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Old 03-18-2018, 06:43 PM   #1
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US-129, The Dragon

Weird things you stumble across when traveling.

I’m spending a couple of weeks in Asheville, North Carolina for some professional training. We don’t have classes over the weekend, so I rented a car and did some exploring. I went to the Nantahala National Forest and walked a bit on the Appalachian Trail. Then I started following some of the old TVA projects. Being a hydrologist, I find these projects fascinating, and I can’t help but chase hydrologic messes. I started up US-129 because it looked like a good way to make a big loop and head back to Asheville.
I noticed a couple of dragon statues at some motels at the base of the hill, but odd things at motels are not uncommon, so I didn’t think much about it. As I drove up the hill I noticed it was quite windey, and I made a mental note that this would not be a good road to drag the Airstream over. As I further ascended the hill, I kept passing people on the side of the road taking my picture. Now that was weird. Nobody except my mother has ever wanted to take my picture, I’m not that purty. So finally I stopped at one of these photographers and asked “why are y’all taking my picture”. He was a good-ol-boy, and looked at me like I was an idiot, and said “cuz your on the the dragon”. I respond with a resounding “huh”? He starts to explain to me that this was the most famous road in the U.S. They call it the “Tail of the Dragon”, and people come from all over the world to drive it. He said that sometimes they get a thousand Corvettes a day, and I was fortunate that it was a slow day. So I continued on my way, and later that night I found my picture on the internet. That’s rather embarrassing to have my picture on the internet in a POS rental Hyundai.
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Old 03-18-2018, 07:06 PM   #2
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I rode my Harley Sportster on the 129. What a kick! Wouldn't want to tow the 27FB over it!
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Old 03-18-2018, 07:09 PM   #3
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https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/11...g?v=1453325957
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Old 03-18-2018, 07:09 PM   #4
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What you failed to convey; this is NOT a road for RVs! Trailers over 30' are banned by law.

The twisty "Tail of the Dragon" is 318 turns in 11 miles and known for the innumerable wrecks by drivers testing their amateur skills at professional only speeds (illegal of course).

www.tailofthedragon.com
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Old 03-18-2018, 07:37 PM   #5
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I have Traversed the Dragon dozens of times on my BMW K1200LT and in my Mazda Miata. Fantastic drive. Better than all of the great rides I did in Bavaria, W. Germany, Austria, and Italy while in the U.S. Army. Glad I now live just 2 hours away. U.S. 129 "The Tail of the Dragon". Fantastic!
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Old 03-18-2018, 07:48 PM   #6
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Tailing the Dragon was fun in my C6.
Not so much for an Airstream...
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Old 03-18-2018, 08:22 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Thalweg View Post
Weird things you stumble across when traveling.

So I continued on my way, and later that night I found my picture on the internet. That’s rather embarrassing to have my picture on the internet in a POS rental Hyundai.
So you don't post the link? :-(
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Old 03-18-2018, 08:31 PM   #8
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So you don't post the link? :-(
Hiding in my anonymty.
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Old 03-18-2018, 08:42 PM   #9
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The dragon shall not be meddled with.... for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup!
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Old 03-18-2018, 08:52 PM   #10
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A motorcyclists heaven and dream road.

9x on that road, 2x at night.

If you ride a motorcycle it is WORTH the trip to go and ride it.
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Old 03-18-2018, 08:59 PM   #11
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Have ridden the Dragon many times on my GoldWings. There was a chap on a Gold Wing that did an Iron Butt just on that road (1,000 miles in less then 24 hours). His videos would astonish a casual rider as the pegs are nearly worn off in short order.
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Old 03-18-2018, 09:31 PM   #12
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I drove the Dragon last year in my Vette. Very disappointed. I heard so much about it but there is way too much traffic on it to really appreciate it. Caught up with a looky loo and he never pulled over.

There are much better roads out west with no one on them to get in the way.

But I'm sure its the best in the east.
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Old 03-19-2018, 06:39 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Thalweg View Post
Weird things you stumble across when traveling.

I’m spending a couple of weeks in Asheville, North Carolina for some professional training. We don’t have classes over the weekend, so I rented a car and did some exploring. I went to the Nantahala National Forest and walked a bit on the Appalachian Trail. Then I started following some of the old TVA projects. Being a hydrologist, I find these projects fascinating, and I can’t help but chase hydrologic messes. I started up US-129 because it looked like a good way to make a big loop and head back to Asheville.
I noticed a couple of dragon statues at some motels at the base of the hill, but odd things at motels are not uncommon, so I didn’t think much about it. As I drove up the hill I noticed it was quite windey, and I made a mental note that this would not be a good road to drag the Airstream over. As I further ascended the hill, I kept passing people on the side of the road taking my picture. Now that was weird. Nobody except my mother has ever wanted to take my picture, I’m not that purty. So finally I stopped at one of these photographers and asked “why are y’all taking my picture”. He was a good-ol-boy, and looked at me like I was an idiot, and said “cuz your on the the dragon”. I respond with a resounding “huh”? He starts to explain to me that this was the most famous road in the U.S. They call it the “Tail of the Dragon”, and people come from all over the world to drive it. He said that sometimes they get a thousand Corvettes a day, and I was fortunate that it was a slow day. So I continued on my way, and later that night I found my picture on the internet. That’s rather embarrassing to have my picture on the internet in a POS rental Hyundai.
Hi Brent!

We stumbled on the Tail of the Dragon years ago, Doug driving, and it was quite the initial experience.

Our avatar picture was purchased online from one of those photographers.

I then drove it myself, by accident, a couple of years ago.

Lots of motorcycles on there, sounding like a swarm of angry bees.

Not for the faint of heart and not for trailers.

Safe travels, and hope Connie is doing well.

Maggie
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Old 03-19-2018, 07:44 AM   #14
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The dragon shall not be meddled with.... for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup!
Hey! That's my line!
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Old 03-19-2018, 07:58 AM   #15
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A motorcyclists heaven and dream road.

9x on that road, 2x at night.

If you ride a motorcycle it is WORTH the trip to go and ride it.
I've ridden it many times on motorcycles. The last time I was there, we stayed at Ironhorse hotel, on the North Carolina side. I got up really early to head back to St Louis, and had to ride it in pitch black darkness. No moon, etc. i didn't think it was nearly as fun! Lots of 1st gear.
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Old 03-19-2018, 08:00 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by kbmwrs View Post
I drove the Dragon last year in my Vette. Very disappointed. I heard so much about it but there is way too much traffic on it to really appreciate it. Caught up with a looky loo and he never pulled over.

There are much better roads out west with no one on them to get in the way.

But I'm sure its the best in the east.
It not even the best in the area. It's always pretty crowded, which takes a lot of the fun out of it. There's a lot of better roads around there. I hope you got to drive a few of them.

There's lots of pictures of guys with trailers that tried to drive through there, and couldn't make a turn. They always end up closing the road in both directions while tow trucks try and get them out.
To the OP, did you stop at the dam on the TN side. I believe it's the dam that Harrison Ford "supposedly" jumped off in filming the fugitive.
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Old 03-19-2018, 08:22 AM   #17
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Have driven the Dragon several time. First was in a 1998 Ford F-150 crew cab long bed. There were a couple times in a couple of the turns, that I had one wheel just hanging in the air. A number of years back the TN police decided to slow the motorcycles down by spreading sand in the corners. After a number of wrecks, they had to go back and clean up the mess. I have seen large groups of Corvettes, Miatas, and motorcycles making runs up and down it.
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Old 03-19-2018, 10:04 AM   #18
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They call it the “Tail of the Dragon”, and people come from all over the world to drive it.
It's famous for motorcycles. It's also very dangerous. There's 317 turns in 11 miles. Not only that but it goes up and down at the NC/TN border, and to make it worse, there's trees right up against the asphalt.
Don't do it on the weekends when Johnny has daddy's Mercedes out for a time trial. I did it on a Tuesday, didn't meet any oncoming trucks or RV's thankfully.
I did it on a Harley, and I think they timed me on a sundial.
We did it a few times and I probably won't go back. Crossed it off my bucket list.
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Old 03-19-2018, 11:23 AM   #19
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To the OP, did you stop at the dam on the TN side. I believe it's the dam that Harrison Ford "supposedly" jumped off in filming the fugitive.
Yes, I was there to chase the dams. I'm a hydro-geek. I've read about the the Tennessee Valley projects for many years, first in history classes, then in hydrology classes. That stuff fascinates me. The road was purely an accident that I picked by looking at a map.

Maggie, good to hear from you. Connie is doing very well. I wish she could have come out here with me. Touring this area without her seemed wrong. I really wanted to share it with her. However, she'd be super bored while I'm in class all week. Sometimes these classes are going from 8:00 AM to nearly midnight. I suspect that would make her grouchy.
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Old 03-19-2018, 06:54 PM   #20
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My garmin took us there going to Georgia mountain fairgrounds in my F150 super crew with our 28 footer in tow. Felt bad I was in the way but made it through. Needless to say we used a map and local knowledge on the northbound trip!
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