US Highway 129 “The Dragon”

“U.S. Route 129 (US 129) is an auxiliary route of US 29, which it intersects in Athens, Georgia. US 129 currently runs for 582 miles (937 km) from an intersection with US 19/US 27 ALT/US 98 in Chiefland, Florida, to an interchange with Interstate 40 (I-40) in Knoxville, Tennessee. It passes through the states of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. It goes through the cities of Macon, Athens, Gainesville, and Knoxville.

The section that is located on the North Carolina–Tennessee state line is known as the “The Dragon”, a popular motorcycle and sports car destination. This name is apparently derived from the roadway’s resemblance to a dragon’s tail. This segment runs from Tab Cat Creek to Deals Gap and has 318 curves in only 11 miles.

The area is remote. Cell phone service is for the most part non-existent. Visitors to The Dragon who experience a medical emergency may experience wait times of up to an hour before medical help arrives. To render help more quickly, the Blount County Rescue Squad posts a quick response rescue vehicle directly on The Dragon every Saturday and Sunday during the months of May through October. This is in addition to our crash truck and quick response vehicle that remains in service from our Alcoa headquarters.

Our skilled teams working on The Dragon are medically certified and/or licensed, skilled in pre-hospital trauma care, rope rescue, and search & rescue. Depending on the location of the emergency, we have been able to reduce response times to ten minutes or less.


If you witness an accident on The Dragon, alert a Blount County Sheriff’s Deputy, a Tennessee State Trooper, or a member of the Rescue Squad if you are able to locate them. These emergency responders will be able to alert 911 dispatch of the accident. Otherwise, you can make your way to the Harley Davidson store at MM 18 in Tallassee, Deal’s Gap Market, or the Tail of the Dragon store just over the TN/NC border and have them call 911.

Some interesting facts about the dragon


  • Blount Memorial Hospital, Maryville TN is 54 Miles away
  • UT Hospital, Knoxville TN is 69 Miles away
  • There are two helicopter landing zones on Hwy 129. One at the Powerhouse near Calderwood Dam (Mile Marker 10), and the other in the parking area across from the Harley Davidson Store (Mile Marker 18)
  • The Speed Limit on The Dragon is 30 MPH
  • There is an average of 1,400 vehicles per day
  • There is an average of 2.5 deaths per year, and countless accidents
  • According to the Blount County Sheriff Office, there were 121 reported crashes reported for April – September 2015, resulting in 69 injuries and 0 fatalities. There were 1,210 citations written.