Cades Cove

Explore historical buildings, abundant wildlife, and a peaceful valley.

Explore historical buildings, abundant wildlife, and a peaceful valley.

Cades Cove

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.

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. An alternative exit from Cades Cove to the North Carolina side is Parsons Branch Road - a one-way gravel road on the back side of the Cades Cove Loop Road and is suitable for vehicles with moderate clearance (gravel road).  The road also provides access to Gregory Bald via the Hannah Mtn. Trail,a popular spot for viewing azalea blooms in early summer. 

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.

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.

Bryson City Day Trips: Adventure through Cades Cove

With six entrances to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, dozens of waterfalls, countless hiking trails and miles of scenic drives at our fingertips, there’s no better home base for adventure than Bryson City. While it’s easy to spend your entire mountain vacation exploring our charming…

Explore More Sections of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Deep Creek

Deep Creek is known as one of the most stunning areas of North Carolina’s Great…


Close to Bryson City in neighboring Cherokee, NC, the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and…


Explore the Smokemont section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You'll…

More Things To Do in Bryson City


Explore the deep history and culture of Bryson City, Western North Carolina and the…