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As the title says, i'm headed to the dragon July 5-July 12. I'm travelling from St. Louis down through Memphis and across Southern Tennesse, Northern Mississippi, Northern Alabama to the mountains, and then my return trip back through the Northern parts of Tennessee through Nashville and back. What are some can't miss things that I should have on my agenda? Seems like so much to do around that area, just want to make sure I hit all of the musts!!

Thanks for the help!
 

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Mississippi Cajun
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Cherahoula Skyway and the Dragon to be sure. Go east to Bryson City and on to Cherokee, across the Smokies and on the east side of Gatlinburg is a little side trip called Roaring Fork...a trip back in time before there were people up there. And of course, there's Blue Ridge Pkwy. That ought to keep you busy for a day or 2.
 

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I agree with the Cherohala Skyway from Tellico Plains, TN, to Robbinsville, NC. Then its a short ride to the Dragon. All of that area will be busy in July.
 

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Fontana Dam is a quick stop on 28, not far from the Dragon. It is where they filmed the scene in The Fugitive where Harrison Ford jumps from the dam. Also, the Appalachin Trail runs right across the top of the dam.

Also, if it's raining, there is a pretty cool open air train ride from Bryson City down the Nanthala Gorge and back. In addition, taking a rafting trip on the Nanathala is always a blast if you're wanting a distraction from some of the best riding in the world!!

Boy, I am glad I live in Atlanta and get that anytime I want.
 

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Strat I'm the lucky dog, lol. I live within 45 miles of the Dragon. I try to ride up a couple times a month at least just to get a burger at the store.

BigBlue, I'd think about catching a ride on the Natchez Trace out of Columbia, TN if you get near it. Beautiful scenery and a slower pace.
 

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Smokey Mountain H-D has some good maps of the rides. Foothills Pkwy is another nice ride really close to the Dragon.

If you take a raft trip on the Nantahala (River of the Noon Day Sun,) tell the wife to dress warm. The water is cold year round.

 

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take the time to go to "wheels in time" museum in Maggie valley... well worth the trip .. there last week.. its very easy to spend a week riding and re-riding the roads in that area.. just sayin
 

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Flat Land Redneck
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Sounds like a great trip. Hope you have a blast. What would be considered off season for the Dragon? Other than the dead of winter, when they have snow and ice. I've often thought about going, but I have a really hard time dealing with crowds. :)
 

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In my opinion as a "Southern" motorcycle rider, off season is between school opening and the leaves turning color. Then Spring when temps. suit you, until mid June. Spring is my favorite, but the weather can change so quickly. I was in the Smokies the first week in May. At lower elevations, all flowers and trees were in bloom and leafed out, and at highest elevations, the trees were still bare. Temps were low 40's mornings to mid 70's afternoons.
 

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King Frog
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There are too many great roads in that area to ride where your life does not depend on the "skills" of idiots testing their limits. I rode to the rock store years ago in SoCal. Crazy stupid people. Its not me I worry about. The Dragon does not hold any awe for this guy and I live near there.
 

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There are too many great roads in that area to ride where your life does not depend on the "skills" of idiots testing their limits. I rode to the rock store years ago in SoCal. Crazy stupid people. Its not me I worry about. The Dragon does not hold any awe for this guy and I live near there.
Yeah. That stretch of road by the Rock Store is a sh!tshow. But there are so many AWESOME roads around SoCal that you never have to go near it and you'll still find plenty of really great riding. Most of it better than that little stretch near the Rock Store.

Incidentally, there's a little roadhouse just about a mile away from the Rock Store that actually has some of the best food in L.A. and a good selection of microbrews and small batch beer. Not like that crap they serve to the tourists at the Rock Store!

Sent from Motorcycle.com Free App
 

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There are too many great roads in that area to ride where your life does not depend on the "skills" of idiots testing their limits. I rode to the rock store years ago in SoCal. Crazy stupid people. Its not me I worry about. The Dragon does not hold any awe for this guy and I live near there.
I grew up in East Tennessee. I went across 129 more times than I can count before I ever heard of it being called "The Tail of The Dragon." I've even pulled a boat across it.

These days, I wouldn't drive across it in the summer without being in an Abrams. You couldn't pay me to ride it. There are WAY too many power rangers and thrill seekers up there these days. You can die doing everything right.

My buddies who still live down there say there's way too many LEOs around there these days anyway.

As has been said, riding in the Smokies is amazing. There's tons of great places to ride. I just don't think that stretch of 129 is one of them anymore.

To the OP, if you can, have lunch or dinner at the Old Mill in Pigeon Forge. It will be the highlight of your trip!!!
 

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Chas, I started riding 129 back in the early 80s when it was a busy day if you saw 30 motorcycles. Of course back then the store wasn't open and you had to hit Robbinsville for snacks or gas. I'm on the Dragon as a general rule 3-4 times a month nowadays. I'll ride up to the store for a burger and ride home. I'll waste typically 3 hours on that ride. I live just north of Knoxville. I tend to make my runs mid-week so it's not quite as busy. I rarely see LEOs except for mid-summer.

Holidays are definitely times to avoid the place. I can almost guarantee there will be 300-500 bikes in the parking lot around 4th of July.

You're right, there are PLENTY of great roads in the area but I've not written 129 off that list. I just pick my times.
 

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I rode the dragon today. We had a car behind us, let him go around and got passed by only one ******* on a sportbike. There was a pretty decent crowd at the store but the road was fairly sparse. We saw zero LEO'S.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Just wanted to give an update to my trip to the Dragon and the Smoky Mountains. We had a wonderful trip and an even better ride. It was my wife's first time on a long trip with me and she was awesome. We stayed at The Lodge at Tellico, which I highly recommend, and it's at the start of the the Cherohala Skyway. What a ride that is. Absolutely my favorite road during the entire trip. The dragon was nice actually. I had no one behind me for the first 9 miles. Stopped at the overlook for about 20 minutes and when we got back on I had one car behind me. The road is an extremely fun ride and not challenging unless you run into the idiots as described on other posts. I thankfully didn't have to deal with any of them. Ended up riding Cades Cove another day and thoroughly enjoyed that ride as well, so thanks for the tip! Probably could've spent another week there and found new rides each day, but for this trip, I ran out of time. Thanks for the help and the tips. We had an absolute blast.
 

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Guitarslinger
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FYI for anyone thinking of headed to the Dragon. I copied this off their FB page

"Beginning Thursday, July 18, 2013, US 129 (The Dragon) at Mile 9.5 will be reduced to one lane controlled by a temporary traffic signal as crews begin rock slide slope stabilization. This project is estimated to be complete on or before August 31, 2013. This will not close the Dragon and traffic on the rest of the roadway will not be affected."
 

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FYI for anyone thinking of headed to the Dragon. I copied this off their FB page

"Beginning Thursday, July 18, 2013, US 129 (The Dragon) at Mile 9.5 will be reduced to one lane controlled by a temporary traffic signal as crews begin rock slide slope stabilization. This project is estimated to be complete on or before August 31, 2013. This will not close the Dragon and traffic on the rest of the roadway will not be affected."
While this will be an inconvenience it's better than the shut down we had the last couple years. I'll try to give a report if I can get up there this weekend.
 
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