip planning software, but didn’t find anything that met my needs. Many lacked the ability to plan enough way points to cover a route this long. In general, I also found using online route planning tools rather slow. I decided that it would be much faster to use software loaded on my computer. I research a few programs and decided to download a trial version of Microsoft Streets & Trips. It seemed to meet my needs, so Microsoft go my $39 investment and I purchased the software.

Having now purchased several scenic ride and drive books, and trip planning software, I was ready to get into detailed route planning. Fortunately, I started this process several months before my ride, because it has taken that long to finalize the route plan. MST will automatically generate a trip route for you, but the path is based on shortest distance or fastest route. That means MST will usually pick interstate highways for the trip. Not the most scenic.

I started entering the many scenic routes I’d found from books into Microsoft Streets & Trips (MST). This placed dozens of route segments onto a United States and Canada map. This in itself was rather time consuming. You need to place way points along the specific roads you want to take in order to force MST to use the route. However, that’s the only way to force a specific route to be used by the software. In all, I have about 100 way points mapping out these scenic routes.

In the end, Microsoft Streets & Trips generated detailed strip maps covering my route. I will take this with me on my trip. Even now, friends are still suggesting alternate routes. So, I’m going to take my laptop on my trip so I can modify the route as I go.

Now that I’ve covered my methodology for route planning, in the next two parts of this article I’ll discuss specific books I used for finding scenic routes, and the Microsoft Streets & Trips software I used for detailed route planning.

Related Posts

Finding Scenic Motorcycle Routes

Long Distance Motorcycle Riding


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