One Tank Trip: The Back of the Dragon

TAZEWELL, VA (WOAY) – Tazewell County is the home of Virginia’s only designated motorcycle route. It’s called the Back of the Dragon – Route 16 running from Marion to the Town of Tazewell.

And in Tazewell is the Back of the Dragon Center, which welcomes riders from all over the region. 

“We welcome people here who are going to ride the Back of the Dragon,” said Beth Takach, store manager at the Back of the Dragon Center.

“We’re a coffee shop and brewery, we have a food truck. It’s neat inside, there’s places to sit down, hang out and chill.”

At the Back of the Dragon, riders get a chance to rest up before heading on the 30 mile journey. There they learn all about the road and it’s distinguishing features.

“What we do is we promote the Back of the Dragon, which is Route 16 from Tazewell to Marion. It’s 32 miles, 438 curves, 3,500 feet of elevation, you’re going over three mountain ranges. It’s amazing.”

The Back of the Dragon Center opened up only just last year. Since then, they’ve been serving riders and tourists from all over the region and beyond. 

The founder, Larry Davidson, had the idea for the trail when he was deployed overseas in Germany. He’d take retreats occasionally to see the country, and noticed many scenic European roads that reminded him of Tazewell.

He came up with the idea that riders don’t need to travel overseas to see a beautiful trail. 

“We have people coming as far as Canada and all over the United States,” Davidson said. “They come here, they want to ride our roads and see the area.”

When coming up with the idea, Davidson met with the former Governor of Virginia Bob McDonnell to spearhead legislation officially naming the route the Back of the Dragon. Since then, the road has been known as one of the premiere tourist destinations in the entire region. 

And the Welcome Center is in the middle of their second summer season since its inception, giving riders an idea of what else they can do in the area while they visit.

“They get the maps and all the other information, and they spend time looking over Southwest Virginia.

The Back of the Dragon Center is located on 592 Main Street in Tazewell. And you can get there and ride the trail in just one tank of gas. 

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