Great Smoky Mtns. National Park Travel Guide

Great Smoky Mtns. National Park Sights

Cades Cove Loop Road

  • Cades Cove Loop Rd. Map It
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Scenic Drive/Tour
  • Fodor's Choice

Published 07/23/2015

Fodor's Review

This 11-mi loop through Cades Cove is the most popular route in the park and arguably the most scenic part of the entire Smokies. The one-way, one-lane paved road starts 7.3 mi from the Townsend entrance. Stop at the orientation shelter at the start of the loop and pick up a Cades Cove Tour booklet ($1.50). The drive begins with views over wide pastures to the mountains at the crest of the Smokies. Few other places in the Appalachians offer such views across wide valley bottoms with hayfields and wildflower meadows, framed by split-rail fences and surrounded by tall mountains. Along the way, you'll pass three 19th-century churches and many restored houses, log cabins, and barns. All are open for exploration. A highlight of the loop road, about midway, is the Cable Mill area, with a visitor center, working water-powered gristmill, and a restored farmstead. The Cades Cove Loop Road is also an excellent place to see wildlife, including black bears (especially in late summer and fall), white-tailed

deer, and wild turkeys. The road, open year-round, is closed from sunset to sunrise. On Wednesday and Saturday mornings until 10 am the loop is open only to bicyclists and walkers. On almost any day, and especially on weekends, you can expect traffic delays, as passing points on the one-way road are few and far between, and if just one vehicle stops, scores of vehicles behind it also have to stop and wait. Allow at least two to three hours just to drive the loop, longer if you want to stop and explore the historic buildings. If you get frustrated with delays, there are two points at which you can cut across the loop on improved gravel roads, exiting sooner. A campground and picnic area open year-round are near the beginning point of the Loop Road, and a horse camp is nearby.

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  • Log Cabin, Cade's Cove Loop Road, Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

    George Allen Penton / Shutterstock

Sight Information


Cades Cove Loop Rd., Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina, 37882, United States

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Published 07/23/2015


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