8 of the best motorcycle rides in the Smoky Mountains

We know you must love the thrill of riding your bike, and the beauty of the Smokies.. so why not put them together! We created this article to highlight some of the best motorcycle rides in this area! So lace up your boots, strap on your helmet, throw on your jacket, and hit the road!

The Tail of the Dragon 

The Tail of the Dragon is Americas #1 road for motorcycles. This beautiful but desolate road consists of 318 curves in 11 miles. Riders start at Deals Gap, a mountain pass on the Tennessee and North Carolina state line, and winds down US 129 until it ends at the Tabcat Bridge. It takes less than an hour to travel the 11 miles of twists and turns, and provides some of the most breath-taking views in the area. 

See it on the Map!

Foothills Parkway 

The Foothills Parkway is one of the most scenic trips in East Tennessee. The start of this ride begins in Wears Valley, TN and ends in Chilhowee, TN. The whole 31 mile stretch of the Parkway takes about 50 minutes to ride. There is usually minimal traffic and there are many places to pull off and take in the gorgeous scenery.  However, you can only do half of the parkway if you choose. That end is in Walland, Tn and only takes about 30 minutes to complete.


Gatlinburg Bypass to Townsend

Do you want to ride through the Smokies but don't want to get stuck in the hustle and bustle of the Gatlinburg Traffic? The Gatlinburg bypass to Townsend is the way to go! This peaceful ride takes less than an hour and winds for 25 miles through the park. This ride starts off of US 441 heading into Gatlinburg and ends on HWY 321 in Townsend, TN. Once on the bypass you will then turn on Fighting Creek Gap Rd, and then Little River Gorge Rd, then come out on 321. The ride can then continue out through Wears Valley to come back into Pigeon Forge or out through the City of Townsend.


Cades Cove Loop 

The Cades Cove Loop is a scenic drive with many pull offs and historic buildings throughout the loop to visit. At times there is a abundance of wildlife including; deer, turkey, and bears. The loop is a total of 11 miles and can take 1-2 hours to make the complete loop. However, this is a highly trafficed area with stop and go traffic. So, it could take upwards of 3 hours to make the full loop. Cades Cove itself is beautiful, but the ride there is just as gorgeous!


Gatlinburg to Cherokee

The trip to Cherokee, NC from Gatlinburg, TN is about an hour and a half ride over the mountain via US 441. It includes beautiful mountain views that can be viewed from various pull offs along the way. Once in Cherokee you can also ride the extra 30 minutes to Bryson City, NC. There are many small shops in Cherokee, as well as nature walks and a casino for you to stretch your legs and take a break from riding!


Thunder Road

Thunder Road is one of the lesser known motorcycle rides in the area, but it's one of the most beautiful. This ride is longer than some of the others we have listed. It takes around 5 hours to complete this 140 mile loop. That is with minimal breaks and stopping. The trip will start in Maggie Valley, NC and winds through Cherokee, NC and Bryson City, NC, on through the Smokies and eventually winds back into Maggie Valley. Most of this route travels along Wayah Creek and has multiple pull offs to stop and enjoy the scenery. There isn't usually that many people that travel this route, so you can take it easy and thoroughly enjoy your trip!


Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most beautiful trips for the avid biker. The entire stretch is 469 miles in length and if you didn't take any breaks (that would be impressive!) the route would be about 11 hours long. This scenic route stretches from Cherokee, NC to Afton, VA, and links the Shenandoah National Park with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. However, there are many exits so you don't have to ride the entirety of the Parkway. Nevertheless, if you wanted to make a full trip there are many campsites along the way. It may take 5 or so days to complete the trip. 

The Smoky Mountain Loop 

Do you love the idea of riding all of these different routes? Well, the Smoky Mountain Loop is the perfect ride for you! This roughly 8 hour ride can start in Maggie Valley, NC and travels through the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Oconaluftee Visitor Center in Cherokee, NC then goes into the Tennessee Leg of the trip. Down Highway 441 into scenic Gatlinburg and you'll then go into Wears Valley, and from there into Townsend, TN. You will then exit onto the Foothills Parkway. The Foothills Parkway will then put you onto US 129, where you can continue into Tellico Plains. However, if you would like to take the Tail of The Dragon that is also a huge bonus! However, it will take a little more time. Eventually, you will wind up back in Maggie Valley for a night of rest and stories to tell! 



  Places to visit along the way


- Dales Wheels Through Time - Maggie Valley, NC  

Dales Wheels Through Time is an amazing stop for any avid biker. Just a few miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway, This museum features over 300 rare machines from years past.  


 - The Shed - Maryville, TN 

The Shed Smokehouse and Juke Joint is the perfect destination to grab a delicious BBQ diner, cold drink, and listen to some good music. The Shed is the perfect place to hang out! 


  - Deals Gap 

You've definitely heard of this one before. Deals Gap is a motorcycle resort that offers a variety of room options as well as tent camping. This is where people who dare to take on the Tail of the Dragon come to visit.  


 - Biker Rags 

Biker rags is a well-known destination in Clinton, TN. They offer a wide variety of jackets, boots, gloves, etc. They also have scheduled swap meets and day rides! 


We know you love adventure so we hope this article inspires you to hop on your bike and take a ride through the beautiful Smoky Mountains! There are many other routes to take but these are some of our favorites!  

Remember Pigeon Forge RV Resort is motorcycle friendly and only a few hours away from most of the most beautiful rides in East Tennessee!  


Remember be safe and always wear a DOT approved helmet.