The Cades Cove Experience in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The 6,800-acre valley comprising Cades Cove, one of the most visited areas of the park, provides a glimpse of a bygone mountain lifestyle. Travel in your car or truck (no RVs or commercial vehicles) on a one-way, 11-mile paved loop road. Sightings of deer, turkeys, black bears, coyotes, ground hogs, raccoons, butterflies, and other animals are exciting and common.

Great Smoky Mountains Sunrise in Cades Cove

A Great Smoky Mountains Sunrise in Cades Cove.

Those seeking an out-of-the-vehicle experience may enjoy cycling the loop or hiking the many trails found in Cades Cove. One of the most popular hikes is to the picturesque Abrams Falls. Midway of the loop, the Cades Cove Visitor Center, home to the John Cable Grist Mill, the Gregg-Cable House, a Cantilever Barn and other farm buildings, is the perfect place to pause. Grassy meadows and banks of the babbling stream provide great picnic venues. Graveyards, located beside several historic churches in the cove, bear mute testament to early residents.

 Cades Cove Need to Know

  • The path into the cove is open from sunrise to sunset year-round.
  • It can sometimes take more than four hours to complete the 11 mile one-way loop during the busy summer and fall seasons, and on most weekends. Sparks Lane and Hyatt Lane offer shortcuts out of the cove.
  • The road is closed to motor vehicles until 10 a.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays from early May to late September.
  • The loop is closed to cars until noon each Saturday in December to allow bicyclists and hikers a quiet journey. Bike rentals available at the Campground Store. Enjoy an ice cream cone from the Campground Store too!
  • Cades Cove Riding Stable offers guided trail rides on horseback, hayrides, and carriage rides from early March through late November. For more information and prices, visit or call 865-448-9009.
  • A self-guiding booklet is available for a small fee at the Orientation Shelter at the beginning of the loop.
  • Cades Cove Picnic Area has charcoal grills for cooking or consider packing a basket for a picnic in the cove. Don’t forget a blanket and chairs.
  • Please pack out all your trash!
  • Bring binoculars for optimal wildlife viewing.

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Dollywood Cades Cove Expansion Breaks Ground

The new Dollywood Cades Cove expansion promises to quadruple park attendance.

The new Dollywood Cades Cove expansion promises to quadruple park attendance.

Dollywood Cades Cove Expansion Breaks Ground. Smoky Mountain officials announced today the expansion of the popular theme park has begun. The project has not been without controversy. Locals and visitors have expressed outrage but the lack of support for the protest movement and the recent park closure due to the COVID-19 virus cleared the way for the work to begin.

The Grand Parton is the worlds fastest rollercoaster!

The Grand Parton will be the worlds fastest rollercoaster!

The new addition to the Smokies will include the longest and fastest roller coaster in North America. Dubbed the “Grand Parton,” the coaster will exceed 325 miles per hour. Three tunnels will be constructed for the coaster to pass through the mountains. Abrams Creek will be rerouted to the newer and taller Abrams Falls. The new falls will accommodate the new “River Wild Rampage” ride plunging visitors over six hundred feet into a large holding pond.

The new and improved Cades Cove grist mill experience will showcase tubing!

The new and improved Cades Cove grist mill experience will showcase tubing!

We knew parking would be a big problem in Cades Cove for the millions of new visitors but after serious thought we were able to solve that issue,” said park official O. Howie Lyes. “We gained the rights to 700 acres of park land to log. Once the trees were gone we were ready to park cars. We were even able to use the lumber we harvested to help construct the new roller coaster! Everything worked out great.

This expansion will not be the first time a national park has also doubled as a theme park. Who will forget the short-lived Niagra Falls tubing extravaganza or the Grand Canyon chutes and ladders park. Visitors will no doubt have strong opinions about the theme park but we can’t wait to ride the new rollercoaster!

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Cades Cove Car Ban Ends

Cades Cove car ban is under way.

With the tunnel reopening the car ban comes to an end .

Cades Cove Car Ban Ends. Cades Cove has been closed for visitors for two months but that ends when the Laurel Creek Road (a seven-mile main access road from the Townsend Wye to Cades Cove) reopens this weekend on March 1, 2020. Motorists, bikers and hikers have been shut out of the cove since repair work began January 5th on the 1948-era Bote Mountain Tunnel. Most of the work is complete, but some intermittent single lane closures are scheduled between March 1 and June 15 to finish repairs on the vintage tunnel and to re-pave.

Closure at Cades Cove Campground continues through March 5. However Elkmont and Smokemont Campgrounds are open to winter campers.

Take time to enjoy the quiet of the Cove and get a little exercise!

Take time to enjoy the quiet of the Cove and get a little exercise!

Cades Cove has a rich history. For hundreds of years the Cherokee hunted in the cove. Archeologist have found no evidence of major settlements, and so it appears that it was just that – a hunting ground.

Dan Lawson heirlooms return to the Smokies.

Dan Lawson homesite.

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Smoky Mountain Winter Experience

Smoky Mountain Winter Experience event will be fun for the entire family!

Smoky Mountain Winter Experience event will be fun for the entire family!

Smoky Mountain Winter Experience event is scheduled for January 27 -29, 2020 at the Ramsey Hotel in Pigeon Forge. This inaugural event will offer professionally guided hikes and educational sessions covering the culture and natural beauty of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the surrounding area. The mission of the event is to connect nature lovers with the Smoky Mountains through the experience of learning with experts via practical field experience and indoor lectures and demonstrations.

Our family is so excited about this new event!” Myra Blevins said, “We love hiking and learning about the Smokies and plan to drive down from Chicago to attend.”

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Cades Cove Loop Lope 2019

Cades Cove Loop Lope is your chance to experience the beauty of Cades Cove in an all new way!

Cades Cove Loop Lope is your chance to experience the beauty of Cades Cove in an all new way!

Cades Cove Loop Lope is a Great Smoky Mountain Special Event! The Cades Cove Foot Race (AKA – the Cades Cove Loop Lope) hosted by Friends of the Smokies and the Knoxville Track Club is scheduled for Sunday, November 3, 2019. This exciting race was originally billed as a one time event at it’s inauguration in 2010. Since then it has grown in popularity. Participation is limited to 750 total runners and all participants will be awarded a t-shirt and finishers medallion.

We are very excited to bring this race back to such a beautiful part of our national park,” said, Friends of the Smokies spokesperson. “This is a unique way to experience the splendor of the Cove and raise money to protect it for future generations at the same time.

Friends of the Smokies will provide more than $90,000 for historic preservation and wildlife management programs in Cades Cove and a total of $1.4 million for other critical park projects.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Cassius Cash remarked the race marks an opportunity to connect with the next generation of public lands stewards who are active in our national parks.

We are pleased to work with the Friends to offer this opportunity that supports the park and encourages people to use the park for fitness,” said Superintendent Cash. “The park provides an incredible setting for people to improve mind, body, and spirit.”

Registration begins July 16, 2019 at Participants can choose between the 3.1 mile (5K) or the 10-mile loop routes. Each race is $75.00 to enter.

Carpooling is essential to maximize participation in this race. Only 100 vehicle passes will be available for purchase for an additional $35 fee when registration opens. Registrants who do not purchase a vehicle pass must either carpool with a passholder they know or utilize the group transportation option which will be provided by Friends of the Smokies.

A virtual race can be run (or walked!) anytime, anywhere, even indoors or on a treadmill. Virtual runners will receive a race t-shirt and undated finisher’s medallion via mail, however, they will not be eligible for awards. ***ONLY runners registered for the virtual race will receive t-shirt and medallion via mail. There is no packet mailing for this race.