2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel: A Pilgrimage to the Tail of the Dragon
August 25, 2015
Nearly a decade ago, I made my first excursion to the Tail of the Dragon. It was a point of pride for me to take a cross-country journey at some point in my life and the Dragon afforded the perfect opportunity. My air-conditioning broke in North Carolina on that trip and I traveled another 2,200 miles without A/C in the middle of August, but it wasn't enough to scare me off a second visit the following year.
I took a break from the Dragon over the last few years, crediting car troubles, cost, and time restraints for keeping me away, but this year the call to return was too loud to ignore. I've catalogued in previous updates the experience towing to and from the Dragon with our long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, but I'd like to talk about the road itself.
With "318 curves in 11 miles" and dozens of excellent adjacent highways, this motoring destination shows up on pretty much every "Best Driving Roads in America" list. That's no mistake. The Dragon really is a mecca for car and motorcycle enthusiasts in North America.
Photo Credit: Killboy.com
The road can be dangerous if you aren't paying attention or if you're driving beyond your limits, but that's true of any road really. For the most part, it's just a great place to get out and drive. Turns roll and bend and rise and fall. Green valleys and crystal-clear rivers pop in and out of view in the valley that surrounds the Dragon and cell phone signal is limited at best. As an escape from the traffic lights and texting-motorists of the city, it's hard to beat.
Photo Credit: Manda Hacks
Solo riders, families, small groups and massive car clubs all make the pilgrimage. There are license plates from all over the country and tourism supports dozens of industries in the area.
There are big resorts, tiny-biker hotels, fantastic barbecue joints tucked away in the mountains and funky local stores with weird Dragon-themed merchandise. There are a dozen photographers that will document your trip and plenty of Tennessee Highway Patrol officers eager to make your acquaintance.
When you've had enough of Highway 129, there are local attractions galore. There are national parks to explore, waterfalls to jump off of, rivers to raft and trains to ride. I could spend a month in the Great Smoky Mountains and never get tired of the scenery.
This excellent series of highways, tourist attractions and natural wonders sits in a picturesque landscape that is worthy of any gearhead's bucket list. If you've ever smiled from behind the wheel of a car because you were enjoying the drive, don't miss the Tail of the Dragon. Go there, stay in your lane, enjoy the journey, and come back often.
Travis Langness, Social Media Editor