The Snake offers a great driving experience

Living in the East Tennessee area, we are fortunate to have only a short distance to travel to reach The Tail of the Dragon or The Snake U.S. 421.

The Dragon is famous for its 318 curves in 11 miles and lies on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. It is famous all over the world for its twisting and turning that makes it perfect for sports cars and motorcycles. The Dragon has little to no side roads that intersect it giving the driver or rider a bit more safety than other roads around our nation. The Tail of the Dragon is an awesome road leading to Deal’s Gap and well worth the trip, but it isn’t the only game around.

In the upper northern corner of Tennessee, there is another road worthy of attention and some say it’s just as good as the Dragon. The Snake, U.S. 421 begins in Mountain City, Tenn. and crosses three mountains, one valley and consist of 489 curves over 33 miles. The Johnson County road has the look and feel of the Dragon, but many believe it to be slightly better due to the wider shoulders in many places and more asphalt in the U-turn areas. Drivers and riders may also enter it from the historic city of Bristol, Tenn.

The road twists and turns down into and out of Shady Valley and features the Shady Valley Country Store, which is a great place to rest, gas up, purchase “Official Snake Gear” and grab a bite to eat. The staff is friendly and the store itself has antiques in its showcases to view as well as rocking chairs on the porch taking visitors back to a slower time period.

Safety is the main concern and it is recommended that the driver or the rider stays in their lane and never straighten a corner out or ride on the yellow lines. When driven properly both roads are thrilling and memorable. Both roads will likely have photographers placed along its route to provide drivers and riders a glimpse back on their trip for a small fee.

The fact is that riders and drivers in the East Tennessee area should feel blessed to have only a short trip to either of these roads; however, to compare and contrast these two roads would be a mistake. The roads are there to safely enjoy and both offer beautiful views along the way, so it doesn’t matter if you choose to “Slay the Dragon” or “Charm the Snake” remember to have a safe time and enjoy the ride.