Cades Cove

Flowers in the foreground and a rolling mountain view in the background.

NPS Photo

Cades Cove is a scenic valley surrounded on all sides by mountains south of Townsend, Tennessee. A popular 11-mile one-way loop road encircling the valley provides access to hiking trails, opportunities for wildlife viewing, and chances to explore the many historic homesites, cemeteries, and churches. The area also holds a visitor center, campground, picnic area, and riding stable.

Rule of Thumb for viewing wildlife.  A hand is held out with a thumb up.  a bear is in the distance.  Text: when viewing wildlife, hold your arm out straight and, if you can't cover the animal in your line of sight with your thumb, you're too close!
Are you too close? Approaching wildlife endangers both humans and wildlife. Even turkeys have been known to attack humans in the Smokies, so be a friend to wildlife, and keep your distance.

Smokies Life Graphic/Emma Oxford

Touring the Cove

Vehicle-free access along the Cades Cove Loop Road takes place each Wednesday from May through September.

An 11-mile, one-way loop road circles the cove, offering motorists the opportunity to sightsee at a leisurely pace. Allow at least two to four hours to tour Cades Cove, longer if you walk some of the area's trails. Traffic is heavy during the tourist season in summer and fall and on weekends year-round. While driving the loop road, please be courteous to other visitors and use pullouts when stopping to enjoy the scenery or view wildlife.


Places to Go in Cades Cove

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    Things to Do in Cades Cove

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      Visitor Center & Campground Information




      The valley has a rich history. For hundreds of years, Cherokee Indians hunted in Cades Cove but archeologists have found no evidence of major settlements. The first Europeans settled in the cove sometime between 1818 and 1821. By 1830, the population of the area had already swelled to 271. Cades Cove offers the widest variety of historic buildings of any area in the national park.

      Scattered along the loop road are three churches, a working gristmill, barns, log houses, and many other faithfully restored eighteenth- and nineteenth-century structures. Pick up the self-guiding tour booklet available at the entrance to the loop road for information about the buildings you'll see in the cove and the people who lived here.

      Cades Cove Story book

      Cades Cove Story
      Learn about farming, home life, religion, and recreation in the fascinating history of this beautiful, lively mountain community. Contains historic photos.

      The cover of the Cades Cove auto tour booklet. White text says "Cades Cove Tour" with an image behind the text of two people walking on a paved road beside a fence. Trees showing fall colors are in the background.

      Self-Guiding Auto Tour Booklet Cades Cove
      Keyed to numbered posts or landmarks along the Cades Cove Loop Road, this tour booklet describes the history of the Cove and describes the homes, barns, churches, Cable Mill, and other historic buildings you'll see in the area. It features historic photographs and illustrations that show what life was like a century ago.

      Books, maps and guides to the national park are available online from the park's nonprofit partner, the Great Smoky Mountains Association.

      Day Hikes In and Around Cades Cove
      Map and guide with descriptions of the nine best day hikes in the Cades Cove area. Full color topo map and elevation charts.


      Visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park's official online store for books, maps, and guides to the park. Operated by the nonprofit Smokies Life, proceeds generated by purchases at the store are donated to educational, scientific, and historical projects in the park.

      Last updated: May 30, 2024

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      107 Park Headquarters Road
      Gatlinburg, TN 37738



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