Wildlife and Historic Buildings in a Peaceful Valley Setting
Explore Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This expansive, beautiful valley is surrounded by the towering peaks of the Smokies and is one of the best spots to spy wildlife, including whitetail deer, bears, coyotes and others.
Located two hours from downtown Bryson City, the drive out to Cades Cove takes you along Newfound Gap Road through the highest peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and then along Little River Road. Lined with towering trees and stunning overlooks, you’ll enjoy this journey so much that you won’t even realize how much time has passed. Along the way, stop at Oconaluftee Visitor Center, Mingus Mill, Oconaluftee Valley Overlook, Newfound Gap, and Morton Overlook, just to name a few of our favorite places in the Park.
Cades Cove offers the widest variety of historic buildings of any area in the national park. Scattered along the loop road are three churches, a working grist mill, barns, log houses, and many other faithfully restored eighteenth and nineteenth century structures. Pick up the self-guiding tour booklet available at the entrance to the loop road for information about the buildings you'll see in the cove and the people who lived here.
Once you arrive at Cades Cove, an 11-mile loop awaits.Several structures still stand from the days when European colonists first came to the area. Churches, a working grist mill, barns, log houses and other historic buildings can be found during your exploration. Hiking trails are also abundant at Cades Cove, with some treks stretching all the way up to Thunderhead Mountain. Campgrounds are located onsite for those wanting to extend their adventure here. From May through September, Cades Cove Loop Road is closed to vehicles on Wednesdays, which allows pedestrians and bicyclists more access to roam the grounds.