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USAF Ret Security Police
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So a buddy and I are planning a trip next year to the Dragon and surrounding area for my 50th B'day. We will be trailering the bikes since it is quite a ways from North Dakota and plan on riding 3-4 days then heading back. Have researched until blue in the face but since coming from the great white north would like input as to when would be a good time of the year to see the beauty and not have to fight the major crowds. Would like to do the Dragon, Blueridge Parkway, and Chehola Skyway (sp) and others if time allows. Have already contacted two places in Robbinsville NC and they recommend making reservations no later than 3-4 months in advance. Any and all ideas appreciated. Thanks.
 

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Really OLD FART Member
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Mid April to Early May (Spring) and Late September to mid October (Fall).

In the Spring, it WILL be cold on the BRP and Cherohalla Skyway (about 20 degrees lower than the surrounding valleys that hold the towns) due to their elevation AND the distinct difference in height they have over the surrounding area, but worth it for the vistas...especially on the Skyway, in the Spring. This cold is very distinct in the mornings, but getting up on the Skyway to watch the ground hugging clouds burn off below you is spectacular!

Spring also means landslides may NOT have all been cleared on the BRP and certain other roads that have rock over-hangs, plus post winter road repairs that can close off long stretches of the BRP well into July and even August.

There is lingering warmth in the Fall and the changing colors at different elevations can make for wonderful photos and memories.

Anytime from June to October could be "ruined" if an Atlantic hurricane blows by - even if it fails to make landfall.

Check on perhaps staying somewhere in Waynesville, Tellico Plains (TN side of the Skyway), Franklin, or even Brevard. Just getting in and out of those areas make for spectacular rides.

As for planning rides, it's hard to go wrong just riding around blind, but you travel MUCH slower than you think you will, so it's helpful to at least know where you might be from time to time. I suggest, if you can afford the $5 per map that you go to http://shop.americaridesmaps.com/main.sc and get #6, #7 and #12 or just email the author. He WILL reply back. Tell him Cage referred you.

Have fun.

As for riding the area you can use this in-depth posting I made on the Dragon and use the info to relate to MANY of the roads nearby: http://favoriteroads.com/favorite-road-discussions/19-dragon-riding-whys-hows.html

Whatever you do or where ever you finally go, have fun, stay safe, report back and post photos! :cheers:
 
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Took a ride this year the first week of May with some Buddies of mine.

Weather was a little cool...(read leathers most days up in the Mts.) . I would say that the first of May becase the weather is usaully not too warm and not too cold.

Crowds not bad on the Dragon --(except on weekends).


Check on Rides/Rallies going on in Maggie Valley while you are there also.

Check out the Wheels of Time Musem in Maggie Valley .
There are some really good rides besides the Dragon....Early May was beautiful...everything was green and the white water was running in the streams and creeks.

Hope you have a enjoyable ,safe TRIP! I'm already planning a return trip for me and the wife!!
:patriot::D
 

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aka "Buddha Bill"
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Cage, I really appreciate your write ups and all the info you have posted on the Dragon. I'm sure that you have save a lot of VTX'ers some costly mistakes!
 

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USAF Ret Security Police
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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the quick responses guys and I have read the write-up by yourself (Cage) and have it bookmarked. Thanks for the map link as well. Just trying to decide when to go will be the first challenge now, lol.
 

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Dragon

My bud from work and I rode over from Oklahoma in '09. We went in august thinking it would be dry. Well it was hot, and mostly dry until the remnants of a skirting hurricane came in on us. A downpour caught us right in the middle of the dragon. Talk about "pucker time"! We cut out 1 day early so no big deal , but I do see what Cage is talking about. (next time )

We had a blast! You will too. My face was sore from smiling so much thru the ride!
 

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Dragon Slayer
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Brad, I've been several times, in the spring, summer & early fall & have to say the best time is in September after Labor day, without a doubt.
 

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Brad, I've been several times, in the spring, summer & early fall & have to say the best time is in September after Labor day, without a doubt.

+1 on after Labor day.... kids back in school, hardly any vacationers. I would still avoid Saturday/Sunday, though. We rode it 2 years ago the week after Labor Day on Monday and Wednesday. Both days we practically had it to ourselves. It was my wife's first real road trip on her own ride so she was a little nervous. She handled it so well she pushed to ride it again. Now that's a riding partner! You will definitely need to be prepared for the Cherohola Skyway ride. It was 70* and sunny at the bottom. Midway thru the ride, it was in the high 40s and misting. Got to the bottom and back to sunny and warm.

Good luck and safe travels.
 

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Sarge
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If you can't do "after Labor Day" try to hit the tail on a week day. it will have traffic, but no where near as bad as a weekend!!!

Very motorcycle friendly around there, but if anyone is a picky eater, be ready to do some searching for places to eat that don't involve golden arches...Murphy, N.C. has some good resturants and places to stay. Hitting Pidgeon Forge or Gatlinburg will be pricey and is usually crowded regardless of when you go, but there are some good places to eat if you can find a parking spot.

Have fun, don't try to ride outside your comfort zone! It never hurts to let another bike pass you! First time I ran the Dragon I took my time and soaked it all in...probably let 20 bikes pass me until I got VERY comfortable with the tight turns...(feel really tight on a big cruiser at first!!!):cheers:
 

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Wife and I went in September twice now. Weather is usually good then and we have had a great time both times. We stayed in Pigeon Forge and traveled out from there and rode all the great roads. Do the Dragon on a weekday if possible weekends are crazy there!
 

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September is a perfect month for that area. Any weekends are going to be crowded. So, if you don't want to deal with that, I'd suggest going during the week.

Let me know when you're coming down and I'll show you around.
 

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No Reason To Be Serious
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If you want to ride it without much traffic, ride it at about 9am... the wild crowd ain't up yet...

:patriot:
 

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Just after labour day, week day's and early morning is what I have found is best for any of those area's.
Some of our crowd likes to go down mid August and they always seem to complain about the volumes on the roads.
I find that even in the fall time of the year, on weekends, later in the day and peak colour season will bring out the crowds and distracted drivers looking at the fall colours.

For me, I like to trailer down to the top of Shenandoah National Park near Stratsburg in Front Royal Virgina. There is a nice Hampton Inn there (the Front Royal Hampton Inn) where I stay the night and leave the truck/trailer (with their blesssing). Basically, I come back to that point, spend the night again then trailer back home to PA. The Holiday Inn and Quality Inn there won't let me leave the truck/trailer so they don't get my business. I will then bike down through the Park to the top end of the Blue Ridge Parkway and down through to the South end in the Great Smoky's. From there we will work over to the Dragon. No preference with lodgings anywhere up and down the area however there is a very nice Holiday Inn Express about 30 minutes away from the Dragon in Alcoa @ the Knoxville Airport. They list out normally at $20 to $30 a night more than their competition in the area for a night but by reminding them that their competition lists at cheaper rates a night, they have alway's matched what ever the lower rate is in the area (the last couple of years that is).
 

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I went last summer in early June and had a great time. It was rainy the day I went, so the Dragon was pretty clear (we went just after the rain cleared). It was a bit cool on some of the other mountain roads in the shade, though, so keep that in mind when packing/going out for the day. We stayed in Gatlinburg at the Microtel. They were pretty biker friendly. I'm looking to go again this year, but haven't decided on a date yet. Have fun!
 

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The guitar, not the fish!
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I got a question for the locals or anybody that's been there really....As a part of the ride to hang with Knightrook and other cafe members next month, Jenny and I are taking a week's vacation and staying in the area...We plan on riding the Dragon, BRP, Cherahola Skyway, and whatever else strikes us....Hoping to get a room at the motorcycle resort on Thursday night, then start heading back home on Friday and just take our time on the return trip....Wondering about temps in the higher elevations in mid July....We plan on taking leather jackets, sweatshirt and gloves, but wasn't planning on chaps...Should we alter that plan??...:hmm2:
 

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In mid july about the only place it may be chilly (not cold) would be across the top of the skyway (mile high ride). If temps are in the mid 80 -90 range at lower elevations (IE: the dragon - smoky mountain park - foothills parkway) the skyway is typically around 10-15 degrees cooler than those. Some of the BRP can be cool as well when you get a breeze coming up the hill at some of the edge of the mountain roads......great views though.

We went in august a few years ago and the temps in pigeon forge were in the 100+ degree range and muggy as could be.....yeah we ran to the mountains to cool off a bit and enjoy the day riding.

If you can't get a room at the resort there have been a bunch of small cabin places (family farms) pop up around in that area that don't look to bad.

www.tailofthedragon.com has a bunch of info on lodging and roads in the area of the dragon and skyway.

Dragon Slayer 129
 

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Justified Member
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I got a question for the locals or anybody that's been there really....As a part of the ride to hang with Knightrook and other cafe members next month, Jenny and I are taking a week's vacation and staying in the area...We plan on riding the Dragon, BRP, Cherahola Skyway, and whatever else strikes us....Hoping to get a room at the motorcycle resort on Thursday night, then start heading back home on Friday and just take our time on the return trip....Wondering about temps in the higher elevations in mid July....We plan on taking leather jackets, sweatshirt and gloves, but wasn't planning on chaps...Should we alter that plan??...:hmm2:
In July you can ride in a T-shirt most of the time. However, foggy mornings and late evenings do warrant a jacket sometimes, especially in the higher elevations.

So a buddy and I are planning a trip next year to the Dragon and surrounding area for my 50th B'day. We will be trailering the bikes since it is quite a ways from North Dakota and plan on riding 3-4 days then heading back. Have researched until blue in the face but since coming from the great white north would like input as to when would be a good time of the year to see the beauty and not have to fight the major crowds. Would like to do the Dragon, Blueridge Parkway, and Chehola Skyway (sp) and others if time allows. Have already contacted two places in Robbinsville NC and they recommend making reservations no later than 3-4 months in advance. Any and all ideas appreciated. Thanks.
Lodging is plentiful in this area, except on holidays. All the above mentioned write-ups are very true and informative. You should take the time to research your own interests for the area, because there is alot of ground to cover in only 3-4 days. The fall folliage is truly a sight to see, though it's usually a little cooler weather. But hey, you're from North Dakota.
 

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The guitar, not the fish!
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In mid july about the only place it may be chilly (not cold) would be across the top of the skyway (mile high ride). If temps are in the mid 80 -90 range at lower elevations (IE: the dragon - smoky mountain park - foothills parkway) the skyway is typically around 10-15 degrees cooler than those. Some of the BRP can be cool as well when you get a breeze coming up the hill at some of the edge of the mountain roads......great views though.

We went in august a few years ago and the temps in pigeon forge were in the 100+ degree range and muggy as could be.....yeah we ran to the mountains to cool off a bit and enjoy the day riding.

If you can't get a room at the resort there have been a bunch of small cabin places (family farms) pop up around in that area that don't look to bad.

www.tailofthedragon.com has a bunch of info on lodging and roads in the area of the dragon and skyway.

Dragon Slayer 129
In July you can ride in a T-shirt most of the time. However, foggy mornings and late evenings do warrant a jacket sometimes, especially in the higher elevations.


Lodging is plentiful in this area, except on holidays. All the above mentioned write-ups are very true and informative. You should take the time to research your own interests for the area, because there is alot of ground to cover in only 3-4 days. The fall folliage is truly a sight to see, though it's usually a little cooler weather. But hey, you're from North Dakota.
Thanks guys...Sounds liike we can leave the chaps here at home...:mosh:
 

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Really OLD FART Member
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Having a simple rain suit with you in the summer can cover most ill weather in the mornings, at elevation and of course if it rains. Getting soaked up in that area is NOT a joking matter.

A lot of riders have gone down due to hypothermia once they are wet.

Just saying...
 
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