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Posted on 3/14/2022

When is Cades Cove Open? Official Operating Hours


Why Visit Cades Cove?

Cades Cove is a valley rich with wildlife, dotted with historic sites, and ringed by a one-way, scenic road. Explore 19th-century homesteads, churches, and grist mills. Watch for bears, coyotes, turkeys, deer, and elk, all easy to spot in the level landscape. The Cove has a ranger station, campsite, picnic area, public riding stables, and visitor’s center. 


Cades Cove Hours

Cades Cove is open daily from sunrise to sunset. 

To see the valley at its quietest, arrive as close to dawn or dusk as you can. You’ll beat traffic and have a better chance of seeing wildlife. Many animals are less active during the day but more active–and more visible–closer to sunrise or just at sunset. Deer are especially easy to spot in the early morning. Bears forage in the early morning and again in the late afternoon.


Visitor Center Hours

The Cades Cove visitor center, located halfway along the 11-mile loop road, is open every day except Christmas. The center opens at 9 a.m. but closing hours vary seasonally. 

At the center, see Cable Mill, a working mill in operation spring through fall. The center offers exhibits about Southern mountain life, plus a bookstore, shop, and restrooms.


Vehicle-Free Wednesdays

Every Wednesday from May 4 through Sept. 28, the Cades Cove loop road is closed to all motor vehicles so pedestrians and cyclists can enjoy the valley. Sunrise-to-sunset hours still apply. 

The riding stables, campground, and picnic area remain open on Vehicle-Free Wednesdays. You can rent bicycles at the campground store but arrive early to avoid waiting. 


Best (and Busiest) Seasons to Visit Cades Cove

Summer and fall are peak tourist seasons here. Turning up on a sunny Saturday in fall is a recipe for sitting in a line of cars along the scenic road. Traveling here in spring, when wildflowers burst into bloom, or winter, when frost decorates trees and grasses, can mean sharing Cades Cove with fewer fellow travelers. 

Cades Cove’s beauty, history, and wildlife make it a fascinating day trip. End your day back at your Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge rental cabin. Browse our convenient cabins now. 

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