Cades Cove is the most visited spot in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and these photos will show you why. History, scenery and wildlife are the attractions that make a visit to the Cove an unforgettable experience.
Stop at the Orientation Shelter in the parking area at the entrance to the Loop Road to get information before starting your tour. More information is available at the Visitor Center, which is about halfway along the loop road.
The peak months for visiting the Park are October and July, so if you come then, plan to visit the Cove on a weekday, and arrive early in the morning to avoid the crowds. You can drive, hike or walk along the 11 mile Loop Road.
The road is closed to motor vehicles until 10 am on Wednesdays and Saturdays from early May to late September. If you want to enjoy the Cove on bike or on foot, you might want to take advantage of that opportunity.
The following photos were taken in order while traveling along the one-way loop road. Plan to spend two to four hours touring the Cove, more if traffic is heavy.
A park ranger sells books, maps and guides in the orientation shelter at the entrance to Cades Cove Loop Road in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Horses from Cades Cove Riding Stables graze in a meadow at the entrance to the Loop Road. The Stables are open from April through October, and offer horse rentals, carriage rides and hayrides. Contact them at (865) 448-6286. Other options for Smoky Mountains horseback riding are available in the Park and the surrounding area.
A deer grazes near the path to John Oliver Place. Deer can be easily spotted at the Cove, especially in the mornings and late afternoon. We saw this one at about 9:30 on a Sunday morning in late August.
This deer grazes peacefully, ignoring visitors passing by. He knows these folks won't be looking at him as a lunch entree. Things were quite different when John Oliver bought this land in 1826. I doubt if this deer would have felt so secure back then.
The John Oliver cabin is the oldest log home in Cades Cove, built of hand-hewn logs, notched at the ends and fitted together. Gravity holds the logs in place, and chinks between the logs are filled with mud.
The Methodist Church was built in 1902 to replace the original log building that housed the congregation.
The Visitor Center sells books, maps, guides and souvenirs. It's located in the Cable Mill Historic Area, about halfway around the Loop Road.
The John P. Cable Grist Mill is still in operating condition. You can watch corn being ground here, and purchase bags of cornmeal.
Old mill stones used in the grist mill provide a bit of decoration along a walkway.
The Gregg-Cable House was built in 1879 with lumber milled at John P. Cable's sawmill. The sawmill was powered by the same wheel that powers the grist mill, but the sawmill is no longer standing. The house was moved to this location from its original site on Forge Creek Road.
The cantilever barn features large overhangs, which provided shelter for farm animals and storage for equipment.
Dan Lawson built the original house of hewn logs in 1856. Additions of sawed lumber were made later.
The Carter Shields cabin is set in a pretty spot with a backdrop of woods and stream. The cabin had been home to many different families before Carter Shields, a Civil War veteran, bought it in 1910.