Ultimate Guide to the Cades Cove Drive: Scenic Routes and Tips

Ultimate Guide to the Cades Cove Drive: Scenic Routes and Tips

The Cades Cove Drive

Spending a day on the Cades Cove drive is a must for every visitor to the Smoky Mountains. This 11-mile loop offers breathtaking views, abundant wildlife, and rich history. From scenic overlooks to historic buildings, the Cades Cove drive immerses you in the beauty and heritage of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Getting to Cades Cove

From Gatlinburg to Cades Cove

Starting your journey from Gatlinburg? Follow these steps:

  1. Head along the main Parkway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  2. Pass the Sugarlands Visitor Center and take a right onto Little River Road.
  3. Stay on Little River Road for about 25 miles of winding, beautiful roads.
  4. The road dead-ends into Cades Cove.

From Pigeon Forge to Cades Cove

Traveling from Pigeon Forge offers two main routes:

Route 1: Through Gatlinburg

  1. Follow the Pigeon Forge Parkway to Gatlinburg.
  2. Then, use the directions from Gatlinburg to Cades Cove as mentioned above.

Route 2: Via Wears Valley Road

  1. Take Wears Valley Road to Townsend.
  2. Enter the park through the Lyon Springs Road entrance.
  3. Follow Little River Road to Laurel Creek Road, leading to Cades Cove.

This second route is usually quicker if you’re already in Pigeon Forge.

What to See on the Cades Cove Drive

The Cades Cove drive is a treasure trove of natural beauty and historical sites. Here are some highlights:

  • Scenic Overlooks: Capture stunning panoramic views of the Smoky Mountains. The changing seasons offer unique photo opportunities.
  • Wildlife Viewing: Spot white-tailed deer, black bears, wild turkeys, and more. Early mornings and late afternoons are the best times for wildlife observation.
  • Historic Buildings: Explore preserved structures like the John Oliver Cabin, Cable Mill, and various historic churches. Each site tells a story of the cove’s rich history.
caughron barn cades cove

Tips for an Enjoyable Drive

To make the most of your Cades Cove drive, consider these tips:

  • Start Early: Arrive early to avoid crowds and maximize wildlife sightings.
  • Bring Binoculars: Enhance your wildlife viewing experience.
  • Pack a Picnic: Enjoy a meal amidst nature at designated picnic areas.
  • Stay on Marked Paths: Protect the natural environment and stay safe.

Additional Activities in Cades Cove

Beyond the drive, Cades Cove offers numerous activities:

Sharing Your Cades Cove Photography

Historical Sites and Structures

Cades Cove is rich in history with many historical buildings to explore:

  • John Oliver Historical Cabin
  • Primitive Baptist Church
  • Methodist Church
  • Carter Shields Cabin
  • Missionary Baptist Church
  • Elijah Oliver Place
  • The Tipton Place
  • Henry Whitehead Place
  • Dan Lawson Cabin

These sites offer a glimpse into the lives of the early settlers who called Cades Cove home. Be sure to read about the history behind each building for a greater appreciation of the area.

Visitor Center and Amenities

Halfway through the Loop, make a point to stop at the Cades Cove Visitor Center. Here you can pick up souvenirs, maps, and other locally made products. Nearby, you’ll find the John P. Cable Grist Mill, a must-see for history lovers.

Cade Cove Visitor Center

Plan Your Visit

Plan your visit to Cades Cove with the following resources:

The Cades Cove drive is more than just a scenic route; it’s a journey through time and nature. Whether you’re a history buff, a wildlife enthusiast, or simply seeking tranquility, Cades Cove offers something for everyone. Plan your trip today and create unforgettable memories in one of the most beautiful parts of the Great Smoky Mountains.

For more tips and detailed guides, explore our Cades Cove Blog. Enjoy your adventure!