Attractions Near The Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap
Apr 04, 2016
An 11-mile road with 318 curves, the Tail of the Dragon is the number-one motorcycle and sports car highway in the country. Formally known as US 129, the route does not feature a single driveway or intersecting road, and is bordered by the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cherokee National Forest. A must-do for any motorcycle or sports car enthusiast, turns are tight, and the surrounding area offers much in regards to recreation and things to do.
Let’s look at some of the many awesome attractions to explore around the Tail of the Dragon:
Snowbird Backcountry Area
Comprised of more than 10,000 acres, the Snowbird Backcountry Area is a favorite for fishing, hunting, and primitive camping. The hiding place for Cherokee who refused to move westward via the Trail of Tears in 1836, it still features some of the best native trout fishing in the U.S. The Big Snowbird Creek is where you’ll find the trout, while the Big Snowbird Trail ascends 2,600 feet along the creek. It includes several stunning waterfalls, including Big Falls, Middle Falls, and Upper Falls. There’s also the Sassafras Creek Trail with its Sassafras Falls, however this trail is not well-maintained.
Nantahala National Forest
A forest featuring deep gorges and valleys, “Nantahala” means “land of the midday sun.” Indeed, these valleys and gorges receive full illumination when the sun is at its peak. Biking and hiking trails include the Tsali Recreation Area and Santeetlah Bike Trail. There’s also waterfalls nearby, as well as the virgin hardwood forest of Joyce Kilmer and Slickrock Area, and sections of the Appalachian Trail among other trails.
Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest
Named for the poet Joyce Kilmer, this forest is easily one of the most beautiful in the country. Featuring 3,800 pristine acres, the forest includes towering, 125-foot poplars over 20 feet in circumference. Huge hemlock and red oak trees are also found here among other species. Relatively isolated for years, the area is now a favorite for hikers and nature lovers.
Cherokee National Forest
Hailed as a another fantastic destination for outdoor recreation, the Cherokee National Forest features 15 recreation zones, including Watauga Lake and Big Frog Mountain. Opportunities for biking, hiking, horseback riding, camping, fishing, and hunting abound, with other activities including gold panning, scenic driving, boating, swimming, and tubing among many others. There’s also plenty of spectacular views of the natural world.
The Smoky Mountain National Park is near the Tail of the Dragon as well. Enjoy riding or driving this iconic road with friends and family!