Essential Tips for Visiting Cades Cove

visiting Cades Cove

Here are some trip saving tips for visiting Cades Cove! OK, maybe not trip saving, but knowing them will certainly make your trip a little easier – maybe even better.

Don’t Feed the Animals

black bears in Cades Cove

One of the first tips for visiting Cades Cove, is: please do not feed the animals. There are numerous reasons for this, and hopefully by now this is commonly understood theme. But, in a nutshell, it’s for everyone’s safety as well as the safety, health and preservation of the beautiful wild animals at the park. If at any point a wild animal changes behavior upon seeing you, they need more space. Read more information about wildlife encounters and safety.

Do Not Block the Roadway

traffic in Cades Cove

Do not block the roadway. This is the quickest way to get some negative vibes coming your way, and that’s the last thing anyone wants while their trying to take in the peacefulness of Mother Nature. It can get quite busy in the Cove, pretty much any time of year, and everyone enjoys going at their own pace. If you see that you are driving at a slower pace than someone behind you, the polite thing to do and the common road etiquette at the Cove is to pull over and let them pass. Also, avoid sudden stops! It may be tempting when you spot something amazing, but try to be aware of those around you and how a sudden stop can impact others. Bottom line: be cautious and courteous.

Manage Expectations

traffic in Cades Cove

Expect traffic. Approximately, 9 million people visit the Smokies every year, and the Cove is one of the most popular places to visit with in the Smokies with nearly 2 million people visiting per year. Being able to manage your expectations in this regard will come in handy. The Cove is a busy place, almost all year round. Fall, in general, is the busiest. You can expect the Cove to be crowded from early June until late August. Weekends typically attract the most visitors, and October is the typical peak in the number of visitors the Cove sees. Weekdays might be the best idea if you visit in the fall. Expect the loop to take you at least 2 to 4 hours.

There are NO gas stations and NO restaurants. This is especially important if you have young family members in tow. You’ll want to make sure you fill up the car and bring along the sustenance you feel you will need.

Bathroom Note

It is good to note, as well, that the bathrooms are located at the amphitheater near the campground, and half way around the loop at the visitor center (see map below).bathroom map for Cades Cove

Author: Annika Darling

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