A Motorcyclist’s Guide to Tail of the Dragon and Other Smoky Mountain Drives
While there are a ton of great drives for motorcycle riders in the Smokies, the Tail of the Dragon is the one that reigns supreme! Between the amazing scenery and the breathtaking curves, it is on the bucket list for most motorcycle enthusiasts. Here is a complete motorcyclist’s guide to the Tail of the Dragon and other great Smoky Mountain drives:
Brief History of the Tail of the Dragon
The 11-mile route has a deep history that dates back centuries ago. While it is most known today for its thrilling ride, that was not always the case. Back in the early 1700s, the Cherokee Indians and early European settlers used this area as prime hunting ground. However, the Indians were forced off the land with the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Then, in 1934 the road was paved so it could start being used for travel. The amazing part about the road is that it took nearly 60 years for it to gain popularity among motorcycle riders. It wasn’t until the 1990s that the road became the known entity it is today.
Details About the Drive
If you plan on riding the Tail of the Dragon, there are a few things you will want to know before heading out on the open road. First of all, make sure you have enough time planned out to complete the drive. On average, it takes around an hour and a half to complete the drive, depending on traffic. Because of the curvy roads, it is not recommended to ride it at night. Therefore, you will want to plan ahead to give yourself plenty of time. Be sure you always wear proper equipment when riding on any Smoky Mountain drive. That includes a helmet with a face mask, jacket, gloves, and any other protection equipment needed.
While this is one of the most popular drives for all motorcycle riders, there are still some interesting facts that you might not have heard about this famous road. Did you know that there are a total of 318 curves over the 11-mile stretch? Also, there are no intersecting roads or driveways to hamper your travel. Another interesting fact is that the road is bordered by both the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cherokee National Forest!
Other Smoky Mountain Drives for Motorcyclists
While the Tail of the Dragon is known as the supreme ride among motorcyclists, there are many other great drives that offer amazing benefits. Here are just a few of other drives in the Smoky Mountains that are worth taking:
Newfound Gap Road
This historic road begins in Gatlinburg and passes through the heart of the Smoky Mountains National Park. Newfound Gap Road travels a total of 31 miles and encompasses a variety of forest ecosystems. With an elevation of 5,046 feet, you will be treated to some of the best views imaginable. There are a couple of interesting facts about this drive. Not only is it the only road that travels through the center of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but it is also the only fully paved road in the park! One tip for driving on Newfound Gap Road. Because of the higher elevation, the air temperature could drop by as much as 10 degrees from when you start. Therefore, you will want to be sure to bring a jacket when riding it on a motorcycle.
The Foothills Parkway consists of 33 miles and connects US 129 and US 321. This is one of the best scenic drives you can take in the Smoky Mountains. There are numerous pull off spots that make this drive unforgettable. While the views are amazing during all times of year, it has become a popular scenic route during fall because of the spectacular sights of fall foliage. If you have just got done driving the Tail of the Dragon, the Foothills Parkway provides an easy connection to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg!
If you are looking for the best way to see wildlife in the Smoky Mountains, a motorcycle ride through Cades Cove might be the answer. This 11-mile one-way loop is the perfect way for motorists to enjoy brilliant views of the mountains at their own leisurely pace. It is not recommended to drive through The Cove if you are looking for a fast drive. Because of the popularity of the road, there is a good chance it could take between two and four hours to complete, especially during peak seasons. However, it is the best route to have the best chance to see some of the amazing wildlife that call the Smoky Mountains home, including black bears and white-tailed deer!
Now that you have a guide to some of the best Smoky Mountain drives for motorcyclists, including the Tail of the Dragon, be sure to check out some of the other fun things to do in the area. We hope to see you soon in the Smokies!