Motorcycles in Haywood County, North Carolina

Active & Adventurous - Motorcycle Mania

Made for Motorcycles

North Carolina mountainsIf Benjamin Franklin had been born a couple of centuries later, he would not only have said, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy,” he would have added, “Mountains are proof that God love us and wants us to ride motorcycles.”

Motorcycle riders thrive on the twists and turns and roadside views that mountains provide. Forty-six miles of the 75-year-old Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP), a motorcyclist favorite, wind along the southern edge of Haywood County, North Carolina. The highest point on the BRP—6,053 feet—is in Haywood County. In fact, here lies one of the world's most renowned motorcycle and sports car roads, the Tail of the Dragon: 318 curves in just 11 miles.

After I checked out from Boyd Mountain Cabins, I met several old friends for a gathering of Yamaha FJR riders at the Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground, conveniently located just a few miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

Blue Ridge Motorcycle Campground When you first turn off of the road and pull up to the entrance of the campground, you know you are entering another world: a sign saying “Motorcycles only past this point” is set beside the wooden bridge leading to the campground over the rushing mountain stream. It's a peaceful world, populated by men and women who are resting, visiting, and laughing, preparing for their next venture out to the twists and turns of the mountain roads. They are men and women who have one thing in common, and sometimes only one thing, but it's the only thing that matters, at least there in the mountains.

 

Blue Ridge Motorcycle CampgroundLocated at 3,100 feet above sea level, the campground boasts an average August low to high temperatures between 59 and 81. They have 18 heated, furnished cabins (bed and shelf space) and plenty of grassy space to pitch a tent. The campground also includes bath and shower facilities for men and for women, a small camp store, covered pavilion and firepit, and lounge area with TV.

Recognizing the lure of the mountains, many local businesses welcome riders with open arms, even including the B&B's. The innkeepers of Andon Reid Inn say, “We welcome all motorcyclists to experience the magnificent ride through the mountains of western North Carolina…. We are a motorcycle-friendly bed and breakfast with a garage for you to park and protect your motorcycle.” And all motorcyclists know how important that is!

Wheelsthrutime37Besides the excellent roads and view, Haywood County has another draw that is especially appreciated by motorcyclists: the Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley, 40,000-square feet of vintage American motorcycles, over 250 bikes, and a few antique cars. All of the motorcycles are in running condition—and most are actually ridden regularly.

The museum is owned and operated by Dale Walksler, who has been collecting for 43 years, and by his son, Matt. Both are active in running the museum, available and eager to answer visitors' questions. Watching the two of them talk about motorcycles is like asking about a Transporter device at a Star Trek convention: you'll get your questioned answered thoroughly and enthusiastically.

Wheelsthrutime12The museum is about more than just motorcycles. It's like a slice of Americana. The bikes are gathered by themes, each exhibit telling tales of the time, the riders, the people, and the bikes. Special exhibits include the Blue Ridge Parkway 75th Anniversary, Motor Cops, and The Girls: Women in Motorcycling. The ongoing collection includes military bikes (left), board track racers, dirt bikes, an old motorcycle repair shop, and, of course, plenty of Harleys (two pictured below right). The museum even has creations made with a motorcycle motor, like a 1927 airplane handmade with a Harley engine and a motor toboggan.

Dale populates the museum carefully. Each new motorcycle he purchases must have a great story, like the one used for sound in a George Clooney movie, and it must be a rare, one-of-a-kind motorcycle, like the world's oldest Indian (1903), or the motorcycle that was tailored to be driven from the sidecar. Then there's the 1917 Henderson, which Dale is planning on driving across the country this fall in the Cannonball Run, for bikes that are 95 years or older, from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

WheelsThruTimeHarleysThe most interesting one-of-a-kind has a great story, too—a mystery, in fact: who made this motorcycle, how, and why? The motorcycle had features that were ahead of its time, and could have revolutionized the industry, but it was never shared. Instead, a homeowner found the machine bricked up behind a wall in his house when he remodeled. There were no papers, and no records have been found definitively identifying the creator or his creation, named "Traub" after the inscription on its tank (see photo above right and video below). Many have delved into the mystery, but none have solved it.

                 

WheelsThruTimeTheGirlsMany more adventures await visitors to Haywood County. I know that next time I come back I'll add the Nantahala Gorge Canopy Zip Line Tours and Cradle of Forestry Museum to my must-see list. I may venture over to Asheville, the Biltmore, Smoky Mountains National Park, Chimney Rock Park, the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, or to some of the many area festivals.

And I know I'll be back. Mountains, nature, breathtaking views, fresh air, clean water; so much to do outside, and then—after a long day, great places to eat, renew and refresh. What's not to love?

Explore more of what awaits you in Haywood County throughout the year at their web site.

 

Read about my four-wheel and two-foot travels in Haywood County, NC here.

Writer Annie Tobey driven by Dale Walksler at Wheels Through Time

 

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V, SUMMER 2010

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The first part of AWT's visit was hosted by the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority.

We refrain from all but the most gentle criticism that readers should know, preferring to practice the Thumper's Father's Principle (“If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.”), but report honestly on the best parts of the trip.

 
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