Motorcycle Rides

Best Motorcycle Roads and Destinations in Illinois, United States

Best Motorcycle Roads and Destinations in Illinois, United States

Table of Contents

Best Motorcycle Roads and Destinations in Illinois, United States

1. Introduction

Are you interested in a motorcycle trip through the United States? If you have not yet visited this state, you should take your motorcycle with you on an excursion to Illinois or “the Land of Lincoln.” This Midwestern region is renowned for its mix of rolling hills, flat plains, and rich farmlands; this landscape makes it ideal to construct twisting, rising, and falling roads suited for motorcycles.

While you may find enjoyment navigating the miles of open road carving through Illinois, other highlights of your journey may be the cultural attractions, the natural sites, and places of historical significance.

This article will give you a preview of Illinois’s prominent motorcycle roads and destinations along with supplementary information on this state’s motorcycle laws and possible luggage options.

2. Roads and Destinations in Illinois

2.1 Rock River Run

Distance: 42 miles
Time: 58 minutes
Start: Rockford
End: Dixon

As you closely follow alongside the Rock River, you start out in Rockford. While you are there, you can visit the serene Anderson Japanese Gardens and check out the dinosaur skeletons at the Burpee Museum of Natural History.

Heading down the twisting two-laned highway, you may want to stop in Byron if you wish to get a souvenir at Krusty Rusty Relics. If you are starting to get hungry, you can grab a quick meal at The Cheese Shop in Conover Square in the town of Oregon.

As you travel the last leg of this route, you will pass by Lowden-Miller Park and Castle Rock State Park. Upon making it to Dixon, you may get a nice view of the Rock River at the Dixon Riverfront Plaza. You may also go and visit the Lincoln Monument and Ronald Reagan’s Boyhood Home if you have an interest in the U.S. Presidents.

2.2 The Oswego To Starved Rock Run

Distance: 47 miles
Time: 1 hour 3 minutes
Start: Oswego
End: Starved Rock State Park

As you travel parallel to the Fox and Illinois Rivers, check out attractions specific to Oswego such as the Oswego Railroad Museum, Oswego Speedway, and H. Lee White Marine Museum.

Continuing on your way, you should make it to Ottawa. You can get an introduction of the region at the Illinois Waterway Visitors Center or learn about its history at the Ottawa Historical and Scouting Heritage Museum.

From Oswego to Ottawa, most of the road would have been relatively flat and allowing a smooth trip so far. As you begin to approach Starved Rock State Park, there will be twists that can catch you by surprise if you are not careful.

2.3 Blackjack Road

Distance: 30 miles
Time: 40 minutes
Start: Galena
End: Savanna

As you travel close to the Mississippi River, you start out in Galena. You can stop by Ulysses S, Grant’s Home if you wish to explore the abode of the former Union general turned U.S. President. You can also enjoy the natural scenery at the Thunder Bay Falls and Grant Park.

Most of your travels will take you over rolling hills and have plenty of bending turns that are reminiscent of “the Dragon” in Tennessee. Because the twists have blindspots, you should be mindful to slow down so as to avoid colliding into any local wildlife.

Upon your arrival in Savanna, you will pass by the Mississippi Palisades State Park on your left-hand side. Within the town itself, you can visit the Savanna Train Car Museum. If you wish to browse a shop, you should look around Frank Fritz’s Finds.

2.4 Illinois Great River Road

Distance: 37 miles
Time: 45 minutes
Start: Alton
End: Hardin

As you wind around the Mississippi River, you will be traveling on the scenic route as you head out of Alton. But before you go, you could take pictures of the World’s Tallest Man Statue. If you are looking to have some fun in the evening, check out the Argosy Casino or the Alton Belle Casino.

Your ride should be a leisurely one as the road remains relatively flat with plenty of sweeping curves that are easy to cruise. Much of your surroundings will include bluffs, caves, farmlands, and wetlands.

Before you reach Hardin, you can admire the natural beauty of Pere Marquette State Park as you pass by. If you are open to riding a different kind of transportation, you can sit atop of a horse at the Pere Marquette Riding Stables.

2.5 Wilmington-Kankakee River Loop

Distance: 44 miles
Time: 1 hour 4 minutes
Start: Braidwood
End: Wilmington

Going the long way around the Kankakee River, you will leave behind Braidwood. You can have a quick lunch at the Top Fuel Saloon before you embark. Heading down Highway 113, you will travel on curving roads that go over rolling hills with dense forests on either side of you.

When you arrive in Kankakee, you can get to know the history of this city by visiting the Kankakee Railroad and the Kankakee County Museums. If you wish to find a nice spot to look over the riverfront, you can find a spot at Haigh Quarry.

As you begin to loop back around, you will finish turning the corner at Bradley. Within its vicinity is the Perry Farm Park which can traverse on foot if you like. As you get close to Wilmington, you will pass through the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. You will know you have arrived in Wilmington when you see the spaceman statue known as the Gemini Giant.

2.6 River Loop from Peru to Peoria

Distance: 123 miles
Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Start: Peru
End: Peru

During the time you are in Peru, you can take a gander around Baker Lake Park which resides in the heart of the city. If you wish to browse for supplies or souvenirs, you may find what you are looking for at the Peru Antique Mall or the Westclox Museum.

While you primarily follow the Illinois River, this loop will take you beside many bodies of water including Goose, Senachwine, and Peoria Lakes. The route you travel on has plenty of gentle curves that both go over or around the rolling hills and floodplains that dot the landscape.

Within proximity of Peoria, you can spend time at the Peoria Zoo if you want to get a glimpse at unique animals. Or if you have preference for greenery, you might find plants not native to Illinois at the Luthy Botanical Garden.

2.7 Starved Rock Run on Route 71

Distance: 13 miles
Time: 20 minutes
Start: North Utica
End: Ottawa

Before you cross the Utica Bridge to get across the Illinois River, you should spend a little time to see North Utica. If you want to get to know the local history, you can spend time at the LaSalle County Historical Society & Museum. You can also stop by the Rock and Soul to see a beautiful collection of geodes and crystals.

As you travel along Highway 71, you will eventually pass by both Starved Rock State Park and Nature Preserve. There is no shortage of activities you can engage in this area including hiking, camping, horseback riding, and fishing.

Most of your surroundings will include dense forests and deep ravines which the twisty yet well-paved two-laned road will navigate through. It is highly recommended you visit during the fall so you can be surrounded by the colorful foliage.

2.8 Southern Illinois Circuit 1

Distance: 160 miles
Time: 3 hours 8 minutes
Start: Marion
End: Marion

As you travel through the southern region of Illinois, you begin your journey at Marion. You can check out relics of the past at the Williamson County Historical Museum & Library. You can also admire the greenery at the Mandala Gardens.

As you head east towards Harrisburg, you may want to stop at the Garden of the Gods. This natural site is famous for its many rock formations and wilderness trails. As you head south to the next corner at Golconda, you can explore the Rim Rock Recreational Area and Dixon Springs State Park.

Turning to the west, you will eventually come across Vienna. One of its notable landmarks is the Cherrybark Oak. You can admire the natural scenery of the Heron Pond-Little Black Slough Nature Preserve.

Reaching the final corner before your return trip, your last major stop will be Anna. If you wish to sample some drinks, you can find them at the Lincoln Heritage Winery and Owl Creek Vineyard.

2.9 Elizabeth Scales Mound Road

Distance: 14 miles
Time: 18 minutes
Start: Elizabeth
End: Scales Mound

Before you take off northward, you may want to ride around to check out nearby sites of historical significance such as the Apple River Fort and the Chicago Great Western Railway Depot Museum. You can also sample the local produce at the Dittmar Farms & Orchards and the Terrapin Orchards.

As you head to Scales Mound or the highest point in Illinois, the pavement should be smoothed while curving around rolling hills and farms. Climbing up the mountain, you will definitely notice the sudden change in elevation along with the sweeping corners as you navigate the road.

2.10 The Murphysboro To Anna To Carbondale Loop

Distance: 50 miles
Time: 1 hour 7 minutes
Start: Murphysboro
End: Carbondale

If you decide to stick around Murphysboro, you can get food and drink at the Big Muddy Brewing or Molly’s Pint Brewpub to give you energy before getting on your motorcycle. You can wander around Lake Murphysboro State Park if you need to stretch your legs. If the season is right, you may be able to check out the Murphysboro Apple Festival.

You will head all the way down to Anna as you begin to loop the long way around Cedar Lake. During your journey, you will pass by the Trail of Tears State Forest, Brown Barrens Nature Preserve, and McClure Shale Glade Nature Preserve.

As you head north all the way up to Carbondale, you may catch sight of the blue, three-headed dragon statue on top of the Boo Rochman Memorial Park. You can also check out the natural scenery at the Marberry Arboretum.

2.11 Summer On The Rivers

Distance: 218 miles
Time: 4 hours 52 minutes
Start: Schaumburg
End: Schaumburg

Before you enter the loop, you start out in Schaumburg which is relatively closer to Lake Michigan. You can go by the Chicago Athenaeum International Sculpture Park to check out the marble statue buried in the hill or other marvelous pieces. You can also swing by Spring Valley to check out the swans swimming in the lakes filled with greenery.

As you pass by Stillman Valley, you will come across the monument known as Stillman’s Defeat which marks the spot of an important battle during the Black Hawk War. If you decide to stop in South Beloit, you can stop by Angela’s Attic if you want to take a look at antiques.

Because you pass through many towns along this route, the speed you travel will vary depending on whether you are transitioning from an open highway to a small community. Much of your surroundings will be quaint farm country and pastures occasionally broken up by the homely buildings making up the towns.

2.12 Thomson Loop

Distance: 69 miles
Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Start: Sterling
End: Sterling

If you would like to ride around Sterling, you can start by checking out the former wealthy housing at the Dillon Home Museum. If you need some time off of your motorcycle, walk on the Martin’s Landing & Sinnissippi Dam Walkway or admire the peaceful environment of Sinnissippi Park.

This trip will take you over smooth, paved roads through the rural territory in Illinois. The paths should pass by small farms and go over gentle rolling hills. As you draw closer to Thomson, you will notice the scenic vistas will give you better views of the natural scenery.

As you draw closer to Thomson, you may find a relaxing spot close to the Mississippi River known as the Thomson Causeway Recreation Area. If you want to get a closer look of the environment, you can head further until you find a trail that leads into the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge.

3. Motorcycle Laws in Illinois

Motorcycle Laws in Illinois

3.1 Illinois Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Since Illinois does not have defined motorcycle helmet laws, no motorcyclists are required to wear protective headgear when operating their vehicles. However, the lack of an age restriction has resulted in rising motorcycle fatalities in recent years within the state of Illinois. Even if you have grievances about wearing a motorcycle helmet, it is recommended you have one on to prevent severe or fatal injuries to your head and neck.

Should you decide to get an approved motorcycle helmet, look for either a three-quarter or a full-face helmet. Both of these models are manufactured by the Snell Memorial Foundation and are designed to meet the safety standards of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Make sure that they have the following features listed below:

  • Has a Department of Transportation (DOT) sticker
  • Can be fitted around your head snugly
  • No visible signs of damage
  • Has a face shield with no scratches (Full-face helmet only)
  • Requires separate eye protection with no scratches (Three-quarter helmet only)
  • Has a hard and durable outer shell that is shatter-resistant
  • Gives you a clear, peripheral view
  • Can be fastened with a neck- or chin-strap
  • Allows airflow without fogging up
  • Can allow you to wear sunglasses or goggles underneath

3.2 Illinois Motorcycle Passenger Laws

In Illinois, it is only legal to carry a motorcycle passenger if your vehicle is outfitted with equipment specifically designed to transport an additional person. To secure your motorcycle passenger, your motorcycle must have a designated passenger seat and adjustable footrests. The passenger seat can either be positioned at the back of a large enough driver’s seat, towards the rear as a separate saddle, or fixed to the side as a sidecar.

There is no minimum age requirement for motorcycle passengers nor is it mandatory that they wear protective headgear. You should still be discerning when deciding who can ride on your motorcycle. A person that can be safely seated is one who can reach the adjustable footrests, comprehend your instructions, and mimic your movements.

3.3 Illinois Motorcycle Safety Features

If you cannot immediately detect that there is a problem with your motorcycle, you tend to leave it alone when it is not in use. However, rather than wait until something breaks on your vehicle, preemptively examine the conditions of the primary components. Slowly scanning may yield results as you may find dents, scratches, or punctures in the machinery, wires, and tires. Making sure to periodically provide maintenance for your motorcycle will help keep it in top form.

Listed below are the safety features your motorcycle must have to be street legal in Illinois:

  • Horn
  • Wheels
  • Tires
  • Handlebars
  • Front and back brakes
  • Controls
  • Headlight
  • License plate light
  • Taillight
  • Stoplight
  • Reflector
  • Exhaust system
  • Muffler
  • Rearview mirrors
  • Windshield

3.4 Illinois Lane Splitting Laws

Motorcyclists passing through Illinois are forbidden from practicing lane splitting. Therefore, you cannot ride on top of the dividing lines in between traffic lanes. Even if adjacent rows of vehicles are stopped, you are not allowed to ride in between them. It is also illegal to try and overtake a larger vehicle in front of you while both of you are traveling in the same lane.

However, motorcyclists are entitled to utilize the full space within the lane they are currently traveling in. Only two motorcyclists can share a lane at a time so long as they keep a distance of two abreast and both riders consent beforehand.

4. Motorcycle Luggage for Illinois Motorcycle Tour

Motorcycle Luggage for Illinois Motorcycle Tour

Most of your Illinois motorcycle trip will be spent operating your motorcycle and cruising down the highways. But on the occasions, you spend time with your feet on the ground, you may need access to your belongings. These can range from your phone, wallet, change of clothes, provisions, water container, and repair tools. However, you can easily lose your belongings if they are not secured properly while you move at high speeds. Luckily, there are forms of storage suited to different kinds of motorcycle models.

Listed below are examples of motorcycle luggage that can be easily installed, have enough storage space, and are made of weather-resistant materials. As they function more or less the same, you should pick the version with the size, color, and design that suits your tastes:

5. Parting Words

An Illinois motorcycle trip can make for an enjoyable time spent riding your favorite two-wheeled vehicle if you approach the journey ahead of you with an open mind.

While conducting research can be dull, taking the time to map out your intended route will help you to recognize landmarks and know when you are getting close to your intended destinations. Plus, memorizing Illinois’s motorcycle laws will ensure you wear the appropriate motorcycle gear, tune up your ride, and follow the rules of the road specific to this state.

As you arrange your belongings into your motorcycle luggage, make sure that the total weight capacity does not interfere with the performance of your motorcycle. Look over the checklist several times to make sure that you have everything you need. While you can bring commodities if it suits you, make sure you have the essentials needed in case of an emergency.

Many of the attractions and locations mentioned in this article are simply suggestions for how you can spend your time during your Illinois motorcycle trip. There is nothing to stop you from taking detours to other sites that pique your interests. You may stumble across a place of interest purely by accident if you happen to be keeping an eye out.

Just remember to keep all of these in mind and your extended motorcycle tour through Illinois should be a memorable riding experience.

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