Best time to visit Tennessee

Tail of the Dragon Road at Deals Gap in Tennessee

An extremely curvy drive between North Carolina and Tennessee, excellent for motorcycles and sport cars

Best time: April–October

Tail of the Dragon Road at Deals Gap
Tail of the Dragon Road at Deals Gap

The Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap is a scenic hilly road stretching on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. It reaches an elevation of 1,988 feet (606 m), passing along the southwest border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park near the Little Tennessee River. The Dragon's Tail Road boasts 318 curves in 11 miles (18 km), which makes it a premier destination for motorcycles and sports cars in the USA. This famous drive was featured in at least four movies: Thunder Road (1958), Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), The Fugitive (1993), and In Dreams (1999).

Where is the Tail of the Dragon Road

The Tail of the Dragon is located at Deals Gap and is a part of U.S. Route 129 in Blount County, Tennessee, and Swain County, North Carolina. The drive is also called Tapoco Road in NC and Calderwood Highway in TN. The twisting ride runs from the North Carolina/Tennessee border (Tapoco Road, Robbinsville, NC) and finishes in front of Chilhowee Lake, TN. Some of the sharpest curves of the road 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.

Best time to drive Tail of the Dragon

Even though the Dragon's Tail Road could remain open throughout the year, the best time to use the road is from April to October due to safe road conditions and mild mountain temperatures. During winter, the weather on the road can be harsh and unpredictable with occasional heavy snowfalls, blizzards, and icy conditions. However, the cold season has one advantage—good visibility on the curves since the trees are leafless.

How long does it take to ride the Tail of the Dragon

The speed limit on the road is 30 miles per hour (48 kph). So you can complete a one-way trip in about 30 minutes. The time needed will depend on how you drive as well as the overall traffic. Anyways, be cautious, as there have been some fatalities recorded on the Dragon. The sheer 37 deaths occurred between 2000 and 2017.

Camping near Tail of the Dragon

If you wish to stay longer and rest your head on the Dragon, check out some of its best camping options. You'll find campgrounds, camp cabins, and RV hookups. Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort, Hunt's Lodge Motorcycle Campground, and Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge are great choices if you're looking for a motorcycle-friendly place.

Tail of the Dragon map & things to do

When you're up to visiting the Dragon's Tail, you might want to have a closer look at the map below and find hotels nearby. Make your bookings in advance as this destination has been increasingly popular lately. Also, consider including other fun activities in your getaway program. Check out a close scenic drive of Little River Road, visit some of Tennessee waterfalls nearby, glimpse hummingbird migration, or behold the fall colors around Gatlinburg.

Practical info

What are the names of some dangerous turns on Tail of the Dragon Road?

Sharp bends on Tail of the Dragon have amusing names such as Hold On Tight Bend, Wheelie Hell, Mud Corner, and Gravity Cavity. Visitors are advised to be careful while driving through these sharp curves in order to avoid accidents. Show more

What are some movies that feature Tail of the Dragon Road?

Thunder Road, Two-Lane Blacktop, In Dreams and The Fugitive are some of the films that feature Tail of the Dragon Road. Tourists and fans of these movies alike travel to experience this highly-regarded scenic path in person. Show more

Are there camping sites near Tail of the Dragon?

Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort, Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge, Hunt’s Lodge Motorcycle Campground are some of the options available in the vicinity of Tail of the Dragon. Visitors can select from different types of accommodations and enjoy a motorcycle-friendly environment. Multiple campsites ensure that visitors spend quality time during their stay and make the most of the scenic route. Show more

What are some nearby attractions to visit while on the Tail of the Dragon Road?

Little River Road, Tennessee waterfalls, hummingbird migration in Summer and striking fall colors around Gatlinburg are some of the other attractions near the Tail of the Dragon Road. Little River Road offers striking views and fewer crowds compared to Tail of the Dragon Road. Visitors can witness the hummingbird migration that occurs in Summer here. During the fall, the gorgeous fall colors around Gatlinburg attract a lot of tourists. Show more

Ask a question
Last updated: