At the end of August we had a family reunion down in North Carolina. We stayed in an AirBNB in a huge backwoods lodge at Huffman Creek Retreat about 12 miles west of Robbinsville, NC. Our daughter flew in from Washington, without her kids, so we had all five of our children, two of our in-law kids and six grandkids. This was the first time that all five of my children have gathered together since October 2016. We car-pooled it down there from Lexington, KY thru Knoxville, TN and then on to “The Dragon,” (also called the Tail of the Dragon) which started near Chilhowee Lake near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Driving from Lexington, we took I 75 south and then once in Knoxville, we too US 129 through Maryville and Alcoa. As we approached from Maryville, we eventually arrived and stopped at a small souvenir shop called Dragon 318 in Punkin Center, TN. The shop is run by Keith and Merrielee Turley…a very friendly couple who were happy to provide lots of info about the Dragon. In discussing our pending drive down The Dragon, Keith reminded me to remember that The Dragon is completely in Tennessee. They carry lots of hats, t-shirts, patches, pins, leather goods, snacks, etc. They even have cabin rentals! It is definitely a great stop before hitting The Dragon!
From this point you begin the 11 mile wind along The Dragon, which then ends at the North Carolina border are Deals Gap. Along the way there are typically four or five photographers who take photos of all the vehicles that pass along the way. These are posted online for purchase. According to one biker’s website, The Dragon is considered to be the number one motorcycle road in America. (see https://matadornetwork.com/trips/12-best-motorcycle-roads-america/) . Other sites also have it as number one and one of the most difficult rides for bikers. We saw dozens of bikers along the eleven mile drive.
The winding eleven miles end up at the border of Tennessee and North Carolina at a place called Deals Gap. Once into North Carolina, the Deals Gap “Tail of the Dragon” is an awesome stop. In fact, the best photo op NOT on the actual road is the huge metal dragon on the west side of the road. In fact, you can’t miss it, but you should stop for a photo op. There is a also a couple of places to eat, souvenir stands and a big parking lot for meetups, if needed.
Ultimately, this eleven mile drive can be pretty dangerous, especially for bikers. Fortunately, there are a few places where one can pull off the road to let others by. But, with so many curves, the drivers need to watch for traffic coming toward them as well.
WATCH FOR MY NEW BOOK “8154” — COMING SOON TO AMAZON
I am currently working on my FOURTH book, titled “8154” to represent the mileage of my epic road trip with family. Stories, including the one above, will be included. You can visit my Amazon Author Page to see my other books at https://amzn.to/3azY36l