I'll begin this brief disertation with the acknowledgement that many of you have already ridden 'The Dragon' and are familar with it.
But it seems to be getting a little too much bad press in this thread-zone and I just wanted to throw in my proverbial two cents.
I have traveled down to the Smokies three times in the last 2 1/2 years to enjoy the challenges of the 'Dragon.'
I make no apologies for all of the hype that accompanies this 11 mile stretch of public road, and agree - it has gotten way too busy to expect solidary enjoyment, like 'the good 'ole days.' It is almost becoming a motorcycle tourist trap.
But as an MSF RiderCoach, I revel in the skills ("High-Low-High & Slow, Look, Press and Roll") one should apply to truly negotiate these 318 curves safely in less than approx. 20 minutes.
I have 'run the Dragon' many times, both from the lake over-look south to Deal's Gap, and again from this motorcycle resort north to the over-look. Both directions involve different concentration challenges and I still think it's a riding experience not to be missed if you're new to the area.
Would I plan a vacation again specifically to ride this stretch? No. But I would and will return to this area of the country to enjoy winding roads thru impressive scenery (Blue Ridge, Foothills, Cherohala, etc.) and not hesitate to include 'The Dragon' as part of the menu.
Enjoy your time here next summer!