For motorcycle riders, riding the Dragon can be the pinnacle ride of a lifetime. The Dragon goes by many different names such as the Tail of the Dragon, Deal's Gap, The Dragon's Tail, or by its government given name of US Highway 129. Generally though the most commonly used name is simply "The Dragon." The route is often mentioned with a catch phrase that sums up what motorcycle riders are in store for when they ride the dragon - 311 curves in 11 miles! Talk about a work out for the rider and not a road for the faint of heart as you will not only be contending with Dragon's turns but also have to deal with other bikes riding the dragon that may be pushing it harder or going slower than you prefer as the route draws in fellow riders from all over the USA. And its not just drivers coming in from other states to ride the Dragon, but many motorcycle riders even come in from outside the USA. For a complete guide to the riding the Dragon (AKA, Deal's Gap, Tail of the Dragon) please see that Dragon's motorcycle road registration page.
Riding the Dragon In Southeastern Tennessee
The Tail of the Dragon is an 11 mile serpentine road that runs from Deals Gap ("gap" is the name given to a high point of a road that passes through mountain areas) north along US 129 just northwest of Franklin, North Carolina and heads along US 129 for 11 exciting miles. The road earned these nicknames basically due to the shape made by the path of the road when viewed from a map (like a dragon's tail with all the spades and bumps along its length). The entire length winds among and alongside the three major Bald Mountains; Silk, Tempest, and Ginger. It was declared one of the most dangerous roads in America by Car & Driver magazine in 2003.
Go Ride the Dragon ... But Come Back in One Piece
If you are going to ride the Dragon you'd better make sure you are up to it as it will be a challenge and when you get to this fabled road, make sure you drive within your capabilities as many part of riders' motorcycles are on display at the "tree of shame." There are endless pictures of the tree of shame online ... some showing the actual rider donating their own motorcycle's pieces to the tree.
Or worse, the Dragon tends to take rider's lives from time to time as there is literally a Death Map that chronicles the location and relevant accident factors (cause of accident, type of motorcycle, collision, etc.). The state of Tennessee has responded by going through different phases of cracking down on speeding and reckless driving but also wants to maintain a balance of not being overbearing in their application of law enforcement along the route as it is has become a major tourist attraction for that region of Tennessee as well as North Carolina. The government has made road improvements as well to improve safety like expanding the shoulder of the road in some areas and adding more pull out sections for traffic to use to either take breaks or have to use in response to accidents as there are many areas with little to now spaces to pull over.
More Dragon Motorcycle Ride Information
We've put together a couple of detailed guides for those motorcycle riders looking to ride the Dragon that include maps, photos, videos, and more. These guides also include fun facts about the ride and some of the lore that makes this route so famous in motorcycle rider circles The first guide to riding the Dragon describes the road, goes into the legendary motorcycle road's history, provides background on what makes the route the most famous motorcycle ride in the world and talks about the surrounding area and what else can be seen and toured on when your ride the Dragon.
The second guide describes how this popular road has spawned many other Dragon rides around the country that are presented as additional sections of the Dragon motorcycle ride including the Head of the Dragon, the Claw of the Dragon, and the Back of the Dragon.