I decided to take some time out of my normally dull day to make a write-up of the area known as Deal’s Gap. I have always seen multiple questions (or threads) posted on this topic. I hope that the administrators of the following forums will sticky this topic. Not only do I hope this will introduce the area to a lot of riders that have only heard it mentioned here and there, but I hope it will effect those who have been going to the area since it was just US129.
I rode, NEVER trailer, all my bikes on any trip I make. I personally will never trailer a bike regardless because I love to ride and I will go to any lengths to only ride. The Honda CBR’s that I have owned have all had the pleasure of experiencing the Gap in their lifetime with me nestled over the gas tank. Anyway, I wanted to show my visits to the area with more then just a few pictures.
I have stayed at a few different locations and talked to a large amount of people who have done the same. Some love the rustic camping that is offered, some like the cheap hotel, and some like the cabins and retreats. I like the best of all worlds so I found a couple local spots that most ignore. These spots that I personally love are only because I do not take along a family with me. Fortunately I do not have to please other people so I think only of myself on these journeys. For those that must succumb to the family life, then staying on the popular side where all the shops are is ideal for you. A bit out of the way for the rider, but a compromise for the family trip. If a family trip entails me going to ride all day, I think a few miles can mean a lot more then a few arguments.
Place to stay for the singles or the easily convinced wives—The 2 Wheel Inn is a great place to stay if you can convince the wife that she’ll be relaxing all day or driving to the opposite side to get to shops and such. For those that can convince their lady or those that don’t need to, will love it here. The owners of the place are older, but definitely wiser. They run a great Inn there, and they will make you feel like home. On the weekends, they have fires and everyone that stays there gets together and just sits by the fire. Amongst all this, you room will be clean to all degrees and you have your own bike garage to work and clean you bike. Heck, they even give you rags! So when the wife gets bored you can just send her to Gatlinburg; they have a BUNCH of shops on Main Street so she can spend your money. When she goes there she can pick up beer and stuff as well since you can not get it on this side of the Gap. The restaurants on this side (2 Wheel Inn) will close real early so if you want dinner, eat early or go to the opposite side. I have stayed on both ends and DO NOT prefer the Gatlinburg side because it is too touristy. Unless you want to fight the ongoing car traffic, I would recommend staying on the south side of the Gap. Also, this is where the Cherohala Skyway is located. You can find DollyWood on the north side of the Gap, and it is a decent ride just to get to the Gap. That ride is nice because you catch the foothill parkway (sweepers easily taken at 70mph), but out of the way for that little stretch.
Place to stay for easy going, outdoors people—If NOT BOOKED, grab the places at the GAP www.dealsgap.com
Prices are nice, and the hospitality is unreal. At this place you are 100% sure of having NOTHING BUT BIKERS around you (all kinda from cruisers to crotches, most crotches). Great time and great people...book ASAP! I can’t really say much on the rooms because this place is booked too far in advance for me. I can never seem to book things in time so I just wing it. Either way, this is the meeting spot for any rider in the area or visiting the area. The reason is that they are the only store there at the Gap. They have gas, a restaurant, cold beverages, souvenirs, and a tree to dangle your broken bike parts. You’ll soon find out that you have no choice but to visit the Gap’s only true resort so you might as well plan on it!
Places to stay for those family people—Anywhere on the north side of the Gap because it is so close to all the shops. Your family can enjoy countless days of fun, exciting, credit card spending while you whip around the roads. The last trip that I made to the Gap, two other riders and myself stayed at the Knights Inn in Gatlinburg. It was actually quite nice for the cost of the room; however, for the same price we could’ve stayed at the Gap resort. The hospitality at the Knights Inn was beyond what I was used to for a chain of hotels…they were catering to our every demand. On top of that, a liquor store was a stone’s throw away.
The real reason, regardless of what you tell the ladies, for your trip to the area is for the roads. Now of course if you have planned on going to the Gap it is solely to ride the Gap. You will hear the locals and other riders mentioning other roads, but this means nothing to you on your first trip. I just would like to extend the knowledge of those other roads and make your first trip more profound then leaving with just the memory of a single road. I do not hold anything against The Dragon, but I surely would not want to miss out on the area’s finest motorcycle ROADS.
Place to ride—The Gap aka Tail of the Dragon of course. This is the reason for your 2 hour or 2 day drive. This road is usually crowded depending on the time so be prepared. If you know about it, in Canada, just imagine how many others know about it in the states. Check the Gap site out first because there are a lot of events going on and you don’t want to get stuck in the midst. Those that ride it fast will pass with or without permission so give permission to pass. Same goes for you...even though you may catch Mr.HD and wife dragging ass they DO SEE YOU and 85% of the time will wave you on. Don’t be a fool to them and pass them because you can. Their are pull offs every so often for you to take pics and such. Also check out www.zeephoto.com
cuz they sit and take high res pics of you riding at cheap costs. CHECK YOUR SPEED, the cops are not so forgiving though at some times are not even there to bother you. Check into www.dealsgap.com
though because if they know about cops, you'll know about cops...keeping us updated 24/7
Place to ride—The Cherohala Skyway is a long, elevation changing motorcycle dream world. After thinking I was in Heaven the first time in the area, I was shocked when a buddy and me hit the Skyway the next time I arrived at the Dragon. The road to the Skyway is not prime riding, but it is jewel beyond that. It is best to ask directions from a rider that knows how to get there. I could only try to get you there, but I would have to reference a map to be totally sure. The road is great for motorcycles and cars due to its sweepers and switchbacks. Imagine if you take one corner of the Gap and the other and stretch it out over 50 miles. That my friends, is the Skyway…a beginner/rookie can take turns around 50-70 and feel comfortable. A skilled/seasoned rider will never want to leave that road not only because it is 50 miles long, but also it is less populated then any of the others. This is on the south side of the Gap and between that and 2 Wheel Inn.
Place to ride—The Foothills Parkway has a lot of pull offs available for scenic views. I personally was not a huge fan and would not go out of my way to ride the Parkway due to the amount of pull offs. If I wanted to worry about a car pulling out in front of me, I would have stayed home. This road has mostly sweepers, so if you want a smaller version of the Cherohala with a lot of places to shoot up some pictures then you may want to head out this way. It is on the north side of the Gap between that and Gatlinburg.
Place to ride—Highway 28 has got a lot of positive reviews from other riders. Unfortunately I always stayed off this highway because I heard nothing but warnings of police force always on duty. So, my knowledge of this road is nothing but ignorance. Ask any other rider there and they should know whether or not you would want to risk it. Most riders will know where police are; it is like the inside of a jail in that respect.
Place to ride (outside the Gap-US129)—First, I have heard a few rumors and tales of a section of the area called Blood Mountain. This section is a 2-hour ride south of the Gap, but 129 is pretty scenic and just for that stretch, it is out of the way. Blood Mountain would take, at minimum, 5-6 total hours to ride there and back and to appreciate the road. It is one HELL OF A section of US129 so if you are going that way and don't ride it, you would be making a huge mistake. If you come from the north then it is a waste of a day unless you have days to waste. If that is the case prepare for an uphill/downhill climb with great banking turns that even NASCAR drivers would drool over. It feels like you are in a roller coaster coming off that first 200-foot drop slamming into that first turn but with your knee out to the side.
So the difference is obvious. I would say that if I could go back to the first time I went to the Gap I would have definitely taken a full day to ride the Skyway. In my opinion riding that would have built my confidence more because of the gradual turns and the traffic is QUITE less then the Gap. Then after that I would ride the Gap multiple times over and over again until I at least knew 18 of the 318 turns. The Gap is a small section, but can take twenty minutes for a beginner each way. “If a GoldWing can do it in 11 minutes, then I sure as hell can” is what I recall a buddy of mine saying (exact words vary). Well as I caught up, his bike was lying in the leaves…