Enjoy a Drive on Scenic Highway 129 near the Great Smoky Mountains and Experience the Tail of the Dragon!

Scenic Highway 129 starts in languid Chiefland, Florida, a far cry from the blue haze and cooler temperatures of the Great Smoky Mountains. Hundreds of miles from its inception, this iconic highway enters Tennessee west of the Smokies near the banks of Chilhowee Lake. The stretch of Highway 129 between Knoxville, Tennessee and Robbinsville, North Carolina winds through some of the best views and most exciting, motorcycle-friendly curves in the world in an 11 mile stretch known as the “Tail of the Dragon.”

Scenic Drive in the Smokies along Highway 129

Just before the start of the world-renowned “Tail of the Dragon,” drivers are treated to a stunning view of the majestic Tennessee hills rising behind Chilhowee Lake. Year-round, the blue of the water reflects the mountains in a display that makes drivers instinctively stop for photographs. The famous Foothills Parkway may be accessed to the left of Lake Chilhowee. This parkway offers stunning vistas, including some that span a hundred miles or more. There is no commercial development on the Parkway, which allows for the visitor to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature unfettered by urban clutter and noise.

In the few miles leading around Lake Chilhowee and prior to the start of the “Tail of the Dragon,” outdoorsy types can take a left onto Happy Valley Road and follow the signs to Abrams Creek Campground, a National Parks Service campground under the lush canopy of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Convenient to Look Rock and a variety of park-maintained hiking trails, Abrams Creek offers a great place to set up camp prior to enjoying the amazing “Tail of the Dragon” by car or motorcycle.

Motorcycle and sports car owners from all over the country pack this portion of 129, especially on weekends, three seasons out of the year, with a steady, but much thinner, stream making the drive in winter. The route, also known as Deal’s Gap, features a Harley Davidson store, other stops geared toward feeding and selling souvenirs to the cycling set, and at least three professional photography companies set up along the way, snapping away and then offering the weekend’s photographs for sale online.

The eleven miles of the “Tail of the Dragon” pack 318 curves with names like “Horns of the Dragon” and “Copperhead Corner.” Passengers are the only ones who can enjoy the view of surrounding forests and mountains as the road, while beautifully banked in the turns, forces the full attention of the driver. In the last ten years, 28 people have lost their lives in this short stretch, 27 of these were on motorcycles.  This year, in the month of September alone, 177 traffic citations were issued and seventeen crashes took place. Sport bikers roar around Goldwing cruisers out for a Sunday drive. Sports cars of every make and model meet scooters and trikes, sometimes traveling in small entourages as friends make a special event out of the Dragon. The highway is alive with visitors with an appetite for fun.

The Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort offers motel and camping amenities on the North Carolina end of the Dragon, where 129 meets Highway 28. The resort, which also features a restaurant and store, is a hub of activity in every season except winter, when it is temporarily closed.

Check out this video of the world’s fastest rider, the Dragon Slayer, who is part of the USA129Photos.com Race Team!

If you choose to head south to Robbinsville, North Carolina as you exit the “Tail of the Dragon,” you’re in for a real treat. The community has a tucked-away feeling that makes one instinctively grab for real estate tracts. Lake and forest vistas and small-town charm foster a sense that all is right with the world. The Native American community of citizens in Robbinsville reminds the traveler that these hills have a history longer than our nation. The area around Scenic 129 has seen buffalo stampedes, British troops and Civil War intrigue and angst. It’s wonderful to know that the area is now devoted, by and large, to the joys of nature and the fellowship of family and friends.

laurie-crater-battles-heysmokiesPost by Laurie Crater Battles – journalist, blogger, hiker, biker, mom, animal and coffee lover who makes her home in Knoxville.

More Hey Smokies Features:

Smoky Mountain Stargazing Event
Smoky Mountain Stargazing Event...
Smoky Mountain Stargazing Event. Star gazing is always a Smoky Mountains special event. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is hosting a stargaz[Read More >>]
North America's Longest Footbridge
North America's Longest Footbridge...
North America's Longest Footbridge. Gatlinburg Sky Bridge Opens May 17, 2019. When you travel to Gatlinburg you will have no trouble finding the[Read More >>]
Fourth Annual Appalachian Bear Fest
Fourth Annual Appalachian Bear Fest...
Fourth Annual Appalachian Bear Fest is scheduled for Saturday, June 1, 2019 from 11 a.m. til 3 p.m. at the ABR Visitor and Education Center, 121[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Trillium Gap Rehabilitation Closes Trail
Smoky Mountain Trillium Gap Rehabilitation Closes Trail...
Smoky Mountain Trillium Gap Rehabilitation Closes Trail. Beginning May 13, 2019 work begins on improving the much loved Trillium Gap trail. This[Read More >>]
HighlandersUnite Highland Games Gatlinburg
HighlandersUnite Highland Games Gatlinburg...
HighlandersUnite Highland Games Gatlinburg. The Highlander Games of Gatlinburg (HUGG) are always a Smoky Mountain special event! The games retur[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Tamale Recipe
Smoky Mountain Tamale Recipe...
Smoky Mountain Tamale recipe. Homemade tamales are always a Smoky Mountain special event! Did you know that the Smoky Mountains are on the edge [Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Cinco de Mayo Events
Smoky Mountain Cinco de Mayo Events...
Smoky Mountain Cinco de Mayo Events. Cinco de Mayo (which actually means May 5 in Spanish) is always a Smoky Mountain special event and is proba[Read More >>]
Dollywood Welcomes Wildwood Grove Guests
Dollywood Welcomes Wildwood Grove Guests...
Dollywood Welcomes Wildwood Grove Guests beginning May 2019. This is sure to be a great year for America's favorite theme park. The Wildwood Gro[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Ramp Pesto Recipe
Smoky Mountain Ramp Pesto Recipe...
Smoky Mountain Ramp Pesto Recipe. Ramps, allium tricoccum, have been a Smoky Mountain secret delicacy for generations. This delicious bulb and i[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Dates Announced
Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Dates Announced...
Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Dates Announced. Every year in late May or early June, thousands of visitors gather near the popular Elkmont [Read More >>]
14th Annual Master Gardener Flower And Garden Show
14th Annual Master Gardener Flower And Garden Show...
14th Annual Master Gardener Flower And Garden Show is a great Smoky Mountain event! The event is scheduled for Saturday, April 27, 2019 from 9 a[Read More >>]
Dolly Parton Mural
Dolly Parton Mural...
Dolly Parton Mural in Asheville, North Carolina. Sevierville’s own Dolly Parton is larger than life in Asheville this year. Sevierville's favori[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Grist Mills
Smoky Mountain Grist Mills...
Smoky Mountain grist mills. Mountain streams and rivers provided water power for early grist mills. The fast-moving creeks of the Great Smoky Mo[Read More >>]
Fourth Annual Color Me Mutt 5K
Fourth Annual Color Me Mutt 5K...
Fourth Annual Color Me Mutt 5K is scheduled for Saturday, April 27, 2019. Nascar Speed Park in Sevierville, Tennessee will host the event again [Read More >>]
Ruby Throated Hummingbirds
Ruby Throated Hummingbirds...
Ruby throated Hummingbirds due to appear in East Tennessee. April in East Tennessee marks the time to get out hummingbird feeders and fill them [Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Mars Probe Launch Successful
Smoky Mountain Mars Probe Launch Successful...
Smoky Mountain Mars Probe Launch Successful. The recent Clingmans Dome Mars probe launch heralded a new era of cooperation between the Natio[Read More >>]
Updated Great Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Lottery Dates
Updated Great Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Lottery Dates...
Updated Great Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Lottery Dates. The dates for the 2019 Synchronous Firefly shuttle operations calendar will be a[Read More >>]
Dollywood Festival Of Nations 2019
Dollywood Festival Of Nations 2019...
Dollywood Festival Of Nations 2019. Feel the beat at Dollywood’s Festival of Nations scheduled March 16, - April 14, 2019.  Entertainers from se[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Super Moon
Smoky Mountain Super Moon...
Smoky Mountain Super Moon will rise above the Southern Appalachian mountains Wednesday, March 20, 2019. This Smoky Mountain special event is the[Read More >>]
Knoxville's Urban Wilderness
Knoxville's Urban Wilderness...
Knoxville's Urban Wilderness Is Wild. The urban wilderness is gaining national recognition for it's expansive multi-use trail system and l[Read More >>]