Get ready to hear engines roar. One of the most exciting drives in the country, the Tail of the Dragon is an experienced motorcyclist's dream. This stretch of road on the southern border of the Great Smoky Mountains boasts 318 curves in just 11 miles, and promises fun and excitement for anyone who dares to conquer it.
Where Is The Tail Of The Dragon?
Located in the eastern part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you’ll find the Tail of the Dragon in Deals Gap, North Carolina. Deals Gap is a bit of a hike from Pigeon Forge. To get to the Tail of the Dragon, you’ll have to travel about 55 miles. The drive is definitely worth is though, as bikers, sports car enthusiasts and other motorheads love the exhilarating rush traversing this famed stretch of highway promises.
Riding The Dragon
The Tail of the Dragon is a two lane stretch of road on US 129, also known as Tapaco Road in North Carolina and Calderwood Highway on the Tennessee side. With more than 300 curves over a stretch of 11 miles, it has been featured in movies and TV shows like Top Gear, Thunder Rod, The Fugitive and more.Scenic Routes
Sections Of The Dragon
The road borders both the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cherokee National Forest, and motorcyclists love it because there are no interrupting intersections among the winding road. Many of the 318 curves & sections on the Tail Of The Dragon are named. Some of these twists and turns include Copperhead Corner, Hog Pen Bend, Wheelie Hell, Shade Tree Corner, Mud Corner, Sunset Corner, Gravity Cavity, Beginner's End, and Brake or Bust Bend.
This is a very special and unique highway. There are no intersecting roads, no houses with driveways and no businesses. Each and every curve is different. There is very little elevation change. And many of the curves are banked like a race track. Watch out for a few twists that are off-camber and several that are decreasing radius curves.TailOfTheDragon.com
Tail Of The Dragon Photos
You will undoubtedly see photographers parked beside several of the curves on the Tail Of The Dragon, and they will undoubtedly snap your photo no matter what vehicle you're driving. There are several companies you can count on to capture your moment on the dragon: Killboy, 129 Photos, and 129 Slayer. To find your Tail Of The Dragon photos, just visit their websites and search by date. Most of them will allow you to narrow it down by the type of vehicle and timeframe.
Safety on the Tail of the Dragon
Drivers who dare conquer the Tail of the Dragon should follow a few precautions to make sure they slay the dragon safely. The speed limit on the Tail of the Dragon is 30 mph, and it is important to adhere to this. Blount County Rescue Squad maintains a presence on the Tail of the Dragon during summer months to quickly aid those who are conquered by the dragon. There were 37 traffic fatalities along this stretch of road between 2000 and 2017, so it is important to drive cautiously as you navigate the twists and turns.
Are you ready to slay the Tail of the Dragon? Start your engine and make crossing this famed stretch of road part of your next Smoky Mountain vacation. More important safety tips to keep in mind before conquering the Tail of the Dragon include:
- Always buckle up. Seat belts save lives.
- If you’re stuck behind a slow moving vehicle, just try to enjoy the ride. With all the hairpin turns, passing on the Tail of the Dragon is very unsafe. If you are holding up faster vehicles behind you, take advantage of the many pull-offs when you get the chance and let drivers pass you.
- Mind all speed limits. Though it might be fun to push your car or bike’s capabilities, safety on the road is paramount. Additionally, the Tail of the Dragon is heavily policed and speeding fines can be hefty.
- Unexperienced drivers & riders should be aware that this is not a road to sight see on. Details on the 129 Deals Gap website state the following: "No need to look at the wooded roadside when the curves are coming at you rapid fire. And the curves are what you should be concerned with."