It seems that every time an opportunity arises, I tell you how much I love the road. No, I don’t mean that I like the fact that there are roads. I like to hit the road and see where it takes me.
Recently in these pages you saw a story about the hilly roads of southern Indiana that could serve as a real roller coaster. I love roads like this. There are a few in Daviess County Kentucky (day-viss not day-veez) that offer huge hills that look like canal drops if you put your vehicle in neutral – those are Bratcher Hill Road and Windy Hollow Road.
But hills are one thing, lots of turns are another. And then you combine the two for what seems to be, by all accounts, a thrilling experience. Yes, I’m more than willing to try the Dragon Slayer, even IF I don’t have a motorcycle; it seems to be the mode of transportation of choice for those who do.
Honestly, I had a little preparation for something like this. There’s a treacherous stretch of freeway in New Mexico between Interstate 25 and Silver City where my family members live. On a map, it looks like nothing. But it’s a paper map. Use a Google map to zoom in and you’ll see why truckers, in particular, should avoid crossing the Black Range Mountains.
Nothing but hairpin bends for most of the length of this highway. But it’s like the Dragon Slayer which, coincidentally, crosses Black MOUNTAIN, the highest point in Kentucky.
Now, if you want to talk hairpin curves, check out this fun little Dragon Slayer feature. It starts at 8:34 a.m.
The Dragon Slayer isn’t just a fun name chosen by locals to identify a dangerous (but thrilling) stretch of road. It is a tourist attraction accompanied by a guide of Appalachian Backroads. Here is who they are:
Backroads of Appalachia is a passionate and empathetic 501(c)3 for the Appalachia region, driving economic development, job training, and opportunity in impoverished regions of Appalachia through tourism and motorsports.
This could explain why the majority of enthusiasts choose motorcycles to travel this 20-mile highway which has 226 (!) turns and will take motorists to Virginia.
And Backroads has done its homework in this part of Eastern Kentucky by protecting three trails, all with the goal of promoting this area and improving the health of its economy:
We have trademarked three motorsport trails using pre-existing back roads through Appalachia through Eastern Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Ohio. We choose beautiful Appalachian highways through struggling former coal towns to promote tourism. Our headquarters is based in Lynch, KY, in Harlan County, one of the poorest counties in Kentucky. In December 2019, Harlan County had an unemployment rate three times the national average. This town that once boomed with 10,000 now has fewer than 500. Like Lynch, we find distressed towns along beautiful Appalachian back roads and infuse new tourism dollars to support local businesses, create jobs, reduce poverty and improve the quality of life of low-income residents. .
And this beautiful road too. You know, I’ve never been to Black Mountain, and since it’s the highest point in Kentucky – 4,145 feet above sea level – it’s something I have to check off a list. And going in the fall seems like a no-brainer, especially after seeing this:
Beautiful. Now imagine this view bathed in fall colors.
Or maybe you won’t have to. Maybe I’ve tempted your taste buds enough for the adventure and you’re considering “riding the Dragon Slayer” as they say in Lynch, Kentucky.
If so, I hope you have a great time navigating those “kiss your ass” curves, as my family used to say.
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