Helpful tips for planning a trip to the Tail of the Dragon and the surrounding region.

  • Your Safety and the Law

    Ready to navigate the mountains? Tips on what to bring, how to ride and drive, and law enforcement.

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  • Directions

    Driving directions, GPS coordinates, and street addresses to use.

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  • Websites to Visit

    Good list of websites to help you plan your trip. You'll find information on the touring route including points of interest, places to stop, where to stay, and history of the area.  

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  • Dragon Photographers

    Find your Tail of the Dragon and Moonshiner28 Photos here.

  • Online Brochure

    View and print the current Tail of the Dragon Map Brochure.

    Tail of the Dragon Brochure

QUESTIONS? Reach out to us:


The Tail of the Dragon is Federal Highway US 129 and is free for the public to enjoy at any time. It may be closed at times due to downed trees, rock slides or when the highway is blocked by accidents. For the most part it is open year round. We will post closures on and Facebook.

The primary season is April through October. March and November can be iffy, especially in the higher elevations of the Cherohala Skyway, Blue Ridge Parkway and US 441 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

CLICK HERE for help planning a Fall Color Tour including leaf reports, photos, videos, maps and more.

Winter months can be cold and snowy, but there are some days warm enough to ride. Cars can have the roads to themselves in the winter. Visit our Weather Page for current conditions and more details. CLICK HERE to view off season accommodations.



There are a wide variety of accommodations in our area. These range from basic tent camping to exclusive mountain top resorts.

The Tennessee side of the Smokies offers more for families and people interested in night life and other recreational pursuits.

THE GOOD Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have hundreds of motels and cabins. There are also many tourist attractions and places to eat.
THE BAD Crowds and longer rides to get to the great roads.

The North Carolina side is much more rural if you want to get away from the crowds. We call it the "quiet side of the Smokies".

THE GOOD You are close to the great roads and no crowds.
THE BAD A lot less in the way of recreational/dining options.

Reservations are Recommended especially on weekends and holidays.

The Six Gap area of north Georgia is much like the North Carolina area with reasonable lodging rates. If you are on the Blue Ridge Parkway you should plan ahead. There are very few accommodations on this limited access scenic byway. 

Plan Your Arrival. The mountains can get dark quickly. We recommend arriving at your primary destination in the daylight. Many of the mountain towns shut down at 9 pm. Plan for dinner before that. Some areas are dry making it necessary to travel for an hour to buy alcoholic beverages. BE AWARE Travel times are much greater on these mountain back roads. In some cases a thirty mile trip might take an hour.

Bring you gear. We highly recommend leathers, gloves, and full face helmets. Temps at 5,000 feet can be 10-15 degrees cooler, so dress accordingly. Visit Motorcycle Rentals & Repairs if you need to purchase gear while you are here. South Carolina is the only state in the region that does not require a helmet.


Western North Carolina, North Georgia, and East Tennessee.  CLICK HERE for printable map.



It takes a full week to get the most out of all area roads. We also suggest taking a couple days to explore our Smoky mountain lakes, stream, and trails.

Devils Triangle
Devils Triangle
Tatham Gap aka Gravel Dragon
Tatham Gap aka Gravel Dragon

Full Day Road Tour

If you are staying near the Tail of the Dragon, these routes can be toured in a full day

Smoky Mountain Loop
Dragon-Cherohala Loop
North Carolina Loop
North Georgia Ruby Run
Ocoee Loop
North Georgia Six Gap
Devils Triangle TN

Overnight Road Tour

If you are staying near the Tail of the Dragon, plan on an overnight trip for the following routes.  Visit our Where to Stay for convenient lodging. You might be able to catch some of these either on your way here or on your way home.

Snake421 in Shady Valley TN
Diamondback226 Little Switzerland and Blue Ridge Parkway
Gambler NC209 and Hot Springs NC

Gravel Routes

Recommended Forest Service roads for licensed dual sport motorcycles, jeeps, or 4wd.

Routes in Western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee
Waucheese Mountain
Tatham Gap aka Gravel Dragon



What kind of groups visit the Dragon? The three largest rallies (500 plus) are the Minis (April), Zdayz (May), and Miatas (August). There are many other nearby rallies in Cherokee and Maggie Valley. Nearby Pigeon Forge in Tennessee hosts several large antique car rallies each year. See EVENTS page for complete list.

If you see an event posted, don't stop from planning a trip. Most of the groups that visit Tail of the Dragon are small, informal gatherings of car or motorcycle groups. The rallies include a wide range of vehicles from MoPeds to supercars.

All of these rallies are planned, organized and conducted by private individuals or groups. simply acts as a place to list the events and spread the word. We have no specific part in any of the events except to provide a place for attendees to meet.

What can Tail of the Dragon provide for your group? We can post notice of your event to help attract other interested parties. We can make custom group signs, free stickers, and provide use of our graphics for event T-shirts or brochures. We can provide a location for scavenger hunts or poker runs. CONTACT US to make arrangements.


Many of the roads such as the Tail of the Dragon, the US421 Snake, the Cherohala, and Six Gap are patrolled on a regular basis. At times there will be LEO (law enforcement officer) saturation. Smart riders can spot this and ride more cautiously. In North Carolina watch your speed on the 4-lanes, many locals are rescue squad volunteers with radios in their personal vehicles and report speeders and reckless drivers.

Helmets are required in North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. Need to purchase gear while you are here? Visit Motorcycle Rentals & Repairs page for locations.

For more information on the area law enforcement visit our Area Law Enforcement Page.

If you need legal help, we recommend the following area attorneys:

• Mack Tallant - Robbinsville Tel 828-479-2442
Darryl R. Brown - Murphy Tel 828-835-9496




Are you ready to negotiate the curves?  Our number one piece of advice is to STAY IN YOUR LANE and that doesn't mean hugging the double yellow. Before your visit, read our advice found on  How to Ride the Dragon and How to Drive the Dragon.

Don't rely on cell phone service in the mountains. Verizon has the best coverage near populated areas.

We recommend carrying a GPS location device such as the SPOT or the Garmin inReach These devices allow you to share your location with family and friends and also gives you an SOS to emergency services, regardless of cell phone service. If riding alone this could save your life. There have been a number of cases where rider/drivers went off the road and were not found for days or even weeks. Many locations here are remote and not heavily traveled. Tell someone each day where you plan to ride. Keep in touch with loved ones so they don't call us in a panic looking for you.


Tail of the Dragon (intersection of US129 & NC28 one mile south of the TN/NC state line)
Street address 17555 Tapoco Road, Robbinsville, NC 28771
NOTE: Using street address does not always produce the correct results. Also search for the intersection of US129 and NC28.

Cherohala Skyway 35.345333, -83.89465 (North Carolina)
Street address for Cherohala Skyway Visitor's Center in Tellico Plains TN: 225 Cherohala Skyway, Tellico Plains, TN 37385

Moonshiner 28 (intersection of US129 & NC28 one mile south of the TN/NC state line)
Use street address 17555 Tapoco Road, Robbinsville, NC 28771 for the northern most post of NC28
NOTE: Using street address does not always produce the correct results. Also search for the intersection of US129 and NC28.

Devils Triangle
search for cities: Oliver Springs, TN, or Petros, TN
36.0472, -84.346683

Six Gap North Georgia (north end US129 & GA180)
search for Suches, GA
34.77185, -83.914183

Diamondback226 (Blue Ridge Parkwy)
search for Little Switzerland, NC

The Gambler NC209
search for Hot Springs, NC


QUESTIONS? Reach out to us: