Ride North Carolina 209: The Rattler

Aerial view of a winding mountain road near Hot Springs, North Carolina
IL Great River Road
Author Michael Milbourn
Product Manager – Dairyland
18 de marzo de 2024

North Carolina 209—also called the Rattler—is known in the motorcycle community as an attention-demanding route. With over 234 twists, curves, and turns over 36 challenging miles, it’s not for beginners. But, if you’re up for an adventure, it’s also home to some of the most beautiful riding you may ever experience. 

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Safely ride your motorcycle on NC 209

This route was newly paved in 2016, making for a smooth ride. However, during periods of rain, riders have cautioned that gravel gets washed into the roads, which can create hazardous curves.

As always when riding in remote areas, beware of wildlife—deer, groundhogs, possums, bears, and other animals—crossing the road or exploring their habitat at rest stops and along hiking trails.

Many farms also operate in this region. It's not uncommon to encounter a livestock carrier or hay truck around a corner. Remember to remain mindful of any signage and your speed. Even if the speed limit is 55, you'll want to take it slow on turns—many curves on this route are sharper than they appear as you approach them.

Weather along the Rattler

This region experiences four distinct seasons. Checking out the average monthly temps for Hot Springs at the northern end of the route can help you plan your trip.

Many riders flock to this region during the fall to observe the vibrant foliage. Temperatures in the summer are great for riding and typically stay below 90, but July and August do see an increase in precipitation, so be prepared for wet conditions.

Climate chart for Hot Spring, North Carolina

NC 209 route map

Riders may seek out the Rattler to experience the thrills of twisting roads through the mountains and the unforgettable scenery, but the area is also rich with culture and plenty of other adventures. Check out our interactive Rattler route map to plan your ride. 

Stops to make as you ride the Rattler

Throughout this route, there are plenty of opportunities for photo-worthy moments, grabbing food, and exploring the outdoors. Here are some pit stops and attractions to consider along the way.

Ferguson Supply

Many riders start their journey at Ferguson Supply, just north of Lake Junaluska. You can grab a bite, get gas, and use the restroom before taking off. It’s also a great place for a photo op with the large Rattler sign.

Outdoor adventures

If you need a break from your bike, jump into some outdoor fun. Try whitewater rafting on the mighty French Broad River or take on one of many hiking trails, including sections of the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail. You can go horseback riding and camp on the 550-acre property at Smoky Mountain Trail Rides and Bison Farm or experience trout fishing in nationally designated waterways. Finish the day by soaking in the natural mineral waters managed by the Hot Springs Resort and Spa.

Ashville’s backyard

The northern half of the Rattler takes you into Madison County, known as "Asheville's backyard"—a place steeped in natural beauty and a vibrant cultural scene. For history buffs and architecture lovers, there are 10,000 historic barns in this county. The unique Appalachian style of these barns tells a story of the rural lifestyle.

The city of Hot Springs

Since this route is relatively brief compared to other motorcycle routes and loops, many don't stop until they hit Hot Springs. If you're visiting the region as a tourist, you may want to stop here for a night or two. Hot Springs offers live music, great food, craft beer, and more. Stop by The Iron Horse Station to visit their landmark inn, tavern, restaurants, and shops.

Resource Center
Autumn view of a scenic highway

In certain parts of the country, the air is getting cooler and leaves are changing color. As you plan to experience autumn from your motorcycle, don’t miss our best places to ride to see fall foliage.

Smiling biker looking through visor of his motorcycle helmet

With the frantic pace of our culture and the current challenges we’re facing, it’s no surprise that discussions surrounding mental health are popping up everywhere. With mental health being on the forefront of conversation, it’s important to focus on healthy practices that build our mental strength. Here’s the great news! Riding more can improve your mental health. We’ve known and understood this all along, but now there’s a scientific study that proves its benefits.

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*La exactitud de los datos está sujeta a la fecha de publicación de este artículo.