With it’s wide open spaces and natural beauty Cades Cove is the most visited area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Wildlife is abundant here and there’s more than a dozen hiking and horseback riding trails.
Cades Cove Loop Road is the primary access to the cove. This 11-mile, one way road passes by 19 tour stops that are marked by numbered posts. These historic, pioneer structures tell the history of its early inhabitants. Here’s some tips to take along with you when visiting the Cove.
- Pick up a guide. You can pick it up at the beginning of the road or at the Cades Cove Visitor Center. It only costs you a dollar and it includes background information on each of the sites. The kids loved hearing about them and we even had a little history lesson along the way sparked by the pamphlet.
- Mornings and evenings are generally the best times to look for and view wildlife. One of the best places to spot the black bear is Cades Cove. Your best bet is to look for them in the morning. They spend a lot of time in trees and their favorite feeding places are oak or fruit trees, streams and berry patches.
- It is often crowded during peak periods in summer and fall, so expect delays.
- The road is closed to all motor vehicles Saturday and Wednesday from dawn to 10 a.m., early May through late September.
- There is no cellular service near the cove. We didn’t have internet access and we couldn’t make or receive calls or texts.
- Do not rely on GPS to get you where you need to go. First of all, good luck with trying to pick up 4G. Second of all, the GPS will send you in circles in the Smoky Mountains if you’re lucky enough to even get service.
- Animals you can spot: Deer, fox, bobcats, coyotes, elk, raccoon, beavers, otters, wild turkeys. Visit here for more information on cades cove wildlife.
- If you want to stop and visit one of the sites or observe the wildlife there are several roadside pullouts so you don’t block traffic.
- Number 11 on your guide is the Cable Mill Historic Area & Visitor Center. This is a walking tour that includes a Blacksmith Shop, the Cable Mill, Sorghum Mill, Smokehouse, Corn Crib, Barns and Gregg-Cable’s house. You can bypass the walking trail if you wish.
- Fill up on gas before you get there. The nearest town is about 17 miles away and gas stations are scarce and some are only open at certain hours or closed on Sundays.
- Entrance to all of the Great Smoky Mountains National Parks is free including Cades Cove. If you wish to donate there are spots set up to do that.
For more information on Cades Cove visit their website at cadescove.net.