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A bridge over a foggy lake leads to fall-colored trees on the opposite shore at Hungry Mother State Park.

Southwest Virginia’s Premier Motorcycle Ride

It would be a challenge for motorcycle riders to find a more beautiful and diversified driving trail than the scenic backroads of Southwest Virginia.

Looping through the Blue Ridge Mountain range, the Claw of the Dragon is one of the most popular destinations in the South among motorcycle enthusiasts.

Motorcycles sit on the gravel surface at Big Walker Lookout with the forested mountains stretching off into the distance, meeting the cloud-filled sky.

With the charming town of Wytheville, Virginia as the trail’s center or hub, this ride features loops totaling over 350 miles.

It ventures over to the community of Marion to the west and Galax to the east. The drive meanders through parts of seven Virginia counties but is easily accessible from Interstates 77 or 81 as a starting point.

Day 1

Begin your day right off the Blue Ridge Parkway in the community of Galax, Virginia. The Virginia city is steeped in the history of music.

The Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention held the second week of August each year has earned it the distinction “World Capital of Old Time Mountain Music.”

Festivals and special events are held at the Rex Theatre and in the downtown showcasing the area’s authentic sound.

The marquee at the Rex Theater advertises a fiddlers convention.

Capitalizing on the wealth of local artisans, the area is also home to the Chestnut Creek School of the Arts. A variety of classes offer a hands-on opportunity to explore an art or hone a craft with a local artist.

Pottery platters, bowls, coasters and other dishes are scattered on a cloth-covered tabletop with the local potter's description nearby.

The words “Galax” and “barbecue” are synonymous, so much so that the annual Smoke on the Mountain, Virginia State Barbecue Championship is held in downtown Galax each July. Learn more about the interesting things to see and do in Galax

After a full day in Galax, take I-77 N to travel to Wytheville to overnight in one of the town’s many lodging accommodations. Wytheville has over a dozen hotel brands including all-suite properties.

In Downtown Wytheville you’ll find two historic lodging structures: the Trinkle Mansion Bed & Breakfast and the boutique Bolling Wilson Hotel.

The Bolling Wilson hotel has a reddish brick façade with white pillars supporting a portico.

Day 2

Rise and shine for a great day of riding. Many recognize this area as the location where two interstates converge – but there are more interesting roads within the historic community. Riders will enjoy a challenging ride up Big Walker Mountain.

As the 16-mile scenic byway makes it way to the top, you are immersed in the breathtaking flora and fauna of each season.

Numerous motorcycles are parked at Big Walker Lookout with the 100-foot lookout towering overhead.

At the top, take a rest at Big Walker Lookout, climb the 100 foot tower, and enjoy a snack in the country store. A variety of other local attractions such as Beagle Ridge Herb Farm, West Wind Winery, and Fort Chiswell Animal Park, offer the opportunity to enjoy some distinctive “homegrown” experiences.

Wytheville’s downtown historic district allows visitors to leisurely walk the streets and discover the history that has made this a town of hospitality for over 200 hundred years.

Interesting shopping, museums, and the historic flavor of the 1776 Log House Restaurant are just a few of the must-see stops along the way.

The 1776 Log House Restaurant in Wytheville is a historic staple of the community.

An evening of music can be enjoyed at the Wohlfahrt Haus Dinner Theatre or one of several music venues nearby.

Four female singers dressed in blue and white country garb sing on stage at Wohlfahrt Haus Dinner Theatre.

Learn more about interesting things to see and do in Wytheville

Follow I-81 S to Marion and overnight in one of Smyth County’s accommodations. A favorite of riding groups is the General Francis Marion Hotel in Downtown Marion.

The General Francis Marion Hotel sits in downtown Marion. The upper floors have a red brick façade and the flags of the U.S. and the commonwealth of Virginia wave from the building's exterior.

Day 3

This will be a day to remember, as riders have the opportunity to take a heart-stopping trip on Virginia Route 16, the two-lane ribbon over three mountains between Tazewell and Marion called Back of the Dragon.

Don’t miss Smyth County‘s unique attractions nearby.

Red theater seats face the red-curtained stage in the Lincoln Theater in Marion, VA. Murals line the yellowish-gold walls.

Harkening back to the grand movie palaces of yesteryear, the Lincoln Theatre in Downtown Marion is the home of the nationally syndicated bluegrass music television series, “Song of the Mountains.” This beautiful facility is one of only three remaining Mayan Revival theaters in America.

The Black Rooster restaurant with a bar with 27 beer taps is a favorite of riders. Nearby, Virginia Sweetwater Distillery and Appalachian Mountain Spirits offer a unique taste of local flavor. Wolf’s Barbeque is also a hometown favorite with several other restaurants also available.

A bridge over a foggy lake leads to fall-colored trees on the opposite shore at Hungry Mother State Park.

Other interesting attractions include Hungry Mother State Park, and the Museum of the Middle Appalachians.

Uniformed men cover their ears while firing cannons, releasing billowing smoke over the grassy field at the Museum of the Middle Appalachians.

This is but a sampling of all the interesting things you can see and do as you ride the Claw of the Dragon and explore the interesting communities along the way.

View detailed maps of the motorcycle route loops.