There is nothing like the thrill of driving the Tail of the Dragon. There are no less than 318 tightly winding mountain curves along an eleven mile stretch of US-129 between North Carolina and Tennessee.
There are no guard rails to protect you, and the only thing standing between you and the steep mountain ravines are the performance capabilities of your vehicle and your reaction skills as an experienced driver (and occasionally the trees).
While outside curves on this winding road are a bit wider, the space between the painted lines on inside curves and straights are barely the width of the average sized car. The mountain and dense foliage mask the road ahead, and drivers rarely know what will appear around the next corner in the oncoming lane.
At top speeds, the seemingly never ending curves begin to run together and staying between the lines becomes dangerously difficult for even the best of drivers. The "Dragon" is definitely a bucket list must! Check out this video of a Porsche 991-1 Turbo S running the dragon.
Depending on how much nerve you choose to give yourself, you could find yourself experiencing nirvana and terror simultaneously while also discovering your car never reaches 4th gear. The builders of this road must have been racers at heart. The road appears to have been designed specifically for the purpose it is currently filling.
For those of us who like pushing a vehicle's limits, the road has banks where banks are needed and the turns are spaced in ways that dictate to drivers that they must be hyper tuned-in to their surroundings, and become one with the vehicle.
You most likely will not see police traffic on the dragon itself unless it is to respond to the occasional accident. They are frequently spotted on either end and just ouside of the eleven mile stretch. Our initial impression is that they are standing by to offer first aid after the fact and to clear the road for the other drivers.
According to the County Sheriff's Office, there were 178 crashes on The Dragon between November 2015 and April 2017 resulting in 90 injuries and three fatalities. The Dragon saw 27 fatal motorcycle wrecks within a 10 year period.
On the North Carolina side of the Dragon's entrance is a "Tree Of Shame" erected as a monument to those who unfortunately were unable to successfully navigate the Dragon's Tail. It is made up of the remains of mangled car and motorcycle parts from various failed attempts to conquer it. It also serves as a memorial to the lives lost, and is a startling reminder that the "Dragon" deserves our deepest respect!
Do you have a story about your trip to the Tail Of The Dragon? Feel free to share it with us!