If you're visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you'll definitely want to check out Cades Cove. This isolated valley is home to some of the best wildlife watching in the park, and it's a great place to go for a hike or bike ride. Here are five things you need to know before you visit Cades Cove.
1. CADES COVE IS OPEN YEAR ROUND
Cades Cove is open year-round, 365 days a year weather permitting. Unlike other areas of the park such as Clingmans Dome and Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, you can visit Cades Cove during any season, each one showcasing the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains.
2. CADES COVE IS A POPULAR DESTINATION
Over 5 million people visit Cades Cove each and every year, making it one of the most popular destinations in the Smoky Mountains. Due to its popularity, it's best to avoid Cades Cove during peak travel times. Early morning hours and through the week are the best times to avoid large crowds.
3. CADES COVE LOOP IS 11 MILES LONG
Cades Cove is an 11-mile, one-way loop road that takes you on an auto tour of breathtaking scenery, historical sites, hiking trails, and quiet walkways. Visitors to Cades Cove should expect to spend between 2 and 4 hours to complete the entire Cades Cove loop, and longer times if you plan to explore any of these historic structures and hiking trails.
4. YOU CAN CYCLE IN CADES COVE
Cades Cove is closed to automobiles from sunrise to 10 AM on Wednesdays and Saturdays from May to September. During this time, Cades Cove is only accessible to bicyclists and pedestrians.
5. CADES COVE IS OPEN SUNRISE TO SUNSET DAILY
While Cades Cove is open year-round, it can only be accessed from sunrise to sunset daily. Park Rangers keep the gate closed outside of these hours, preventing entry. The best time to see wildlife in Cades Cove, such as black bears, is either early in the morning or late in the evening.