Cades Cove Loop Road
July 20, 2023

One of the most popular destinations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cades Cove welcomes millions of visitors each year to enjoy some of the best activities the Smokies have to offer! When you visit Cades Cove, make sure to take a drive along the scenic Cades Cove Loop Road, a one-way 11-mile drive that takes you past gorgeous overlooks, historic structures, and amazing hiking spots. You could spend all day enjoying the incredible things to do along this road! Here are some of the best things to do when you take a drive along the Cades Cove Loop Road:

1. Explore Historic Structures

John Oliver Cabin in Cades Cove

When you drive along the Cades Cove Loop Road, don’t miss out on the chance to connect with the history of the Smoky Mountains by exploring historic structures located in the area. The first settlers of Cades Cove arrived around the year 1820 and several of the buildings they established still stand today. Visit historic churches, a working grist mill, barns, log houses, and more! You’ll love this opportunity to learn about the fascinating history of the Smoky Mountains by visiting historic buildings at Cades Cove.

2. Visit Scenic Overlooks

There are lots of places to pull off the Cades Cove Loop Road to admire the gorgeous sights of the Smoky Mountains. You can take advantage of these overlooks to get out of the car, stretch, take some photos, and soak in the beauty of the Smokies.

3. Spot Wildlife

black bear climbing a tree in Cades Cove

The Smoky Mountains are home to lots of beautiful and exciting animals, and Cades Cove is one of the best places in the entire National Park to spot wildlife! When you drive the Cades Cove Loop Road, you will have opportunities to see amazing creatures like black bears and white-tailed deer. Additionally, you can spot animals like coyotes, turkeys, groundhogs, and raccoons at Cades Cove! Just remember to stay at least 50 yards away from wildlife at all times — we recommend bringing binoculars or a telescope for easier viewing. Also, be sure to watch the sides of the road for animals while you’re driving and maintain a safe speed!

4. Go Hiking

There are plenty of great spots to pull off the Cades Cove Loop Road and enjoy some of the amazing hiking opportunities of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Check out the Abrams Falls Trail for a 5-mile round-trip hike that features a gorgeous 20-foot waterfall! Or visit some of the other great hiking spots like the Cades Cove Nature Trail and the Rich Mountain Loop Trail. Whichever hike you choose, you’re sure to have an incredible time exploring the natural wonders of the Smokies!

When you embark on a drive along the Cades Cove Loop Road, these adventures and more will be waiting for you! From discovering historic buildings and enjoying gorgeous overlooks to hiking the trails and spotting native wildlife, you’re sure to have a blast exploring the Cades Cove Loop Road. Learn more about things to do at Cades Cove and start planning your next Smoky Mountains adventure today!