For motorcyclists, riders and passengers, looking for a thrill, many turn to the area in North Carolina and Tennessee on a stretch of road dubbed “Tail of the Dragon.” This stretch of US Highway 129 stretches 11 miles and boasts an amazing 318 curves. The area is also known as Deals Gap, and the highway crosses borders into the adjacent states. Winding through the mountains, many motorcyclists believe this to be the true test of one’s ability to handle their motorcycle on curvaceous roads with absolutely no driveways, businesses, or intersections. This forested area around Great Smoke Mountains National Park is undeveloped and completely surrounded by nature, making it not only exciting, but a wonderful scenic trip for those looking for something off the beaten path. Tail of the Dragon is close to other highly populated motorcycle routes such as Moonshiner 28, the Devil’s Triangle, and the Diamondback, among others. Nearly half a million drivers cruise the Tail of the Dragon each year.
Although beautiful, this stretch of highway can also be fatal. Thirty two deaths have been reported on the Tail of the Dragon since 1995. Due to the tight corners and sharp turns, it can truly test one’s ability to handle their vehicle, and the road ahead of them. Accidents have involved riders skidding off the road, hitting other vehicles, and dangerous speeds. Before 1992, the speed limit along this stretch of highway was 55 mph, but has been periodically reduced over the years. The current speed limit is 30, and speed traps are randomly set up to enforce vehicles and motorists to take caution in this area.
While many enjoy the scenery, this road has lived up to its name thanks to the thousands of bikers that come to challenge themselves on tricky territory. The Tail of the Dragon is one of the craziest, curviest roads in the nation, and many motorcyclists have made special trips to this part of the North Carolina state line to test their skills–and the strength of their stomachs!