318 Curves in 11 Miles
They call it Tail of the Dragon — a treacherous twisting road squiggled into the hills and hollows of the Great Smoky Mountains. “The Dragon” famously squeezes 318 wheel-whipping curves into 11 magic miles. This legendary stretch of US 129 on the Tennessee/North Carolina border attracts drivers from all over the world.
Hollywood has come calling for decades. Scenes from Thunder Road, Two Lane Blacktop and The Fugitive with Harrison Ford were filmed there. The Dragon is always ready for her close-up, Mr. DeMille.
She’s also a merciless killer. More than 24 lives have been lost to accidents on the Dragon since 2000 according to a TV show called “Hell Roads.” This area is as remote as it is wild. Forget about cell service. If you wrap yourself around a tree, the nearest hospital is an hour and a half away.
On summer weekends, the din of superbikes and turbocharged sports cars echo through the hills. Give it the gas. Brake. Accelerate hard. Brake for the next curve. Repeat 318 times. Doesn’t this plot seem scripted for an electric car? An EV’s low center of gravity, instant torque and regenerative braking is perfect for riding the Tail of the Dragon.
But how to get there. Is there a place to charge?
Destination Charging in the Mountains
The Dragon is located between Asheville, NC and Knoxville, TN. Both cities have Tesla Superchargers and DC Fast Charging. The route has several electric vehicle charging stations in the vicinity. If you plan ahead, it’s possible to drive out there, slay the Dragon and recharge enough to return to civilization. We’ve done it twice in a Tesla Model S 70D. One of those trips was in mid-winter.
The Tail of the Dragon Shack at Deals Gap has a Tesla Wall Connector and a J1772 available for the public. The store is open March through October. The lot is gated when the store is closed. These EV charging stations were installed as part of the Green Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains project by the Black Bear Solar Institute.
Destination charging for guests are located at Tapoco Lodge near Deals Gap. They have three Tesla Wall Connectors at 80A and one J1772 at 48A. Snowbird Mountain Lodge near the eastern end of the Cherohala Skyway has two 80A Tesla Wall Connectors and two J1772 stations at 48A. Of course, you should always call first to confirm at any of these locations. Click below for an interactive map of the routes and facilities in the area.
Tail of the Dragon/Cherohala Skyway Loop
Tail of the Dragon is acclaimed as one of the best drives in America. It should be on every driving enthusiast’s bucket list. Combine it with the beautiful Cherohala Skyway to make a loop. Arrange an overnight stay at one of the accommodations with destination charging for an incredible electric road trip.
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