Great Smoky Mountains NP: Cades Cove

Cades Cove is a valley located near the Townsend entrance of Great Smoky Mountain National Park on the Tennessee side. There is a campground and an 11 mile scenic drive. I love that the road is one way and has a bunch of pull offs on either side so you can stop and look at the wildlife and the historic buildings.


Cades Cove is known for its wildlife and it did not disappoint. We saw quite a few deer and a handful of wild turkeys.


Along the scenic drive, there are numbered markers that match up with the Cades Cove Tour booklet that you can purchase for $1. It describes the history of the area and explains what you are seeing at each of the numbered posts.


We parked at the Cades Cove Visitor Center and did the Mill Area Walking Tour. There are a handful of buildings some of which stand in their original locations and others that have been moved from other areas of the park or built recently based on what they would’ve looked like in that time period.


My favorite building was the John. P Cable Grist Mill, which is in its original location and still produces cornmeal. There was a National Park employee stationed inside operating the mill and answering any questions. There was even a stool so you could look in and watch the corn be ground up. It was fun!



From May to September on Wednesdays and Saturdays till 10 AM the Cades Cove Loop Road is closed to motor vehicles so that bicyclists can enjoy the 11 miles of scenery – I applaud those who ride the road, some of those hills looked steep!

Visiting Cades Cove is a great way to learn about the people who called the Smoky Mountains home before it became a National Park.

Our next stop was Clingmans Dome, read about that adventure here.