Illinois, the “Land Of Lincoln”, is a state with rich culture, great historical sight-seeing, and a landscape that allows for some prime motorcycle rides. During the summer, there’s nothing like getting away from the city and riding the back roads in the Prairie State, known for its tall prairie grasses and farmlands.
The good news is that summer, June-July-August, typically brings the best Illinois weather for riding which should give you options. With that in mind, we figured we’d highlight some backroads motorcycle rides in Illinois and let you decide when the right time is to traverse them. Our recommendation is as soon as possible, because they’re all a blast.
Six Best Motorcycle Rides in Illinois
Knowing that you’re about to hit the road for a bit of adventure is one of the best feelings a motorcycle enthusiast can have. We’re going to give you a sneak peek of what will help get those endorphins kickin’:
This stretch of beautiful Midwestern serenity traverses along a portion of the Rock River, a tributary of the Mississippi in Wisconsin and Illinois, and is a perfect blend of small-town feel and historical landscape. Coming into Illinois north of Rockford, the Rock River runs southwest, so take Route 2 South of Rockford, and travel through farmland with some well-paved roads and sweeping turns. This ride is ideal for stops along the way in small communities to grab some great food at one of the local restaurants, breweries, or cheese shops.
A smooth sprint with excellent sweeping corners, this northern road (aptly) goes from Elizabeth (near popular Galena, IL) to Scales Mound just off the Highway 20. The scenery is quintessential Midwestern farmland, the kind that makes you pause for a moment and contemplate constantly adventuring around the Midwest during summer. For your sake, we hope you are. This is a road that can get a little dicey if it’s wet, so make sure to check the weather before heading out.
This run from Carbondale in southern Illinois and back is a perfect day-trip loop with plenty of sightseeing, snacking, and intense riding opportunities. The diversity in landscape is a welcome surprise out in the typically flatter country – you can get bluffs, waterfalls, lakes, and caves out in the Illinois Ozarks. Make sure to get a rest stop on your way in or out to get some grub at the Longhorn café or Wildfires, or bring a picnic to have in the verdant forest setting. Regardless of what you choose, savor this ride, as it is a true Illinois classic.
If you like challenging technical rides and a road dotted with twisty turns, this 20 mile jog is going to be your Illinois motorcycle road of choice. While it isn’t conducive to high speeds because of the low speed limits and frequent turns, it can be cruised at what we could call an ‘enthusiastic’ pace if you are an experienced rider. Starting in Alton (just above St. Louis), take the IL 100 north through Pere Marquette State Park, and from there you can head past the Illinois River and end up in Hardin.
If you find yourself near the town of Elizabeth, you certainly can get some great riding in. As it stands, the ride from Mt. Carroll to Elizabeth is one of the most scenic roads in Illinois. Heading north on the 78, you will cut over to the 20 until you reach Elizabeth. Along the way, there will be well-kept, wide roads that can be taken at whatever speed you feel comfortable. The town of Elizabeth itself hosts some very biker-friendly bars and restaurants such as Cajun Jack’s or the Small Town Saloon.
It wouldn’t be an Illinois motorcycle ride list without this 70 mile classic ride from Big Rock to Starved Rock. This ride is a great run anytime in the summer, but certainly as fall approaches, the scenery is amazing when the trees and foliage change color. You can pass through Starved Rock State Park, which is one of the most popular natural attractions in the state. Make sure to wind your way to a pull-off that has a view of the river and you can survey most of the ride behind you and feel a sense of accomplishment.
Illinois has hundreds of back roads that provide great motorcycle riding, and these are just a small sample of our many favorites. We hope that hearing about them will encourage you to get out and enjoy the Midwestern summer while ramping up your riding experience.
Ride Stress-Free with The Law Tigers
At The Law Tigers, our goal is to keep the motorcycle community informed, safe, and protected in the event of a motorcycle accident. That’s because riding is in our blood – our team of legal experts are riders just like you.
If you are looking to go on an Illinois motorcycle adventure (or any riding adventure for that matter), make sure you’ve got the right team by your side. The best step is to sign up for our free rider benefit card today – you’ll be in good hands from there on out.