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cades cove smokies - MTJP

Cades Cove

Popular loop drive known for its abundance of wildlife

Great Smoky Mountains National Park


This beautiful misty mountain valley is perhaps the most popular spot in the park with its historic cabins, abundant wildlife, including black bears. In the summer and fall cars line up, sometimes by the hundreds, to enter this loop road and glimpse a black bear, or just to take in the spectacular scenery that makes the Smoky Mountains so unique.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Cades Cove is in the fall when the rolling mountains surrounding the valley display their brilliant autumn colors. Even at 5am you’ll deal with crowds here so there’s really no avoiding it. We recommend getting there as early as possible for your best chance to see the abundant wildlife and misty autumn mornings. If you’re totally crowd-averse, winter will provide you with the most solitude.

Things to Note

Cars have been known to line up outside the gate to the 11-mile loop road well before the crack of dawn for their chance to see black bears, other wildlife, and the unspoiled beauty of the area. The park service opens the road at sunrise so keep that in mind. Every Wednesday from June 17th to September 30th are car-free days in Cades Cove where you can hike or bike your way through the area free of traffic and noise.

Cades Cove | Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee & North Carolina

The Great Smoky Mountains Film

This film is the culmination of two weeks exploring Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We chose Great Smoky Mountains as our second ever park film because of it’s extraordinary display of fall colors, it’s incredibly diverse wildlife population, and it’s prominence as the most visited national park in the country. This film was shot entirely in 4K UHD.


Explore more of Great Smoky Mountains

Jim Pattiz

Co-Founder of More Than Just Parks. Filmmaker, Conservationist, Public Lands Enthusiast

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