People from all across the country travel to the Smoky Mountains just to drive this 11-mile stretch of road.

Winding Mountain Roads

If you have ever been to the Smoky Mountains, there's a good chance you've driven on a winding mountain road.  There are many curvy roads throughout the mountains that you need to drive carefully and take your time on.  One stretch of road in the Smoky Mountains is an 11-mile mountain road that thrill-seekers from all over the country travel to enjoy.

The Tail of the Dragon

The Tail of the Dragon or simply "the Dragon" is a nickname given to an 11-mile stretch of road that takes you through 318 curves along the side of a mountain.  As you can imagine, 318 curves in only 11 miles, means this is one dangerous winding road.


According to The Smokies,  The Tail of the Dragon is Tapoco Road in NC and Calderwood Highway in TN. The tail of the Dragon takes about 30 minutes to cover and is home to some gorgeous Smoky Mountain Scenery. There are pull-offs throughout this stretch of road where you can safely pull over to soak in the views.

Without houses with driveways, businesses or intersecting roads, it’s known as possibly one of the best rides in the country for motorcyclists. In fact, it is said to draw more than a quarter-million motorcycle riders each year. The Dragon is also popular with sports car enthusiasts. At least a couple of movies, such as “The Fugitive” with Harrison Ford and “Two-Lane Blacktop” had scenes filmed there. The irony of the situation is The Dragon cuts through some of the most scenic terrains in America.


Safety When Travelling on The Dragon

Many motorcyclists travel from all over to ride the Dragon, but keeping safety in mind is important.  If you do want to travel to take on this treacherous 11-mile stretch of road, you must ride or drive this stretch of road responsibly.


The Blount County Sheriff's Office has created a website to help folks learn about safety when traveling on the Dragon.  They shared this sobering statistic on the Dragon Awareness website:

We are often asked why we spend so much time and money on traffic enforcement efforts on "The Dragon". The simple answer is this: In 10 years there were 27 motorcycle fatalities on the 11 miles while the rest of the roads in Blount County, over 1100 miles, there were only 23 motorcycle fatalities. Also keep in mind that while this number of fatalities may not seem extremely high for a US highway, we are only talking about an eleven mile section of a roadway where the speed limit is only 30 mph.

WDKS-FM logo
Get our free mobile app

Dragon Awareness also shared that this stretch of road is in a very rural area, and medical assistance cannot get to it very quickly, so please keep all of this in mind if you decide to take on the Tail of the Dragon.

Ride responsibly, drive responsibly, and enjoy the Dragon!

LOOK: Must-do activities at every national park

Stacker lists the must-do activities at every national park ranked by the annual number of visitors. 

Gallery Credit: Angela Underwood