Posted by: Jessie | May 20, 2011

Blue Ridge Parkway Trip: Iron Horse to Deal’s Gap to Cumberland Falls, KY

We had breakfast in the lodge.  They were confused by my vegetarianism, but they were very accommodating.  Eric wanted to stay another night at Iron Horse.  I was concerned that if we stayed another night then we would have to ride all the way home in one day, a very long ride.  We decided to split the ride home into two days and stay at Cumberland falls.  So we checked out of Iron Horse in the morning and took our time riding the area.  We went the long way around, taking the Cherohala Skyway first, and going around the loop to Deal’s Gap.  I have to admit, the Cherohala Skyway was lovely, but it paled in comparison to the Blue Ridge parkway.  We stopped for lunch at a little Mexican Restaurant in one of the little towns, and the girl who waited on us was very impressed that we had ridden all the way from Cincinnati on motorcycles.  I guess not many of the biker tourists stop in this little town.  Anyway, the food was good and the service was friendly.  We got back on the road and headed on to the Gap. 

I had been to Deal’s Gap before, but that was in the winter.  This was very different.  In the winter there was nobody there and almost no traffic.  The gift shop/gas station was closed, and since the trees had no leaves you could see down the side of the mountain.  This time the trees were covered with leaves and you could not see the treacherous cliff you would fall off if you went off the road.  There was a lot of traffic.  There was also a lot of groups of people pulled over in the overlooks and pull-offs, just hanging out.  There were several spots by the side of the road where photographers had set up awnings and were taking pictures of people as they went by.  The most famous of these photographers is Killboy.  He has been photographing bikers in the Gap for years and has a fun web site. 

I found all these photographers distracting.  I would come around a blind corner, and there would be something big at the side of the road, and I would slow down and straighten up without meaning to.  I think this is just my “danger reaction” left over from that time I was hit by a truck.  (And I wasn’t even on a bike that time!)  Anyway, slowing down in the middle of a turn does not make a good picture.   At the end of the 11 miles of twisties there is Tail of the Dragon on the right and Deal’s Gap Motorcycle Resort on the left.  Both were crowded and busy.

The Deal’s Gap Motorcycle Resort has rooms to stay the night in, a restaurant/bar, a gift shop, and a gas station.  In the parking lot is the Tree of Shame, where people hang broken motorcycle parts after wrecking in the Gap.  Although, there is a child’s Big Wheels hanging in the tree… I sincerely hope no child wrecked in the Gap.

After our ride through Deal’s Gap and our stop at the gift shop we got back on the road and headed up to Cumberland Falls.  It was a nice ride up, and the weather had turned hot.  We stayed in the Dupont Lodge, which is a very old hotel.  I suspect it was built in the 40’s.  It was not very fancy, but it was air conditioned, which made us very happy.  The room was not great.  It was a little musty and had one of those noisy hotel air conditioners under the window.  The view was nice, though.  The restaurant had a seafood buffet, which was ok.  After dinner we walked the trail down from the lodge to close to the river.  It was a very steep hike, and when we got the to picnic area at the bottom of the hill there were signs that said “please don’t feed the bears.”  It was getting dark and I did not want to see any bears, so we went right back up the hill.

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