By Mark McNichols/J&P Cycles Inventory Manager

Mountain Roads are Heavenly Fun

So you are planning a quick motorcycle getaway, but where do you go? If you have been to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, then you already know the answer to this question. Gatlinburg is the home of Great Smoky Mountain National Park, the number one visited national park in the USA. It is located within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population east of the Mississippi River. So why go here on a motorcycle trip? Two words - mountain roads! This area has some of the best riding roads east of the Mississippi, from The Tail of the Dragon with its famous 318 curves in only 11 miles, to the beautiful scenic roads that run throughout the park and surrounding areas. If you need a getaway for the family and want to break away for a day to ride, Gatlinburg also has something for everyone. There are plenty of attractions, restaurants, shopping, etc. for the whole family to enjoy. That way you won’t feel bad about dumping the family in town for a day and enjoying a great ride.

The Tail of the Dragon is one of the few places you can get pictures taken while you are riding on some awesome roads, so check out the vendor’s websites for some good trip memories.

Just don’t end up in this picture (below). Be careful out there. This is the Tree of Shame with parts of wreckage from The Tail of the Dragon.

The Tree of Shame

There are plenty of other great routes. Below are a few of the more popular ones.

Here are a couple of tips when riding on these mountain roads.

1.       Plan your fuel stops wisely. There are plenty of gas stations around, but you need to plan your route to ensure you are filling up enough and not running out of precious freedom fuel. Reda Innovations sells a 1 gallon saddlebag gas can that is a great backup to have.

2.       Carry a motorcycle specific tool kit and the J&P Cycles Tubeless Tire Repair Kit. These are a must-have anytime you are traveling. Check out Bryan Rastok’s article on the tire repair kit that saved him while he was on a trip.

3.       Cell phone service is spotty throughout the area so downloading your maps for offline use or going with old school paper maps is a great idea to keep you on track. Butler makes a great motorcycle map of the area.

4.       If you plan on slaying the Dragon plan on a weekday if possible as weekends are much busier. Also check out the events calendar to see what traffic might be out there. Some of the events attract a large crowd.

5.       Ride at your skill level. Some of these roads are challenging, so enjoy the view at your own pace. If you are riding in a group plan a few meeting points along the way so no one tries to ride outside of their comfort level to catch up.

6.       Tennessee has a motorcycle helmet law, so make sure you always wear a helmet to be safe and lawful while you are there.

7.       Bring a camera to capture some great views while you enjoy your rest stops along the way. There are plenty of great pull-off areas throughout with awesome views.

Great places to stop:

·         Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum is only an hour and fifteen minutes of great riding from Gatlinburg.

·         Newfound Gap (above) has awesome views and is only a half mile to another great stop, Clingmans Dome.

·         Clingmans Dome  (below) is 6,643 above sea level and the highest point in Tennessee and the third-highest mountain east of the Mississippi. There are some great views here, but weather can be a factor. Remember it is called the Smoky Mountains for a reason.

·         Cades Cove is an 11-mile loop with some great scenery and wildlife viewing. This is a very slow loop and can take some time with traffic.

·         Deal’s Gap Motorcycle Resort is on the Dragon’s Tail and a must stop for some Tail of the Dragon souvenirs.

·         Cheoah Dam where they filmed a scene from The Fugitive is not far from the Dragon’s Tail.