Myself, a work buddy, and his son took a 3 day trip down to NC to ride the infamous Tail of the Dragon road.
You can read about it here…
Basically its an 11 mile stretch of road with 311 curves. Its is a must goto place if you are a motorcycle rider or love to drive fast on twisty roads.
Total Distance = 1,068 Miles
The trip was 3 days total, with days 1 and 3 mainly being travel days just to get down and back. One stop we did make on Day 1 was at the New River Gorge Bridge, which I had never seen before. It certainly is impressive to see in person.
We stopped at the visitor center for the bridge, which has a huge wooden staircase leading down the gorge alittle ways to give you a view of the bridge.
When we left we took a small road that winds down the gorges and crosses the river on a much smaller bridge, which gave us a great view of the bridge from down below. I remember at one point seeing a tractor trailer go over the bridge, it was so odd seeing that huge truck look so tiny, and be so high in the sky.
We stayed in a hotel in Servierville, TN the first night. We got there alittle before sundown and I didnt realize until the morning just how much there was in this town.
The main street is 6 lanes wide, and along both sides were tons of shops, carnivals, crazy looking buildings that looked like ships, one had King Kong hanging off it.
We didnt have time to check any of it out though since we had a full day of riding to do the next day. but had I known there was that much there I would have gotten up early the next morning just to walk down the street and take some photos of it all.
We headed out for our main objective of this trip, the must ride road or hair raising twists and turns known as the Tail of the Dragon.
We rode through Gatlinburg, TN. Which is basically a huge tourist trap, but it did seem to have a ton of cool shops, and places like Ripleys Believe it of Not. We also rode through Cheerokee which seemed very nice, had some nice scenery.
All of the roads in TN and NC were fantastic, nice twisty roads through and around the mountains with excellent pavement.
The Tail of the Dragon itself is just nuts. 318 turns in 11 miles. The speed limit used to be 50 mph and has recently been changed to 30 mph. Which may seem slow, but for most of the curves thats still fast enough to pucker certain orifices. There are also cops sitting on this road all the time so you have to keep an eye out for them. Not that I was speeding at all, which certainly doesnt show in the video linked below, which was the slowest run of the day…
The road draws in alot of people, especially bikers. There are companies that setup on the sides of the road and take your photo and post it on their website where you can order prints of it. In my gallery that I have linked to below you can see a section of photos that I saved from those sites of the three of us on the road. Though they are just small watermarked photos.
After riding the Tail a few times our next stop was Fontana Dam. Nothing real amazing about it, but it was a neat stop, and the water inlets were cool to look down into. From there we went to Clingmans Dome, the second highest point in the eastern US I believe. It is part of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, which is about half a million acres. Again the roads all through here were absolutely fantasitc. Great scenic views with nice twists and turns.
Riding up to Clingmans Dome was really neat, we were literally riding through clouds and fog to get there. Once at the top I was alittle disappointed by the view, we were at over 6,000 feet elevation, and all I would see was white cloud. but we hiked up to the observation tower anyway to see what we would see, and again were disappointed by how much cloud cover there was, you were lucky to see 100 feet. On our way back down to the parking lot all of a sudden a hole opened up the clouds, revealing a surreal view of a far off mountain top. It was so impressive that we decided we had to hike back up to the top to see if it had opened up there also. Luckily it had opened up some and the view from the tower was just amazing. There was still probably 80% cloud cover, but where holes formed in the clouds, there were spectacular views. It was a really neat experience to see the clouds changing shape and opening up these portals of scenic views.
By the time we started out of the park the sun was setting and the fog was still rolling in. We got to the second hotel well into the night, I think it ended up being a 12 and a half hour day. Our longest day of the trip, with the shortest distance traveled. Between the workout of riding the Tail, and hiking up the mountain, we were all beat.
Not really much to say about day 3 of the trip, it was basically all about putting the miles in to get home. We even went alittle different route than we originally planned just to make better time. It definitely takes its toll on you riding that much for 3 days straight, but I would do it all over again in a heart beat. And plan to !!!
Photos from the trip can be seen here…
Here is a video recorded from my helmet camera of the entire 11 mile Tail of the Dragon.