Located approximately halfway up Cades Cove’s 11-mile loop road, the Cades Cove Visitor Center sits within the historic Cable Mill area of the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. Originally inhabited by the Cherokee, the area was eventually settled by pioneers in the 1820s. These early pioneers found the land suitable for growing corn and within a few years, the small settlement grew into a thriving community centered around a mill. At its peak, the Cable Mill region was home to a blacksmith, distillery, post office, churches and many homesteads.
Luckily for today’s visitors, much of the original settlement has been preserved under the supervision of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A trip to the Cades Cove Visitor Center is a great starting point for exploring the Cable Mill and surrounding Cades Cove areas. Inside, visitors will find maps, booklets and informational brochures, which help shed light on navigation through Cades Cove and the park itself. In addition, there is a gift shop full of souvenirs, books, t-shirts and more. Park rangers can also often be found within the visitor center and are happy to answer questions about the park from tourists.
While the visitor center was built in the 1970s, many of the buildings surrounding it are from the mid-1800s and are open to visitors. Built in 1879, the Gregg-Cable House is a popular attraction near the visitor’s center. Originally set up as a general store, the Cable family operated the store on the ground floor of the house while occupying the second floor. The home is considered to be the first frame home built in Cades Cove and has stood up well over the decades.
In addition to the Gregg-Cable House, there are a number of other historic buildings that have been transported from all over Cades Cove to the Cable Mill area for the convenience of visitors. After a stop at the visitor center, tourists are welcome to view the local barn, corn crib, smokehouse and old molasses furnace. The fully-functioning Grist Mill is perhaps the area’s largest attraction. Built in the 1860s, the mill is still fully operational and is run by a miller daily. Visitors are welcome to tour the mill and can even purchase the corn flour it produces.
The visitor center is open daily, with the only exception being Christmas day. Opening hours vary by season, but the center generally opens at 9:00 am, closing at 4:30 pm and 7:00 pm in the winter and summer respectively. Access to the visitor center, restrooms and paths around the Cable Mill area are wheelchair accessible. Pets are not allowed in the center, surrounding fields or any of the historic buildings in the Cable Mill area. If visiting in the summer, keep in mind that the Cable Mill area and Cades Cove Visitor Center can become very busy. Due to the nature of the roads, snow can lead to the closure of the visitor center in the winter. However, so long as the weather permits, the Cades COve Visitor Center if open year round.
Open every day except Christmas Day.
|January||9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.|
|February||9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.|
|March||9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.|
|April – August||9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.|
|September – October||9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.|
|November||9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.|
|December||9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.|
Location of Cades Cove Visitor center
About half way through the Cades Cove Loop Road.
Special Park Programs
The Visitor Center offers programs seasonally which are led by the Park rangers. Check in with visitor center for times.
The Cades Cove Visitor Center houses Indoor and outdoor exhibits of Appalachian life and culture. Exhibits include Cable Mill, the grist mill which still operates from the Spring through Fall, the Cable house, and several other historic structures throughout the cove.