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Road Trip to Drive the Dragon!

Front view of a car on a steep winding road
Challenge me the Dragon!

We headed out for a 2,100 mile long road trip to visit some of the South’s most iconic roads. If you don’t know already, Tennessee and North Carolina are home to some of the very best mountain roads in the world.

We drove four famous routes:

Tail of the Dragon (US 129)

The Rattler (NC-209)

Cherohala Skyway (Route 165 and NC-143)

The Devil’s Whip (NC-80)

View from the rear of a car driving up a winding road
Northbound on the Dragon

These roads have earned their reputation as both very challenging and hilariously fun to drive. The Tail of the Dragon alone offers up 318 curves in 11 miles! Just watch for bears on the road…black bears live here and we ran up on one while heading northbound.

These roads are also not for the feint at heart. These are public roads, and they exact stiff penalties for missing your driving line. Do. Not. Cross. The Double Yellow Line!

On the Tail of the Dragon you can visit Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort and pay your respects to the “Tree of Shame.” Crash on the Dragon, and it keeps a piece of your ride…

A tree with car and motorcycle parts nailed to it
The Tree of Shame

The Rattler is so infamous that you pass along two towns, one named Luck and the other Trust. I’m not even making that up…NC-209 is no joke. If Slipknot was a road, it would be The Rattler.


We approached The Devil’s Whip from the north, which meant climbing over 5,000 feet up the eastern side of Mt. Mitchell and then hauling the mail down it!

The Devil’s Whip was Dr. John’s personal favorite – 12 miles with 160 curves and the very best road camber you’ve ever seen!


The Southern Appalachian mountains provide awe-inspiring views as you drive through:

Whether you are on one of the famously named routes or simply taking a back road, driving through this part of the country is a joy.

QUICK TIP: On your way to Tellico Plains, take “the long way” and drive TN-360 to warm up for the Cherohala Skyway. Such a fun road!


After a few days of tackling the mountain roads, our driver had to head east to visit some colleges. Besides, we cracked a rotor somewhere between the Dragon and the Devil’s Whip…we were not exactly casually cruising these roads. So, with over 1,000 miles still left on our trip it was time to look after the car.

Young man checking oil level on a car
Checking vitals on The Grey

Our View: If you are going to go visit colleges, you may as well...

(a) make it an adventure


(b) take the road less traveled


We hope you join us next time. Let’s make our next road trip a caravan!

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