One of the most visited places within The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is Cades Cove. A gorgeous valley with stunning mountain views around every turn, you can’t go wrong spending a day here with your family. If your kids are anything like mine, then they love spotting wildlife. Cades Cove is one of the best places in the park to see deer, turkey, bears, and more.
Cades Cove: A Staple of the Smokies
How it works
Cades Cove is an 11 mile, one way, paved loop that you can cruise around in your vehicle at a slow pace. There are numerous opportunities to pull off of the road to view wildlife at a safe distance, as well as multiple cabins and churches you can stop at and explore. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can park along the loop and do one of the hikes within Cades Cove. A personal favorite of mine is Abrams Falls, but it would probably be tough for little ones.
From May 4 to September 28 2022, Cades Cove is closed to motorized vehicles on Wednesdays. On these days, you can enjoy the loop on foot or by bicycle! You can rent bikes at the Cades Cove campground store or bring your own. Make sure you arrive early to get a good parking spot!
You can easily spend an entire day at Cades Cove depending on what you decide to do, so make sure to adequately pack for your day. Once you start the loop, you have to finish it since it’s one way only! Make sure to bring snacks, water, extra clothes for the kiddos, and whatever else you may need for your trip. During heavy traffic seasons, summer and fall, expect to spend extra time driving the loop.
- Do not approach or feed the wildlife. View them from an appropriate distance.
- Do not litter. There are bear-proof trash bins at the end of the loop.
- Be courteous to other visitors. Use pull-offs instead of stopping in the middle of the road.