Tail of the Dragon, Smoky Mountains

Planning a trip to the Dragon’s Tail, Smoky Mountains?

This is a scenic drive that will take you through some of the most spectacular views in the country.

Situated in the Northeastern Mountains, this is one of thirty-five routes in North America that have been designated as All-American roads.

Riding the Tail of the Dragon in Tennessee is one of the best things to do in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Here is an ultimate guide to driving the Tail of the Dragon scenic drive.

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Where is the Dragon Tail, Smoky Mountains?

Planning a trip to the Dragon’s Tail in North Carolina?

The Dragon Tail Road is a section of US 129 near Deals Gap in western North Carolina.

Deals Gap is a mountain pass located on the North Carolina Tennessee state line.

It is one of the hidden gems in the Smoky Mountain park.

Also Read: Atlanta to Smoky Mountains Road Trip

Directions to Tail of the Dragon Drive

This stretch of road is situated near Tennessee Valley, TN, and Cherokee County, NC.

To get to Deals Gap NC, travel north on US 129 (near the Great Smoky Mountains) from Interstate 40, or take a sharp left turn onto Lizard Head road just after crossing Fontana Lake Bridge.

The Tail of the Dragon begins here and continues for 11 miles in the direction of Robbinsville, North Carolina.

The address for Tail of the Dragon drive is 17555 Tapoco Road, Robbinsville, NC 28771

Why is Tail of the Dragon so famous?

The scenic route is a well-known road for motorcyclists and sports car enthusiasts.

The Tail of the Dragon road is also known by many other names: Deal’s Gap or just ‘The Dragon’ or Dragon road or Dragon’s Tail!

The route is named after its winding, curvy course as it follows the state line.

In its 11 miles stretch, motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts will encounter 318 curves!

The road is also lined with breathtaking views of the Smoky Mountain and interesting rock formations.

This scenic area provides hours of fun for those who love adventure.

Curves of the Tail of the Dragon

A motorcycle ride on the scenic highway is the ultimate vacation for adrenaline seekers.

The curves on the Dragon’s Tail are so famous that they even have their own names!

Some of the more challenging curves are called Beginner’s End, Gravity Cavity, and Sunset Corner.

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Tail of the Dragon was featured in the movie The Fugitive?

Tail of the Dragon Ride FAQs

Here is some essential information for drivers planning the road trip along this highway.

How long does it take to drive the Dragon’s Tail?

It takes about 30 minutes to drive the 11 miles stretch of road without stopping.

However, we recommend keeping aside about 2 hours to enjoy the experience.

Are there any pullouts on the 11 mile road?

Motorcycle and car drivers can use the scenic overlooks and pull outs along the road to admire the scenery.

Calderwood Overlook and Deal’s Gap Overlook are some of the popular ones.

What is the speed limit on the Dragon?

The speed limit on the Dragon is 30 miles per hour.

This should be followed strictly for your own safety.

The route also has many patrol cars to enforce the limits.

What to wear when riding the Tail of the Dragon

Being known as one of the most beautiful locations in the country, just about anything goes.

However, when riding and enjoying this scenic route on a sunny day, be sure to wear sunscreen and sunglasses.

Bring a jacket as the mountain air can get quite cold, especially in spring or fall.

The Dragon Sculpture

Most riders want to know where the iconic metal sculpture of the dragon with a motorcycle around its tail is located.

The sculpture is at the North Carolina end of the road in front of the tail of the Dragon Store.

It is directly across the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort.

The store also has several souvenirs, magnets, t-shirts, postcards, maps, and other Tail of the Dragon themed merchandise.

The address for the sculpture is 17555 Tapoco Road, Robbinsville NC.

Best time to visit the Dragon’s Tail Ride

Late Spring to early fall is the best time to drive the Dragon’s Tail.

Summer means a lush green drive while in the fall, you will be treated to stunning foliage views.

Early spring or late fall, you will need to be careful about potentially icy or snowy conditions and storms.

Winter is the worst time to drive this treacherous road and not recommended.

Things to remember before riding the Tail of the Dragon

Riding the 318 curves of the Dragons Tail is no easy task!

The route is suitable for experienced riders on sports motorcycles or any other high performance cars.

Accidents on the road are common due to the sharp curves.

Driving the road at night or in foggy conditions is not recommended.

Check weather conditions before your drive and do not attempt in rainy and/or icy conditions.

Big trucks are banned on the road as are campers.

An awesome ride, but be sure to follow the speed limit and some safety precautions while riding.

Map of the Tail of the Dragon

If you’re looking for directions to Deals Gap or a Dragon Tail map, then this section is for you.

You can find a variety of useful drive maps here.

The maps also show the location of several attractions in the vicinity of Deals Gap.

Tail of the Dragon Lodging

Looking for places to spend the night after riding the Dragon?

Here are some suggestions for places to stay near the Tail of the Dragon.

Deal’s Gap Motorcycle Resort in Robbinsville is a favorite stop with many because of its location at the North Carolina end of the route.

There are several other lodging options near Robbinsville.

Dragon’s Tail, North Carolina Nearby Attractions

Several attractions in the Smokies are close to the route including Fontana Lake, Bryson City, Blue Ridge Parkway, and Asheville.

With so many breathtaking attractions located near Deals Gap in both states, we recommend planning your trip well in advance.

Here are some of the closest nearby attractions.

Cherohala Skyway

The Cherohala Skyway is a scenic drive that connects Robbinsville in North Carolina with Tellico Plains in Tennessee.

The drive is popular for its panoramic views and fall foliage.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a paradise for outdoor lovers.

Things to do in the park include camping, hiking, fishing, biking and more.

Hike to scenic waterfalls, drive the scenic Cades Cove Loop Road or the Foothills Parkway, and spot wildlife during your visit.

Read our post on Smoky Mountains Itinerary to plan your trip.


Gatlinburg is one of the most charming mountain towns in Tennessee along with Pigeon Forge and Townsend.

Along with a historic Main Street, excellent restaurants, and hiking trails, Gatlinburg also has theme parks and aquariums.

There are also several scenic drives near Gatlinburg for motorcycle rides.

It makes an excellent vacation to enjoy nature in the Smokies.

Cherokee Indian Reservation

Located in nearby Cherokee County North Carolina, the reservation provides authentic American Indian cultural experiences.

Cherokee makes an excellent base to visit Cataloochee Valley and the North Carolina Smokies.

It is also near the eastern entrance to the national park.

Fontana Lake

Fontana Lake  is a picturesque lake located in the Western North Carolina.

It is formed by Fontana Dam, which holds back the water of the Little Tennessee River.

Water recreation is one of the popular activities at Fontana Lake.


Asheville is a romantic and charming city in the Blue Ridge mountains.

It makes an excellent vacation for couples and outdoor lovers with its many restaurants, wineries, breweries, waterfalls, and hiking trails.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the best road trips in the USA.

The historic road stretches 2656 miles from North Carolina to Virginia.

Ride a motorcycle along the scenic Tails of the Dragon and Blue Ridge Parkway for some unforgettable views.

Bryson City

Bryson city is a charming mountain town located along the Little Tennessee River in Western North Carolina.

Nearby attractions include Deep Creek, Fontana Lake, Cherokee Reservation, and the Great Smoky Mountain National Forest.

This makes Bryson City a good base to visit the smokies, Cherokee Indian Reservation and many other attractions in Western North Carolina.

The Tail of the Dragon is featured as one of the best roads for bikers around the world!

The famous scenic route attracts motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world for its curvy, challenging course and stunning views of Smoky Mountain ranges.

It’s no easy task to drive this 11 mile stretch but it makes an excellent vacation for adrenaline seekers who love adventure!

Related Smoky Mountains Posts

Check out our other posts about the Smokies and Blue Ridge mountains to plan your trip to the region:

Smokies in Fall: Ultimate Travel Guide

Best Waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains

Things to do in Cades Cove, Smoky Mountains

Ultimate Tennessee Road Trip Itinerary