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Tail of the Dragon....educate me!

Discussion in 'North & South Carolina' started by jimshadow, Jul 17, 2019.

  1. jimshadow

    jimshadow F1 Rookie
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    Feb 19, 2006
    4,084
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    JIM
    I'm taking a road trip in my DB9 from Indiana to Sarasota, Florida over Labor Day Weekend and I'm thinking of driving the Tail of the Dragon on the Thursday before Labor Day. Some say its worth it, others say its become way too crowded on off-days let alone weekends.
    What are the thoughts from those who have actually driven it recently and/or live in the area??

    Jim
     
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  2. CarAholic

    CarAholic Formula Junior

    May 10, 2016
    352
    I went to it two years back for a run. Luckily we were the only ones up there as it was towards the end of fall. While it’s a great road I prefer the mountain roads near me


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  3. Thecadster

    Thecadster Formula Junior
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    Apr 27, 2017
    719
  4. usshelena725

    usshelena725 Karting

    Nov 22, 2014
    72
    Johnson City, TN
    I live just a short distance away. I have been many times and would certainly recommend it - I think you will have a great time. If looking for a road that is 95% of the Dragon with only 1% of the traffic, also take a look at 421 the snake. I actually drive this road to work many days, and it is fantastic. Many times I will go 20 minutes without seeing another car. It is about 90mins away from the dragon.
     
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  5. italiafan

    italiafan F1 Veteran

    Jul 19, 2006
    9,701
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    Stickbones Swagglesmith
    I think it has become a bit of a legend and therefore a little overrated. It has almost too many twists and turns and not fun relaxing mountain cruising by any means. Also, there are so many knuckleheads on there you really have to be careful. Harley riders that overshoot apices coming at you in your lane, and families in minivans "driving the dragon" at 15mph.
    I was there a few weeks ago and got pulled over by a deputy. Very nice guy, gave me a warning and we had a long chat about cars (I was in a Ferrari). Funny he pulled me and first thing he said was, "I've never pulled over a Lamborghini before." To which I replied in good humor, "You still haven't."
    Long story short he said they have a state grant to pay off duty deputies to monitor the "Dragon" and write tickets because it has become too much of a speeders destination and they are getting sick of it, and the injuries (usually high performance bikes...)....so be careful...not an unrestricted racetrack anymore.
    Go ride other parts of 129 to the north, 28, and Foothills Parkway is really nice.
     
  6. cfensty

    cfensty Formula Junior
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    Jan 1, 2008
    644
    Hilton Head Is., SC
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    Craig
    421 is a much better experience. The tail of the dragon is just you at the back end of a 40 car/bike caravan doing like 15 mph.


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  7. BT

    BT F1 World Champ

    Mar 21, 2005
    14,488
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    Bill Tracy
    The dragon is generally overrated in my experience. On a weekday you can get a clean run occasionally, but the heavy police presence (especially near a holiday) takes away a lot of the fun. The speed limit is 30 and they don't give you much cushion above that for ticketing. Lots of other great roads in the area with more considerate travelers that allow you to get around them and have some fun. The dragon is notorious for having Harley riders refuse to use any of the roughly 112 pull offs to let anyone pass.

    It would be a great road if not for the traffic and policing in my opinion.

    :)
    BT
     
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  8. DCNSX

    DCNSX Formula Junior

    Feb 5, 2007
    623
    Winston-Salem, NC
    I live in NC and have only driven the Dragon twice. The turns are SO frequent your DB9 will barely stretch its legs . I recommend other NC roads as others here do.
     
  9. DreamCarrera

    DreamCarrera Formula Junior

    Oct 25, 2006
    629
    S.E. PA
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    Eric
    The Tail has been an item on my to-do list for a long time now (I live about 11 hrs away) but, unfortunately, it has remained on my to-do list for the reasons stated by the posters in this thread. If I ever do make the trip, I'll be sure to spend 2-3 days in the area to experience some of the other great nearby roads.
     
  10. tomc

    tomc F1 World Champ

    Apr 13, 2014
    16,967
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    The wife and I drove the Dragon about 3 years ago in our 911 on the way to my wife's college reunion in Virginia. It was fun. We lucked out and it was nice weather, and not much traffic. We split off to highway 28 near Tapoco, which goes to Fontana Lake/Dam. That was nice too. Almost no traffic.
    T
     
  11. Smiles

    Smiles Moderator
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    Nov 20, 2003
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    Jim @jimshadow,

    I’d suggest, starting from Indiana, to head for Cincinnati, over shoot it, and head for Huntington, WV.

    Ideally, a little bit further into West Virginia, and you can take some of the loveliest roads along the Appalachian mountains and through the Monongahela National Forest, the Jefferson National Forest, Pisgah National Forest, and the Nantahala National Forest.

    It’ll flatten out by the time you hit Georgia, but you will drive on some of the best roads in the world. There’s the right amount of elevation change and corners, but you can let your DB9 stretch its legs too. And very little traffic.

    Just stick to two lane roads and watch out for logging vehicles.

    Have fun!

    Matt
     
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  12. RedlineG60

    RedlineG60 Formula 3

    Dec 25, 2003
    1,078
    Simpsonville, SC
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    Andy Thomason
    Be careful and don’t end up like the 360 Spider I saw pictures of losing control and going up an embankment! I hope the car wasn’t too damaged and the driver’s seat wasn’t too stained!


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  13. jimshadow

    jimshadow F1 Rookie
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    Feb 19, 2006
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    Matt,

    Thank you for this. I"ve driven the DB9 from Indiana to Raleigh Durham, taking Route 35 through Ohio and WV to 64 then 40. AMAZING running through the Mountains that way. I've done it in the Panamera, the DB9 and 2 different E55AMG's. :).

    I think that I'll heed everyones advice and stay clear of the Tail of the Dragon and stick to roads like the Cherohala Skyway. I'm looking at possibly staying at Fontana Village on my 1st night...anyone have a suggestion?

    Jim
     
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  14. Irishman

    Irishman F1 Rookie

    Oct 13, 2005
    3,431
    Raleigh
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    Kevin
    I ride the Dragon at least once a year. It's a good road and I can't imagine skipping the experience. There is one place to stop on the Dragon which is at the "Overlook", which is well worth the view. As others have said there are also other great roads: Snake (US421), Cherohala, Moonshiner (NC 28), US441 through the GSMNP (heavy traffic).

    If you end up staying at Fontana Village, a great loop is to ride 28 to the Dragon (US129), then follow 129 into TN, turn left on TN72, left on US411, left on TN360, and left on TN165 (Cherohala) which becomes 143 in NC. Follow NC143 to T at NC28 then turn left on NC28 to return to Fontana Village. Tellico Plains, TN is a possible lunch spot on this loop -- when you hit TN165 turn right to go into Tellico Plains.

    Good luck and have fun!
     
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  15. jimshadow

    jimshadow F1 Rookie
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    Thanks so much for all the input everyone! The plan is to drive from Indiana, through Ohio down to Huntington WV, to Wytheville and then Bristol, VA on Day1 with a buddy following in his Boxster S. From there, Day 2 will be a full day of playing in and around the Mountains, from Diamondback 226 down to the Tail of the Dragon area. (NOT driving the dragon, but will drive other roads in the area. I'll head down south towards Sarasota late in the afternoon and my buddy will visit family before heading North. Drive updates to come. :)

    Jim
     
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  16. DreamCarrera

    DreamCarrera Formula Junior

    Oct 25, 2006
    629
    S.E. PA
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    Eric
    Enjoy the drive!!! That should be a great experience to share with your buddy.

    Looking forward to updates...post some pics and driving impressions if you get the time.
     
  17. jimshadow

    jimshadow F1 Rookie
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    Day 3 Summary.......

    Let's start at Day 1....Left Wednesday from Indiana and drove straight through to Bristol, Va. Stayed at the Bristol Hotel in downtown. My buddy followed me in his 2008 Boxster S. Took US 33 to I-75 to US35 where we ran into a HUGE accident around Xenia. Took side roads around it (added 20min) and back on US 35. Got into W. Va where the drive really began. LOVE the mountain roads. (I've taken these same roads at least 20 times down to the Raleigh/Durham area, so I know them like the back of my hand.
    Hit a another HUGE accident south of Huntington W. Va (semi went off the road and took out power lines) and luckily were able to skate around it due to an "Authorized Vehicle Only" turnaround that we took advantage of. WAZE took us on a road that paralleled the highway and we rejoined it 20 miles up. It was like a ghost town for the first 20 miles back on US64 since traffic was stopped in both directions! Eventually made it to Bristol VA where we had dinner at a local microbrew, hit up 2 others and called it a night.

    Day 2....Got up and out around 9am after a GREAT breakfast at the Blackbird Bakery in Bristol. We took US 421 to Mountain City ("The Snake"....HIGHLY Recommended route) which got the morning started. Continued on 421 to US321 up through Watauga Lake area (HIGHLY Recommended) on great roads. Worked our way to Bryson City where we had lunch at Nanthahala Brewing Co. (Again, highly recommended!). From there we continued on to Sweetwater, TN where my buddy met up with his sister. Had dinner there and then stayed in Athens, TN.

    Day 3.....DILEMMA! The entire reason for this trip was to end up in Sarasota to visit my business coach and another great friend who I haven't seen in person in 2 years. Given that there is this little thunderstorm heading towards Florida, I decided that while I could get down there at 150mph without a ticket, I might end up in a parking lot on I75 getting out. SO.....I made the gametime decision to change course and so I headed for Natchez, MS. My plan now is to get up in the AM and drive the ENTIRE Natchez Trace Parkway from Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN. (440miles @ 50mph). More updates to come! Enjoy the pics....
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  18. jimshadow

    jimshadow F1 Rookie
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    Day 4: Started from Natchez, MS around 8:30 local time. Filled up and then drove the ENTIRE length of the Natchez Trace Parkway today. Ended in Nashville and drove up to Bowling Green to grab a hotel. More driving tomorrow. :) More pics in the meantime.
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  19. Smiles

    Smiles Moderator
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    Nice, Jim!

    Thanks for sharing.

    Matt
     
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  20. chipbiii

    chipbiii F1 Veteran
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    Mar 26, 2008
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    :D:D:D:D:D
    Beautiful photos and scenery. However, after a half hour on winding mountain roads (like the ones on our Ferrari club Asheville event), my wife and I miss the smooth straight interstate roads headed toward the Florida Keys. :D
     
  21. jimshadow

    jimshadow F1 Rookie
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  22. DreamCarrera

    DreamCarrera Formula Junior

    Oct 25, 2006
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    Eric
  23. jimshadow

    jimshadow F1 Rookie
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    Yes, they were taken by photographers on the Tail of the Dragon! I have one more, but I keep getting a "Security Error". Not sure why I can't get it to load.
     

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