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wake74
wake74 Reader
6/22/24 6:41 p.m.

As part of our first no kid vacation, we are going to spend a few nights in Western NC while Jr is away at a camp at Clemson. We've booked 3 nights in Asheville, and then another 2 in Robbinsville (due East of the southern end of Tail of the Dragon). We'll be in my wife's Macan, while comfortable and well loved by her, it's lacking about 75 hp to be considered "fun". Sport mode, and manual mode with the PDK liven it up "a bit".

We'll be there mid-week. Weather is expected to be 2 degrees cooler than the temp of Hell. We rafted on the Natanhalla a few times based out of Banner Elk, we'll likely see if our marriage can survive a two person ducky (big kayak) to cool off in the afternoon for a couple of hours. Our AirBNB in Robbinsville isn't far from the rafting outfitters.

Any suggested dining spots, fun / scenic roads that are not the Dragon?  

 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Publisher
6/22/24 6:51 p.m.
wake74
wake74 Reader
6/22/24 7:08 p.m.
Tom Suddard said:

This should help: https://classicmotorsports.com/articles/5-alternatives-to-tail-of-the-dragon/

That's perfect. Thanks! I'm a bit behind in reading the latest GRM magazines (long time subscriber of both), but that should resolve itself on this trip as well :-)

 

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
6/22/24 7:14 p.m.

Right near SR60 is also SR68 and the other Six Gap area roads. You'll be exhausted before you run out of twisty mountain roads around there.

LukeGT
LukeGT New Reader
6/22/24 7:42 p.m.

Cherohala Skyway is a must, many argue better than Tail of the Dragon, certainly more scenic and not a far drive from there. I love both but also the Foothills Parkway road (which intersects the Dragon basically at one end) is an awesome road with fantastic scenery.  The area is pretty much my favorite place in the world, hope to live nearby to it one day. 

Hoppps
Hoppps Reader
6/22/24 9:27 p.m.

+1 for Cherohala Skyway

Also recommend Bat Cave Rd/old fort rd area. Not many people know about it, but it's nice scenic driving, tight and twisty road. Look it up on YouTube, it's a blast!

and if you do that road you could also stop at Chimney Rock!

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
6/23/24 12:22 a.m.

My wife is from the Waynesville/Maggie Valley area.

Once you get out of the valleys and up in the ridges, almost all of the roads that aren't highways are fun driving roads. 

ddavidv
ddavidv UltimaDork
6/23/24 7:09 a.m.

Things to know about the Dragon:

1) It's a E36 M3show most of the time. Way too much traffic. Go early in the AM if possible.

2) Police enforcement is serious. Don't speed.

3) DO NOT CROSS THE CENTER LINE

4) Note the time you run the road so you can check Killboy and the other photo sites for your picture

5) Use the pull-offs to let faster people by

Spearfishin
Spearfishin Reader
6/23/24 8:11 a.m.
ddavidv said:

Things to know about the Dragon:

1) It's a E36 M3show most of the time. Way too much traffic. Go early in the AM if possible.

2) Police enforcement is serious. Don't speed.

3) DO NOT CROSS THE CENTER LINE

4) Note the time you run the road so you can check Killboy and the other photo sites for your picture

5) Use the pull-offs to let faster people by

On Tip 2), having never been myself, it seems there's a great many clips on the 'net of folks breaking the limit without consequence, and yet your advice is also echoed by lots of folks. Are some of clips I see of folks just getting lucky? Or is the limit higher than I think?

bbbbRASS
bbbbRASS Reader
6/23/24 8:49 a.m.

All the roads are great. Don't get stuck behind rafting busses, and avoid hooning near houses. Tapoco lodge is next to the cheoah river. There may be a release which makes it the best whitewater in the SE. you shouldn't go on it, but you should drive to the lodge or bear creek falls and watch the action for an hour. 
we call the 2-person duckies "divorce boats" for a reason. Good luck!

NOC is crowded on weekends, but has very good food in their 3 different restaurants. 
Robbinsville has a great place to eat called "The Hub." It's more of a breakfast/lunch spot, also a coffee shop. 
To cool off, find some raft guides and ask them about swimming holes. 

JimS
JimS Reader
6/23/24 4:48 p.m.

Been there a number of times in a Miata, an s2k, and a 911. Speed limit is low but people drive briskly. I have never seen much enforcement. Many roads in that area  are better than dragon. 

Andy Hollis
Andy Hollis
6/24/24 5:32 a.m.

+1 on Cherohala > Dragon

Cherohala is a sweeping road course with wide views of the Smokey Mtns.

Dragon is a narrow autocross in the woods

You can make a nice loop out of both for a long morning.

Not much traffic at dawn on a weekday...but also no Killboy (no pics, didn't happen?)

ddavidv
ddavidv UltimaDork
6/24/24 6:47 a.m.

Tellicafe in Tellico Plains is a good place to eat after the Cherohala.  If Dee is working, ask her about her Ford Falcons. smiley

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/24/24 8:26 a.m.

In reply to Spearfishin :

In my experience from the couple of times I've driven the Dragon, just doing the speed limit (35 MPH, IIRC) won't be boring.  Especially when you pay attention to staying in your lane. 

A light, misting rain is arguably the best conditions, IMHO. It will keep a lot of folks away and thus traffic to a minimum and the road is designed so that you should still have decent grip and legal speeds.  And the conditions "should" give you enough pause to prevent a racer-mentality. 

The above was my experience driving my lightly modified R53 JCW with Direzza III tires (that seem to have good damp-road traction once warmed up a bit). 

One warning about the Dragon - there are so many corners in rapid succession that passengers not normally prone to motion sickness can be afflicted. 

Another +1 for the Cherohala Skyway

Just getting from A to B in the entire western NC area can be a lot of fun with a bit of planning. Using Google maps, you can often find alternative routes through the hills instead the main roads that will add a few minutes of driving time, but will be oh so much more pleasant. Especially if you get behind a local who knows the road and drives it every day.  Then you may struggle to keep them in sight. 

chknhwk
chknhwk Dork
6/24/24 8:28 a.m.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.redpixelstudios.demo.backroadsofappalachia

 

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
6/24/24 9:13 a.m.

I always like to plug Atlas Obscura for anyone looking for unusual things to do or interesting places to eat at.

https://www.atlasobscura.com/

Personally, I like to look through all the points of interest in a state, and mark them down for future reference. 

 

 

CyberEric
CyberEric SuperDork
6/24/24 12:31 p.m.

Highway 9 is my preference over old fort road. Gets you to chimney rock  from black mountain with more turns and is safer too. I live off old fort and I've seen two mustangs and one Lamborghini parked into a tree. There's no guard rail and no shoulder. Gives me the creeps and I drive it all the time.

+1 to there being hundreds of these types of roads around here.

crankwalk (Forum Supporter)
crankwalk (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
6/24/24 12:47 p.m.

Cherohala Skyway is a must when up there to do the dragon. If you hit NA GA the 180 Suches loop is excellent.

aw614
aw614 HalfDork
6/24/24 1:47 p.m.

Work had me up in Knoxville twice and during the winter off season. One trip I went down to the Dragon via Foothills parkway. I had way more fun on that road than the actual Dragon itself. Like what Andy mentioned, the dragon felt like a narrow autocross in the woods.

I still to this day roll my eyes when a friend keeps talking about the Dragon being the greatest thing in the world. 

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/24/24 2:39 p.m.

In reply to aw614 :

I tend to agree.  After some 20 years in the MINI world on the east coast, I'd heard a lot about the Dragon. And now having been there, I don't mind the idea of going back, but at the same time I don't feel the need to make going there a special trip.  The last two times I've been there was because I was in Silva with my mother to visit my aunt, which is about an hour away.  

I have vacation time to burn so I may be making a trip down there. However, there are mtn biking spots in the area so I'm debating on taking the MINI to be able to drive the Dragon or the minivan to take a bike with me... or if I do something I said I'd never do and get a bike rack for the MINI, which would give me both options. 

81cpcamaro
81cpcamaro SuperDork
6/24/24 2:40 p.m.

The Skyway is a great ride and usually has way less traffic and gets pretty high up, great scenery. 

The Hellbender 28 is pretty good as well.  Hwy 28 also goes down to SC, I have ridden 28 from Wahalla SC to the Dragon and back, very nice ride with twisty and flowing sections.

JimS
JimS Reader
6/24/24 2:52 p.m.

In reply to Andy Hollis :

Autocross in the woods. Perfect description. I just returned from the back of the dragon in Virginia. Same description. Too tight for my taste.

 

Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter)
Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
6/24/24 3:53 p.m.

We had fun on the Dragon last year in wifey's SUV:

roninsoldier83
roninsoldier83 HalfDork
6/24/24 4:08 p.m.

As usual, you folks are a wealth of knowledge!

Subscribed. 

ddavidv
ddavidv UltimaDork
6/25/24 6:27 a.m.
Ian F (Forum Supporter) said:

One warning about the Dragon - there are so many corners in rapid succession that passengers not normally prone to motion sickness can be afflicted. 

Best Dragon photo ever.

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