Tail of the Dragon: America’s Most Exhilarating Winding Road

Motorists know that they’re in for the ride of their life when they spy a fierce dragon statue with gleaming red eyes. A stretch of road situated between Tennessee and North Carolina known as the Tail of the Dragon attracts daredevils from all over the world. The Tail of the Dragon—otherwise known as US 129—features over 300 bends without a single traffic light, intersection, or stop sign to break up the road. Sports car lovers and dedicated motorcyclists flock to the Tail of the Dragon to prove their mastery of the road.

Tail of dragon

Photo by Eifel Kreutz
| Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Though it is certainly ill-advised to take your eyes off the road when attempting to navigate the narrow, winding roads of the Tail of the Dragon, there are plenty of spots to pull over and enjoy the surrounding scenery. One of the most popular times to drive the Tail of the Dragon is in September and October, when the leaves are changing, The nearby Cherokee National Forest transforms into a dazzling grove of gold, orange, and red trees.

Motorcycle enthusiasts delight in stopping at the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort in North Carolina. Deals Gap features a ferocious dragon statue, modest rooms, and delectable burgers. Deals Gap also features a tree covered in busted motorcycle parts that have been recovered from accidents that occurred on the Tail of the Dragon. The dreaded “tree of shame” reminds even the most carefree daredevils that perhaps periodically slowing down on a road that features hundreds of hairpin turns is a good idea.

If a serious case of road rash does not sound like a good time, the Tail of the Dragon is surrounded by scenic nature areas such as the magnificent Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest where motorists can pull over and catch their breath. The splendor of the woods will instantly neutralize your adrenaline rush.

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