Tips, Tricks & Trends
If a lengthy, twisty road with smooth pavement is a playground for any car enthusiast, then the “Tail of the Dragon” can be considered heaven, or possibly hell. For those not in the know, the Tail of the Dragon is a stretch of road that cuts through the mountain pass known as “Deals Gap,” which …
If a lengthy, twisty road with smooth pavement is aplayground for any carenthusiast, then the “Tail of the Dragon” can be considered heaven, or possiblyhell. For those not in the know, the Tail of the Dragon is a stretch of roadthat cuts through the mountain pass known as “Deals Gap,” which is on theborder between North Carolina and Tennessee. And while this stretch of road isone of the mostscenic drives in the country, it’s also one of the most dangerous.
The Tail of the Dragon is the best road in America for spirited driving
The road is part of the US129 highway and to get an idea ofjust how curvy the “Dragon” is, the famous road spans 11 miles and is filledwith 318 different curves and corners along the way. Its name refers to thefact that the road resembles a dragon’s tail. According to the Tail of the Dragon website, it’s not adifficult road to drive, but its two-lane architecture and blind corners can betough to negotiate. If you have never experienced white-knuckle driving before,then The Dragon will surely give you a lesson.
Although, with the proper precautions and driving behaviors,it can be a really exhilarating and safe experience. The road might only havetwo lanes, but it has scenic overlook stops along the way so you can pull overand take your touristy photos of the surrounding foliage or let a faster carpass by. One of the best parts is that there are no intersecting roads, sothere’s no need to worry about cross traffic pulling out in front of you whendoing this drive.
The Tail of the Dragon is not a race track
Thrill-seekers from around the world seek out this destination drive but, unfortunately, the Tail of the Dragon is not a race track, which means that its speed limit is set at 30 mph. But even at that speed, if you don’t negotiate the blind corners well enough, it could lead to a head-on collision with a tractor-trailer, a motorcycle, a car, or even a large animal. Approximately 37 deaths were recorded between the years 2000 and 2017.
There are rules when driving The Dragon
To help keep drivers and motorcycle riders safe, the websitefor the Tail of the Dragonhas some helpful guidelines.
- Stay in your lane: There is a double-yellow line that separates the two lanes, if you touch it, you could be pulled over by the police as it is illegal to do so.
- Drive according to your skill level: No one is going to give you a trophy for the best lap time, so drive at your own comfort level and let faster cars pass. Driving too fast can be treacherous.
- Don’t overuse the brakes: Stay in a low gear the whole time and don’t overuse the brakes as they can quickly fade and cause you to run into someone else or go off the road.
- Use caution: Watch for wildlife, make sure that your vehicle is mechanically sound, and be sure to warm up the tires when you start driving.
It’s not too often that a specific stretch of road has itsown set of rules for those planning to drive on it. But when the road is asfamous and potentially dangerous as The Dragon, we can see why the rules exist.
Destination driving at its finest
Just like the Nürburgring or the autobahn, the Tail of the Dragon is easily one of the most popular destination drives for any motorcycle or car enthusiast. And while the drive might seem like a great way to test your driving skill, you could be damned if you do. But let that deter you from actually driving it. As long as you drive safely, you can still have a great time while taking in the beautiful scenery that surrounds you.