Volkswagen Beetle, Tail of Dragon

Chasing the Tail of the Dragon, VW Beetle Style

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The Tail of the Dragon is a portion of US 129, located on the North Carolina / Tennessee border. Its claim to fame is its America's number one motorcycle and sports car road, with 318 curves in 11 miles. This stretch of road has some of the sharpest curves have names like Copperhead Corner, Hog Pen Bend, Wheelie Hell, Shade Tree Corner, Mud Corner, Sunset Corner, Gravity Cavity, Beginner's End, and Brake or Bust Bend.

Deals Gap is a popular and internationally famous destination for motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts, as it is located along a stretch of two-lane road known since 1981 as ‘The Dragon’.

The road earned its name from its curves said to resemble a dragon's tail. The stretch bears the street name "Tapoco Road" in North Carolina and "Calderwood Highway" in Tennessee and is signed entirely by U.S. 129. State Route 115, also included on maps, is the name used by TDOT for highway contracts.

  • What: Tail of the Dragon (TOD) at Deals Gap, North Carolina
  • Where: Bryson City North Carolina
  • When: May 2-4, 2014

Since part of the road serves as the southwestern border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there’s absolutely no development along its 11-mile stretch, reducing or eliminating the danger of vehicles pulling out into the right of way. The road travels mostly through a forested area, including several scenic overlooks and pull-off points along the route.

The Tail of the Dragon VW Beetle Cruise, which began in 2008, is an event strictly for water-cooled Beetles, which include the New Beetle (1998-2010) and current-generation models (2012-2014). Sorry, no air-coolers or non-Beetle V-dubs here. The event, held during the first weekend of May, has grown expeditiously in size every since. This years’ event is scheduled for May 2th-4th.

Nearby Cherohala Skyway is quickly becoming number two with its remote 60 miles of scenic mountain highway. The area also has other incredible roads like the Moonshiner 28, Devils Triangle, the Diamondback, Six Gap North Georgia, the Snake and Great Forest Service Dual Sport Riding. The road was also used as a back drop for a scene in the movie “The Fugitive” starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones.

Prior to 1992, the speed limit on the Dragon was 55 mph; with increased traffic it was reduced to 30 mph in 2005. The presence of law enforcement, especially on the Tennessee portion of the road, has dramatically increased over the years. It’s in one’s best interest to observe all traffic laws, avoiding a trip to the local JP to pay the fine in person. There are no exceptions!

The 2014 Tail of the Dragon "Six for Six" is expected to be an Epic gathering of Beetle owners and enthusiasts. The meet-up point is Bryson City North Carolina, The 3-day event begins with Friday check-in, along with a meet and greet, followed by ‘Pizza Fest’.

Saturday starts the actual ‘Dragon’ cruise; a day-long journey consisting of the Cherohala Skyway, followed by driving the tail of the dragon. The day concludes with dinner at the BBQ Wagon, fondly named by attendees as the ‘neon pig’.


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Great article Bill, hope to see you both there in a few weeks.