Top 4 Reasons Why You Need to Drive the Cades Cove Loop Road
While it is impossible to see everything in the Smokies in just one trip, the destination that should be at the top of everyone’s list is Cades Cove Loop Road! This 11-mile road provides a scenic one-way trip through the cove, a beautiful valley that is surrounded by mountains. However, the gorgeous scenery is just part of what makes this section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park so special! We break down the reasons why you need to drive the Cades Cove Loop Road on your next Smoky Mountain vacation below:
1. Wildlife Viewing Opportunities
The Cades Cove Loop Road provides one of the best places for viewing wildlife in Great Smoky Mountains National Park! If you have your heart on seeing a black bear, there is a good possibility that you just might see one here! Sightings of white-tailed deer are quite common, and keep your eyes peeled for coyotes, groundhogs, turkeys, raccoons, and skunks. Bring a pair of binoculars along for the ride, and be sure to scan the trees as many animals like to spend the day lounging in the branches!
2. Unique Historical Structures
Another reason why you need to drive the Cades Cove Loop Road is to explore the history of the Smokies! This area offers the widest variety of historic buildings within the national park, including several churches, a working grist mill, barns, log houses, and many other 18th and 19th structures. The National Park Service maintains these structures standing in Cades Cove so they maintain the appearance as they did in the early days of the settlers.
3. Fun Hiking Trails
Enjoying the scenery, historic structures, and wildlife viewing aren’t the only activities you can enjoy in the cove. There are multiple fun hiking trails that start along Cades Cove Loop Road too! One of the most popular hikes is the 5 mile round trip trail to Abrams Falls, a stunning 20-foot waterfall that is named for a Cherokee Chief whose village once stood a few miles downstream. If you prefer an easier hike, consider the Cades Cove Nature Trail that features the remains of a chestnut grove and lots of oaks, dogwoods, sourwoods, and pine trees. Whether you are a group of experienced hikers or a family with young children, there is a hike for everyone in Cades Cove!
4. Wonderful Visitor Center
The Cades Cove Loop Road features the Cades Cove Visitor Center, a wonderful facility located around the midpoint of the road. This is not only a convenient place to stop to use the restrooms, but it also provides a chance to explore some fascinating indoor and outdoor exhibits of southern mountain life and culture! The Cades Cove Visitor Center also features a variety of ranger-led programs throughout the year, as well as a bookstore and shop with plenty of great information about the area!
More About Cades Cove
Cades Cove is popular because of it’s breathtaking scenery, wildlife viewing opportunities, and historic structures. It’s no wonder that this valley is the most visited destination within the national park. Unlike other areas of the park, Cades Cove is the only area within the bounds that actually closes at night. It is also one of the only scenic drives in the Smoky Mountains that has designated days for pedestrians to walk around! Learn more about vehicle free days along the Cades Cove Loop here!