Across the Tail of the Dragon: Are You Ready to Conquer This Challenge?

Otherwise referred to as The Dragon or Deal’s Gap, The Tail of the Dragon is one of the most challenging rides you’ll ever get on. However, this does not dissipate its greatness as the best road for a motorcycle ride in the region. In fact, its proximity to mountain resorts and more scenic sports riding day loops than you’ve ever encountered make The Dragon a motorcycle vacation destination of choice.

Law enforcement notwithstanding, there is more to The Tail of the Dragon than meets the eye. As long as you ride within the legally mandated limits and you are careful, you should be able to enjoy Deal’s Gap and create memories to mull over for years to come.


The Dragon isn’t as easy to find as you might assume. Even on a map, this 11-mile stretch is pretty small. It hugs The Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s border on the sparsely-populated South West corner, making it ideal for riders who manage to get to it.

Most of this road is in Tennessee while a tiny section crosses over into North Carolina. To hit the runway, you should either use Google Maps or the Online Map Link until you get your bearings right.

To the North end, the closest town is Tallahassee while Tapoco is the nearest town on the South end.


The beautiful Smoky Mountain landscape makes up for any potential dangers you will encounter on the best road for a motorcycle ride. The evergreen covered mountains and lush forests all work hand in hand to immerse you in nature during your ride-along The Dragon.

Why Visit?

So, why would you get away from your regular riding routes and head over to The Tail of the Dragon? Why do enthusiasts regard it as the best road for a motorcycle ride? Consider the following:

a) Seductive Curves

For starters, the seductive curves of The Dragon will keep you on your toes – literally and figuratively.

b) Skill Test

Make your pilgrimage to Deal’s Gap to test your skills – or even to get bitten by what is The Dragon.

c) Population

The inhospitable terrain means that the area all around The Tail of the Dragon was one of the last North Carolinian areas to be settled. As such, the region is sparsely populated – making for the perfect experience for riders.

d) Treacherous Travel

Deal’s Gap isn’t for the faint of heart. Rather, the design of the road naturally attracts the bold and adventurous looking for quick, engaging thrills.

Road Quality

11 miles with 318 curves – this is the best description for The Tail of the Dragon. The curves, however, are not what you might assume. Rather, a combination of steep drop-offs, sharp turns, and tons of other bikes deliver a challenge any riding enthusiast should take up at least once.

As a real tourist attraction, the road is properly maintained by the local government. However, the high quality of The Dragon doesn’t necessarily make for is a carefree ride. In fact, only the genuinely enthusiastic will be able to derive excitement from the challenges this stretch provides.


Due to the twists and turns, you should only attempt The Tail of the Dragon when you are fully aware, know how to keep safe, and are ever-watchful. Although the scenery around the best road for a motorcycle ride is to die for, you still need to pay close attention to any oncoming traffic.


There aren’t too many pull-outs off Deal’s Gap save for a single store at the very end of your ride. Pop into it for refreshments and tales of The Dragon. Other roadside amenities include:

  • Gas station at the Deal’s Gap Motorcycle Resort
  • Food at the Dragon’s Den Grill
  • Accommodation at Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort
  • Repairs at the resort or Wheelers and the 129 Pit Stop
  • Pull-offs at the Dragon Overlook


I’ll never forget my experience on The Dragon’s 318 covetous curves and 11 miles of fun. The road is perfect if you wish to throw your bike around and push it towards its limits. As long as you are aware of your bike’s limits – as well as your own – you should be safe having the time of your life.

In my opinion, Deal’s Gap should be on every rider’s MUST-DO list. The scenery along the route, the cheerful camaraderie at the Overlook, and the potential for danger will keep you aptly challenged and rejuvenated about your capabilities and the beauty of nature.


The Blue Ridge Mountains offer beautiful riding opportunities. However, none of these rides quite measures up to The Tail of the Dragon, especially with regards to adventure, scenery, and freedom. Try out the best road for a motorcycle ride but be sure to remain vigilant – you will want to live to tell the tale.


About the Author

Peter Hanson is a motorcycle enthusiast and expert on motorcycle travel. He loves to travel and has covered a lot of countries over the past eight years. In each country, he takes the time to record his impressions.

Be sure to visit his blog to read more articles and helpful tips about motorcycle travel.