The Dragon is a name that motorcyclists and sports car enthusisiasts have given to a stretch of US Highway 129 as it goes through Smokey Mountain National Park between Andrews, North Carolina and Marysville, Tennessee as it passes through Deal's Gap. Like a dragon, it snakes and curls its way through the mountains, with 318 turns in its 11 miles. To a skilled motorcyclist on a sportbike, to ride the dragon in a spirited manner is one of the most exhilarating rides there is, and is called slaying the dragon or tickling the dragon's tail. Like tickling a real (or fictional) dragon's tail, it is also an extremely dangerous pursuit, and dozens of motorcyclists each year have been burned by the dragon's fiery breath when they get too close.
A popular gathering spot is the Crossroads of Time Motorcycle Campground, where motorcyclists gather to trade war stories, lick their wounds, and contribute to the tree of shame, which is a monument to the result of venturing too close to the dragon's breath. The tree of shame consists of parts off some of the many motorcycles that have wiped out on the dragon.
Due to the large number of severe crashes, and the steady business it brings to the medivac choppers and the hospital in nearby Knoxville, Tennessee, there is a heavy police presence on weekends in the warmer months of the year, and the official speed limit on the Tennessee side of the Dragon is 30 MPH.