Johnson City Roundtrip The Southern Dozen Ride 06 Spelunker Tour
RP22 Watauga Point Recreational Area
Route 6 of the Southern Dozen; Spelunker Tour.

The Southern Dozen are twelve rides based in Johnson City that travel all around the region. Each one is an adventure in itself that will take you through winding curves, breath taking natural scenery, historic landmarks, local points of interest, and fun attractions. Whether you feel like exploring caves, seeing wolves, touring historic sites, leaning into heart-pounding curves or just taking in the views, you’ll find a ride that’s exactly what you’re looking for.

The is part 6 of the Southern Dozen and is officially an 60 miles round-trip along Highway 11 from Johnson City to Bristol and back. To make the ride more interesting we will ride the scenic roads and “the Snake” into Shady valley.

In the early days of colonization, settlers were confronted by Indians who seemed to attack and then disappear into thin air. Later, colonists discovered a majestic underground river, which they used as a hiding place during the Civil War. On this ride you’ll see this unique cave, now called Bristol Caverns, as well as Appalachian Caverns - an underground labyrinth more than one million years old.

On your way to Bristol you can also visit Winged Deer Park and Boone Lake (RP2) where you can have a short break to stretch your legs, enjoy the scenery and even go for a swim.

A couple of miles further down to road you can visit the Rocky Mountain living museum (RP3), it sits at the foot of the beautiful Appalachian Mountains and offers tours along the different sites where they use living history to enhance public understanding of the daily life and values of the early settlers in our area.

We continue our ride through the beautiful Piney Flats countryside to head up to the next stop at the Appalachian Caverns (RP6). It is the perfect destination to experience amazing natural beauty located deep beneath the Earth's surface. The site features guided tours of the caverns, a campground, picnic area, gem mine, and gift shop.

The next stop is Bristol Caverns (RP14) is one of the oldest and most beautiful attractions in northeast Tennessee. There are several tours a day and they take you to all three levels of the caverns; from Mayor Preston's Chamber in the upper section to the winding banks of the Underground River 180 feet below on the cavern floor.

On our way back to Johnson City we will ride “the Snake” in the Tennessee mountains, through Stoney Creek and across into the pastoral Shady Valley. You can have a short stop at the Shady Valley Country Store (RP18). The Snake is said to have "489 curves, 3 mountains, 1 valley packed into 33 miles!"

The ride continues on beautiful scenic (curvy) mountain roads through Mountain City and Zionville. You can have a break at the Watauga Point Recreational Area (RP22) and plan a stop for dinner in Elizabethon (RP25) before we arrive in Johnson City.

This ride combines beautiful roads and a lot of sight seeing and I rate it with 5 stars.

RP4 Piney Flats
RP15 Bridge across Holston Lake
Useful links:
Source of the Spelunker Tour
Promotional Video of the Spelunker Tour
RP3 Rocky Mount Living History museum
RP6 Appalachian Caverns
RP14 Bristol Caverns

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René Plücken (RouteXpert)
North Carolina
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About this region
North Carolina ( (listen)) is a state in the southeastern region of the United States. North Carolina is the 28th largest and 9th-most populous of the 50 United States. It is bordered by Virginia to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Georgia and South Carolina to the south, and Tennessee to the west. Raleigh is the state's capital and Charlotte is its largest city. The Charlotte metropolitan area, with an estimated population of 2,569,213 in 2018, is the most-populous metropolitan area in North Carolina, the 23rd-most populous in the United States, and the largest banking center in the nation after New York City. The Raleigh metropolitan area is the second-largest metropolitan area in the state, with an estimated population of 1,362,540 in 2018, and is home to the largest research park in the United States, Research Triangle Park. North Carolina was established as a royal colony in 1729 and is one of the original Thirteen Colonies. North Carolina is named in honor of King Charles I of England who first formed the English colony, with Carolus being Latin for "Charles". On November 21, 1789, North Carolina became the 12th state to ratify the United States Constitution. In the run-up to the American Civil War, North Carolina declared its secession from the Union on May 20, 1861, becoming the last of eleven states to join the Confederate States. Following the Civil War, the state was restored to the Union on June 25, 1868. On December 17, 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright successfully piloted the world's first controlled, sustained flight of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft at Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina's Outer Banks. North Carolina uses the slogan "First in Flight" on state license plates to commemorate this achievement, alongside a newer alternative design bearing the slogan "First in Freedom" in reference to the Mecklenburg Declaration. North Carolina is defined by a wide range of elevations and landscapes. From west to east, North Carolina's elevation descends from the Appalachian Mountains to the Piedmont and Atlantic coastal plain. North Carolina's Mount Mitchell at 6,684 feet (2,037 m) is the highest-point in North America east of the Mississippi River. Most of the state falls in the humid subtropical climate zone; however, the western, mountainous part of the state has a subtropical highland climate.
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Route collections
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View route collection The Original Southern Dozen Motorcycle Rides in Tennessee Virginia and North Carolina
About this route collection
The Southern Dozen; hit the throttle and hold on tight!

There’s no better place to leave the daily grind in the dust than roaring around the curves of the Southern Dozen! Surrounded by some of the most breathtaking natural beauty in the country, you’ll find the freedom of exhilaration as you wind through the foothills and mountains of Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and Western North Carolina.

Whether you’re looking for heart-pumping curves, breathtaking scenery, historic landmarks, local gems, or nearby attractions, the Southern Dozen has rides worthy of even the most seasoned road warrior. Explore the Original Southern Dozen and see all that Johnson City and the surrounding region have to offer.

Johnson City is a regional gem where big-city amenities meet small-town Southern charm. Here you’ll have access to everything you could want or need and more! Perfect for the casual rider and those who “live to ride,” Johnson City hosts numerous bike rallies each year. So plan your trip and book one of the many biker-friendly accommodations.