Want to find great rides that you can navigate right now? This is the 13th installment in a series where we highlight great can’t-miss routes around the world. All routes can be found in REVER’s Discover section. Check them out, and then go and ride them!
Southwest Virginia and the Blue Ridge Mountains are an epic destination for motorcycle riders seeking challenging and scenic roads. The Claw of the Dragon is made up of multiple loops that total more than 350 miles.
At the center of the area is Wytheville, with towns like Marion, Galax, Tazwell, Dublin and seven Virginia counties all featured along the routes. One of the must-ride routes is the Back of the Dragon section that follows Route 16 between Tazewell and Marion. The Bastian and Marion Loops featured below include this awesome section of road.
This 236-mile loop wraps around the entire area, and is comprised of a combination of great roads that make up the entire Claw of the Dragon menu of awesome routes. You can always jump off and explore roads on it’s interior and then bounce back out onto the loop.
This loop can be ridden either clockwise or counterclockwise. It starts and finishes in Tazewell, VA. A good plan would be to ride this loop that sits above the town of Tazewell, and then hop on Route 16 and ride the Back of the Dragon south to Marion.
Known as “Vanderbilt’s First Choice,” “God’s Thumbprint,” and the “Garden Spot of the World,” beautiful Burke’s Garden is Virginia’s highest valley and Virginia’s largest rural historic district. This bowl-shaped valley carved out of the top of a mountain offers the most breathtaking scenery this side of New Zealand, with verdant farmland, abundant wildlife, rare bird watching, peaceful biking, and adventurous hiking on the Appalachian Trail.
The newest anchor community for The Claw of the Dragon is Galax. This 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 the community the distinction of the “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. Capitalizing on the wealth of local artisans, the area is also home to the Chestnut Creek School of the Arts.
Highlights include: The Lincoln Theatre, Song of the Mountains PBS, TV Series, General Francis Marion (boutique hotel / restaurant), Collins House B&B, Virginia Sweetwater Distillery, Appalachian Mountain Spirits Point Distillery, Wolfe’s BBQ, Hungry Mother State Park, Museum of the Middle Appalachians
Big Walker Lookout, BW Country Store, Beagle Ridge Herb Farm, West Wind Winery, Rural Retreat Winery, Wohlfahrt Haus Dinner Theatre, 1776 Log House Restaurant, Bolling Wilson Hotel (boutique hotel/restaurant/bar), Trinkle Mansion Bed & Breakfast, New River Trail State Park
Highlights Include: Big Walker Lookout, BW Country Store. Many people will recognize this area as the location where two interstates converge, but there’s a lot 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, the rider is immersed in breathtaking flora and fauna of each season. At the top, take a rest at Big Walker Lookout, climb the 100 foot tower, and enjoy a snack in the country store.
The Back of the Dragon is an awesome section of Virginia Route 16, between Tazewell and Marion, and is the signature road in the area. Also check out the Wolf Creek Indian Village. The Back of the Dragon makes up the western end of this loop, while the loop itself wraps around the mountain that Burkes Garden is atop. Wander to the top for extra credit and take in the amazing scenery that is unique to Burkes Garden.