Motorcycle Friendly – Tapoco Lodge @ The Tail of the Dragon

Photo-Tapoco Lodge Sign

The Tapoco Lodge

The most luxurious and convenient motorcycle friendly lodging nearest the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap, the Tapoco Lodge is historic, unique, classy, and about as close to The Dragon as you can stay.

Greg McCoy from had often mentioned the fine dining at the Tapoco Lodge near the Dragon at Deals Gap, but I’d never stopped in to check it out. Honestly, it’s so close to the Tail of the Dragon, I usually blast right past it enjoying the curves on this section of US 129. This week I had the chance to pay a visit and I was impressed with what I found.


The Cheoah Dam - a.k.a. "The Fugitive" Dam, where Harrison Ford's character takes the big leap in the movie "The Fugitive".

The Tapoco Lodge was built in the 1930’s by the Alcoa Corporation which was subsequently involved in building the many power generating dams along the Tennessee River to provide power for the aluminum plants in Maryville and Knoxville, Tennessee. At one time as many as 2000 people lived in the area working both in construction of the many dams nearby and substantial timber operations in the surrounding mountains. What is now the Tapoco Lodge saw service as a hospital, theater, residential and operations headquarters for the company, and you’ll find the lodge filled and adorned with historic artifacts from this era.


The Tapoco Lodge - exclusive, luxurious, AND motorcycle friendly

Visting today, there is little evidence of the thousands of people who lived and worked here in those times past. As the many dams were completed the lakes which formed behind them submerged the roads, railroads, and small communities, and the area seems remote and isolated, pristine and natural, as if it all never happened save the dams which and lakes which remain as a legacy and still generate power.

Riding through the area you may come across the Chillowhee Dam on US 129 north of The Dragon, the Santeetlah Dam just north of Robbinsville, the Calderwood Dam viewed from the popular overlook at the Tennessee end of The Dragon, but the most impressive and notable are the Fontana Dam on NC 28 (a.k.a. The Moonshiner 28) and the Cheoah Dam just up the road from the lodge.


Visiting the historic Tapoco Lodge is like visiting a living museum!

The Fontana Dam is one of the highest and most impressive, and is a popular stop for riders in the area. The Cheoah Dam is commonly referred to as “the Fugitive Dam” as it was the structure Harrison Ford’s character in the movie “The Fugitive” jumped from (the movie was shot in the surrounding area).

As operations in the area wound down, the Tapoco Lodge property transferred to private ownership and for many years after was used as a corporate retreat center for the company and others. In 2010, it was sold to the current owners who have renovated, upgraded, and restored  the property to a glorious and historic lodge with outstanding accommodations and fine dining in an exclusive setting.

photo-tapoco-lodge-interior view

History surrounds you at the Tapoco Lodge

Unfortunately my untimely visit happened just as the Tapoco Lodge was shutting down operations for the year. I’ve not yet had the opportunity to sample the sumptuous 5 course dinner at Jasper’s Restaraunt ($44 per plate, reservations required) nor the more casual fare in served in the Slickrock Riverside Grill. I trust Greg’s recommendations the food matches the quality of the rest of the establishment.


A quick peek at Jasper's Restaurant

Nor have I had the opportunity to enjoy the luxurious rooms, though I did get the quick tour of the lodge and they are outstanding. I passed on the opportunity to see the cabins this time.


A treat in a dry county! Save me a seat.

I’m particularly interested in the very comfortable looking bar, a unique feature in the last dry county in the State of North Carolina. It looked well stocked and I noted a good variety of wines. I love having a comfy place to enjoy a libation after a hard days riding and this bar will serve the purpose well.


Spacious and comfortable rooms

I’m really looking forward to a stay at the Tapoco Lodge as it’s the ideal location for riding some of the best motorcycle rides in North Carolina and Tennessee. it’s on the popular Cherohala Skyway / Tail of the Dragon loop ride. Roll out the driveway, and you’re on the ride.


Enjoy sitting along the Cheoah River which flows beside the Tapoco Lodge

They are already booking groups for next year, it’s an ideal location for gatherings and they can accommodate a lot of people. Initially, the price of a stay seems high, but once you factor in the cost  of the 5 course dinner and cooked to order all-you-can-eat breakfast, which are included in your room cost, it works out to be an affordable way to enjoy a luxurious, convenient, and comfortable stay in the area.

You won’t find better food, you won’t find anything like it for accommodations, and you don’t have to ride to the next county to enjoy a cold brew at the end of the day.

 The Tapoco Lodge


Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

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Learn Total Control

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here –

Wayne is an advanced motorcycle instructor for Total Rider Tech teaching Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Rider Courses. It’s time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely, it will change your mountain riding experience. It worked so well for me I became an instructor! Total Rider Tech


 I’ll be adding The Tapoco Lodge to America Rides Maps Map #7 – Best Motorcycle Rides SOUTH of GSMNPMap #8 – Best Motorcycle Rides NORTH of GSMNP and map – 12 Classic Deals Gap Motorcycle Rides

Motorcycle Friendly – Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge in Deals Gap

Photo - Iron Horse Lodge Sign

Ok, so the flash washed out the sign lettering - it's really easy to see, evidently reflective, so also at night.

I found myself back in Deals Gap today making another run on The Dragon. For the first time in a long time I did not see any troopers on the road, though I behaved myself nonetheless. It was a nice day for it, hot, dry, and the road was clean making for some nice carving. Stopping at the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort, I ran into Bill Kneigge leading a group for Edelweiss Tours – that guy gets around.

Photo - The Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge

The Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge

On the way home I stopped in at the Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge near Stecoah. As I live so close, I’ve never had the need to take a campsite on my motorcycle vacation to ride the Dragon, and I’ve always ridden by in the past. It was mid afternoon and I had time to spare so I decided to check it out for myself.

Photo - Grounds at the Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge

The stream in back of the lodge building.

The turn off NC 28 is well marked and it’s easy to find the Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge on Lower Stecoah Road. First impression as you enter is the place is it’s really nice. I pulled up in front of the main building and found it to be even nicer inside. Large open comfortable roomy lodge building to hang out in. Well manicured grounds with a rushing creek through the heart of it. Everything is in top condition, looks new, and it’s a very pleasant atmosphere. I found the bathrooms clean, the showers looked nice, nothing out of place. It appears to be a very well run motorcycle resort and campground.

Photo - inside view of the Lodge building

A view of the Lodge interior. It's huge with several rooms you can group into.

Yet it’ so much more than that – there are some really nice cabins and rooms available, RV hookups, a store and cantina, and breakfast and dinner meals available for the campers with something special like prime rib on Saturday nights. I met Charlene Powell, one of the owners, and spoke to a few patrons. Everyone was very happy regardless who I ran into, even what must have been the hired help were smiling.

Photo - Check in and store at the Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge

Check in and gift store at the Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge

While I’ve not actually stayed there, I’m impressed enough from a quick visit to recommend the Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge as a good place to stay near Robbinsville and base out of to ride the Dragon or any of the hundreds and hundreds of miles of great motorcycle rides in the area. Icing on the cake was discovered when I turned left out of the driveway instead of right (back to NC 28) and enjoyed a really nice little loop ride that returns to NC 28 a couple miles north of NC 143.

Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge –
Phone: 828-479-4589

John and Charlene Powell
1755 Lower Stecoah Road
Robbinsville, NC 28771


Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer


– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here –



Motorcycle Friendly Lodging – Blue Ridge Parkway – The Switzerland Inn

Photo - View of the grounds at the Switzerland Inn

The Switzerland Inn - A beautiful Resort on the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Switzerland Inn, located directly on the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 334  between North Carolina’s Mt. Mitchell (tallest peak east of the Rockies) and Grandfather Mountain with it’s mile high swinging bridge, is perfect for overnight stops while traveling the entire parkway, or a good multi day stop if motorcycle riders want to get off the Blue Ridge Parkway and ride some great local roads on your motorcycle vacation.

Photo - Always popular with motorcyclists.

Always popular with motorcyclists, the Switzerland Inn aims to please.

The Switzerland Inn provides a variety of accommodations, dining, and amenities as you plan your motorcycle vacation. If you’re traveling through and want a clean low cost room, the Diamondback motorcycle lodge is perfect ($65.00). If on the other hand a couple are traveling and want a comfortable suite with great mountain views, private balconies, etc. and wish to explore and enjoy the many relaxing and beautiful sights in the area, a luxury suite can be reserved ($180.00).

Photo - A rider heads out for a day of scenic riding

Ride hard all day, rest easy each night. Beauty surrounds wherever you are.

The Switzerland Inn is a full service resort with two restaurants, two bars, hot tubs, pool, concierge service for fishing, horseback riding, golf, whatever a guest needs or wants while on vacation in the mountains.  They have covered bike parking, motorcycle rentals, airport service, and motorcycle tour guides if needed.

Photo - Covered Parking for your bike

Of course, there is covered parking for your bike.

Gary and his wife are both avid riders with a garage full of toys, so they know just how to cater to the motorcyclist traveling through the region. Popular over the years with both sports cars and motorcycles who come to enjoy such unique and challenging roads as “The Diamondback” (NC 226A), the Blue Ridge Parkway, and other notable and challenging roads nearby, The Switzerland Inn has something to offer everyone.

Photo - View of the Switzerland Inn

A spectacular setting popular with car clubs and motorcyclists

Learn more and make your travel arrangements at: