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.

The first Europeans settled in the cove sometime between 1818 and 1821, and by the 1830s some 271 residents called the cove home. It proved a good choice. Sheltered by the surrounding Smoky Mountains, the valley provided fertile soil for crops and the broad meadows were ideal for raising livestock. Residents quickly learned to clear land, build cabins and barns, plant gardens and raise cattle, horses and goats. The next task included harvesting and preserving both crops and meat in order to survive the long winters. Although the early arrivals were mostly self-sustaining they often traveled to the nearest town of Maryville to purchase medicines and other necessities. Eventually the cove was home to a general store where residents could purchase yard-goods, kerosene, salt, hardware and other day-to-day necessities, using either cash or bartering. Settlers enjoyed a good life and worshipped, married, raised families and many were eventually buried in one of the three churchyards located in the cove. The history, traditions and legacy of those settlers were preserved when Cades Cove became part the Great Smoky Mountain National Park which was established on June 15, 1934.

A verdant valley surrounded by mountains, the cove is one of the most popular destinations in the Great Smokies. It also provides one of the best opportunities for wildlife viewing in the park. Large numbers of white-tailed deer are often seen and black bear, coyote, ground hog, turkey raccoon, skunk and other wild life frequently make appearances.

Cable Mill is one of the many jewels of Cades Cove.

Cable Mill is one of the many jewels of Cades Cove.

Cades Cove’s 11-mile scenic loop winds alongside three churches and connecting graveyards, a working grist mill, cantilevered barns, log houses, and many other restored eighteenth and nineteenth-century structures. Names of the homes, along with a brief history are listed in a self-guiding booklet available at the entrance to the loop.

A visitor center, located midway in the Cable Mill Historic Center, home to a gristmill, farmhouse, barns, smokehouse and other related farm buildings, provides a perfect spot to rest and perhaps picnic. The site is open daily except Christmas. Restrooms and a small gift store are on site.

Cades Cove in the Smokies is the perfect spot for a picnic! Photo credit:

Cades Cove in the Smokies is the perfect spot for a picnic! Photo credit:

Allow at least two-four hours to tour the cove, longer if you walk some of area’s trail. Traffic is heavy during peak season in summer and fall and on weekends year-round. While driving please be courteous and use pullouts when pausing to enjoy scenery or view wildlife. NOTE: Only bicycles and foot traffic are allowed on the loop road until 10 a.m. every Saturday and Wednesday morning from early May until late September. Other times the road is open to motor vehicles from sunrise to sunset daily, weather permitting.

Cades Cove car ban allows you to take a break without all the noise and traffic.

Biking is a great way to experience Cades Cove.

So, whether you drive, bike or walk, Cades Cove offers a lingering glimpse of what life was like not so very long ago. Drive by the churches and listen for the spirited notes of a hymn or, perhaps, the poignant sound of men with shovels hand-digging a grave in an adjoining graveyard; pass cabins and imagine wood-fire smoke drifting from a kitchen fire as the lady of the house prepares a noonday meal. Gaze up a small babbling brook and look quickly to see if small children are still there searching for tadpoles. You may not see or hear any of these things, BUT, you never will if you don’t try.

BIKING: One of the best and most leisurely ways to enjoy the cove is by hiking or by bike when the loop is closed to motor vehicles until 10.a.m. every Saturday and Wednesday morning from early May until late September. No worries if you did not bring a bike. Cades Cove Campground Store offers sturdy, comfortable bikes for rent. Be mindful (even if your bring your own set of wheels) the State of Tennessee requires that all children age 16 and under MUST wear helmets and we strongly urge all riders to do the same as the cove is home to some narrow, steep and winding hills. Riders (and hikers) must follow all traffic regulations.

HIKING: Numerous trailheads can be found in the Cove. One of our favorites is the five-mile roundtrip trail to Abrams Falls. It is a moderate hike that winds along a rushing stream and features a beautiful view of the falls. The short Cades Cove Nature Tail provides a nice leisurely stroll. If you are looking for a more challenging experience, take the hike to Thunderhead Mountain or Rocky Top (made famous for the song of the same name.)


* Cades Cove Campground is open year round

* 150 sites

* Tents and RVs up to 35 feet

* To reserve sites (highly recommended and the earlier the better) call 877-444-6777 or visit


Anthony Creek Horse Camp

* To reserve site, call 877-444-6777 or visit


* Reservations and permit required

* For information, call 865-436-1297


* From Cherokee-57

* From Gatlingburg-27 miles

* From Townsend- 9 miles

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