Riding the Dragon’s Tail


Dragon's Tail North End

Northern end of the dragon's tail.

If you ride a motorcycle chances are you’ve heard of The Dragon’s Tail aka Tail of the Dragon aka Deal’s Gap.  This road (Highway 129) is located on the very western edge of The Smoky Mountain National park, about 2 hours from Gatlinburg, and the views are absolutely GORGEOUS!

The Dragon has 318 turns in 11 miles.  Yep you read that right – 318 turns in 11 miles!  It took us 45 minutes one way when we drove it.

A tranquil ribbon of road. The only thing miss...

A tranquil ribbon of road. The only thing missing is the whine of turbo in second gear, the revs of the engine, and the tires sticking to the road. No squealing, just gripping. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Treacherous and harrowing are words that come to mind when I think about our trip on the Dragon.  He drove south, I drove north.  We drove it on a beautiful sunny day, middle of the day, middle of the week. We were told this is the best time to drive it – and it worked out beautifully for us.  I guess the weekends get very crowded, and you don’t want a crowd when you are trying to maneuver those turns.

Starting point for the Tail of the Dragon. Mos...

At the end of the 11 miles in Deal’s Gap, NC is a motorcyclist’s rest stop, and the only business for miles.  They have gas, food, lodging, souvenirs and The Tree of Shame.  Be extra careful if you encounter any semi-trucks on this stretch of Hwy. 129. 

As a motorcycle enthusiast this destination is not to be missed, but make sure you stop often on your trip down the dragon.  The views are beautiful and you don’t want to rush this experience.  For a taste of the dragon watch this 2008 video from Good Morning America.

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