We get many questions from people interested in heading this way to enjoy our many great roads. Hopefully this page will provide some hints that will make your trip even better.
DO MOST OF YOUR PLANNING BEFORE YOU HEAD THIS WAY:
You can maximize your riding/driving time if you plan your routes from home. The Internet is a great source of information. Visit our touring page at TailoftheDragonTours.com for numerous rides and routes with information on places to visit, where to stay, good dining, road conditions, maps and more. We have details on both paved and dual sport routes.
Also visit our map page for many printable area maps on the our TailoftheDragonMaps.com. Make sure everyone in your group has a map to where you are staying .... and uses it !
By using our Touring information you can plan most of your trip right on your computer. Print out the maps and the entire page for reference.
It takes a full week to get the most out of area roads. Spend a full day on the Dragon/Cherohala Loop, a full day for the Moonshiner 28, a full day for North Georgia Six Gap, a full day for the southern part of the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Diamondback, and a full day for the Devils Triangle.
If you plan to run the Snake in Shady Valley you need to plan an overnighter there. It's close to 200 miles from the Dragon. Another overnighter might include staying near Asheville and running the Hot Springs and Roan Mountain areas. These roads are over a 100 miles from the Dragon.
You might be able to catch some of these either on your way here or on your way home. Here is a map showing the locations of these roads.
WHERE TO STAY:
There are a wide variety of accommodations in our area. These range from basic 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. THE GOOD - You are close to the great roads and no crowds. THE BAD - A lot less in the way of recreational/dining options. Accommodation reservations are recommended, especially on weekends and holidays.
North Georgia is much like the North Carolina area.
You can find good rates for accommodations. Choose from camping, RV parks, reasonably priced apartments, chain motels, locally owned motels, cabins, and resorts. Visit our accommodation page at TailoftheDragonResorts.com for motorcycle friendly places in all areas.
If you are on the Blue Ridge Parkway you should plan ahead. There are very few accommodations on this limited access scenic byway.
BUY A GPS UNIT:
This alone can save you hours of hair pulling on the road. To use it to best advantage pre-program your route before you hit the road. When using a GPS unit do not rely on it totally. At times you need to use some common sense. And bring along your printed map too. Visit our GPS Hints page for more information.
MAKE SURE YOUR MOTORCYCLE/CAR IS READY:
It may sound like common sense, but we have seen people get here and spend more time wrenching than riding. Make sure you have good tires, brakes, proper fluid levels, etc. Get a tune-up.
Also make sure you have your motorcycle safely secured in the trailer. Check it at every stop. We have seen people arrive with bikes totalled after falling off the trailer on the Interstate. Make sure the trailer has good tires properly inflated.
The Dragon is Federal Highway US 129 and is free for the public to enjoy at any time. It may be closed for short periods due to downed trees and when the highway is blocked by accidents.
The main season is April through October. March and November can be iffy, especially in the higher elevations.
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.
OTHER THINGS TO DO:
Plenty of other outdoor activities to enjoy during your stay. Rent a boat and experience our crystal clear mountain waters on lakes surrounded by unspoiled forest, trout fishing, hiking, white water rafting… Visit our Other Things To Do page to help plan an activity.
We purchased a SPOT and have it on all the time we are on the road. A friend has access by computer to view where we are and where we have been. 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.
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!
Remember that dangers can be just around the corner. Wildlife such as bears, wild hogs, turkeys and deer are fairly common. Downed trees can be a hazard too.
Cell phone reception is hit or miss in the mountains. For the most part it's a miss. Don't rely on them. Verizon has the best access.
Riding our roads is not a track day. If you are ticketed it will cost you more than a track day. Many of the roads such as the Dragon, the Snake, the Cherohala, and Six Gap are regularly patrolled. 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. And remember that many locals are volunteers with radios in their beat-up trucks. They'll report speeders and reckless drivers.
Helmets are required in North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. For more information on the area law enforcement visit our Area Law Enforcement Page.
If you need some legal help, we recommend the following area attorneys:
When you get home, order your photos from the Killboy photographers stationed at the Dragon and occasionally on the Cherohala Skyway. It takes 3-4 days to post the photos which will be posted by date on the photographer's website. They archive the photos for years.