Tail of the Dragon closed to truckers

It's not just yourself you have to worry about. If there are more motorists driving impaired as a result of legalization, you need to, more than ever, ride vigilantly.

If you’ve ever been to the Tail of the Dragon, you know trucks are a lethal menace on that world-famous stretch of road. But, not anymore, with the state of Tennessee finally banning them from that route.

The Dragon is an extra-twisty bit of Rt. 129, connecting Tennessee and North Carolina. It’s world-famous to both motorcyclists and sports car fans, due to its legendary 318 curves in 11 miles. The view isn’t bad either. It’s a challenging road at speed, as it snakes along the mountain side, and it’s no place for a transport truck, as they easily block both lanes of traffic when navigating the tortuous road. That’s a bad thing at any time, but especially when you are riding like the guy in this video.

North Carolina came to their senses on this issue years ago, with state officials prohibiting truck traffic from taking the route. However, trucks still continued to travel the route the other direction, from Tennessee, as the signage discouraged their usage, but did not prohibit it. Thanks to GPS routing, many truckers thought the road would save them time, not realizing its danger.

Now, though, Tennessee has finally gotten around to banning transport trucks from the route. The state now prohibits vehicles longer than 30 feet from using the road. If you’ve ever used the road, you’ll know even that prohibition probably doesn’t go far enough, but at least it’s a start and should cut down on the danger posed by big rigs.


  1. The issue with US 129 is that if you are in Knoxville and your destination is points south or vice versa, it is a long detour to take Interstate 40 on the east side of the Smoky Mountains, or 75 through Chattanooga. US 129 looks like the shortest route on the map. In europe there is almost always a motorway that is a better or shorter truck route, so there is not a temptation to use the small local roads.

    And the Deals Gap road is different from the alpine pass roads. The alpine passes often have consecutive hairpins and short straights, and the hairpins are so tight that no one is moving fast there – you can easily see that there is a bus or truck turning in the hairpin.

    • yes there are like you describe but there also roads like deals gap, and there are roads with sheep, and cows, and pigs, and poo, and bicycles… lots of bicycles and roller skier things, and people with wheels strapped to their bodies and or course buses and trucks and all with blind turns and yet people somehow manage

      • There are – in places like Bolivia. And people die in those places.

        “North American drivers” has nothing to do with the fact that when a vehicle cuts across both lanes and your only option is going over a cliff, or into a cliff, bad times are coming.

  2. Apparently you haven’t ridden or driven this road. It is physically impossible to maintain your lane in a vehicle over 30 foot long. Any large vehicle on this road will generally block both lanes several times in the 11 miles. If you have the misfortune to meet one of these vehicles, you have no choice but to stop. Unfortunately, given the speeds riders/drivers often travel, stopping is very difficult, if not impossible. It has nothing to do with “North American” drivers, it’s just the nature of the road and it’s use as a playground for riders and drivers. It’s hard to imagine many truckers who find themselves on this road by mistake, it’s too well known; but with the new restrictions, it should limit those who do find it by “mistake”.

    • apparently you’ve never ridden in the Alps where a bus or truck in your lane is not un common. If you are driving so fast you can not stop you need to slow down, you are not in control. ” it has nothing to do with North American drivers, it’s just the nature of the road and it’s use a playground for riders and drivers” huh? So it’s not the drivers…. but it’s the drivers.

  3. They don’t ban trucks or buses from mountain passes in Europe and they seem to be able to handle it, so what Tennessee’s problem? oh yea North American drivers.

    • Having ridden the Dragon, I can tell you there is physically not enough room/visibility on that road for transport trucks. Cube vans are pushing it. In fact, when I did it, I think I saw North Carolina cops pull over a cube van for that reason.

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