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The Tail of the Dragon (Deals Gap)

An extremely curvy road between North Carolina and Tennessee


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Deals Gap, also called Tail of the Dragon, is a part of U.S. Route 129 in Blount County, Tennessee and located in a gap belonging to Swain County, North Carolina. The road features 318 curves in 17.7 km (11 miles), which makes it a premier destination for motorcycle and sports cars in the USA. It is also a very scenic hilly road reaching an elevation of 606 m (1,988 ft), passing the Little Tennessee River, climbing through green forested areas bordering to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This famous road was featured in at least four movies: Thunder Road (1958), Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), The Fugitive (1993) and In Dreams (1999).

Deals Gap Community consists of a car and motorcycle enthusiasts. It's not surprising that some of the sharpest curves of the road resembling a dragon's tail have their own names: Copperhead Corner, Wheelie Hell, Hog Pen Bend, Shade Tree Corner, Sunset Corner, Gravity Cavity, Mud Corner, Beginner's End, and Brake or Bust Bend. The Deals Gap is also called Tapoco Road in North Carolina and Calderwood Highway in Tennessee.

The speed limit on the road is 48 km/h (30 mph). There have been approximately 37 traffic fatalities on Tail of the Dragon between 2000 and 2017. The weather on the road can be harsh and unpredictable during winter with occasional heavy snowfalls, blizzards, and icy conditions. So the best time to use the road is from April to October. Winter has one advantage though—good visibility on the curves since the trees are leafless.

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