Due to Cades Cove’s popularity as The Great Smoky Mountain National Park’s most compelling attraction, some tips are helpful in planning your trip. Wildlife viewing is almost a given if you tour Cades Cove in the early morning just after sunup or late in the afternoon towards sundown. For your convenience, please note that over 2 million visitors come to the Smoky Mountain’s Cades Cove each year and many of them are aware of the best wildlife viewing times. Want to see the animals anyway? Relax, the thrill of seeing the wildlife in their natural Smoky Mountain environment is well worth the trip and time it takes to see them even if there are more people around than you would like. A trip through Cades Cove is a moving experience you will not soon forget as the Smokies aura most generally makes even the most crowded times in Cades Cove pleasant.
If you are coming to the Smokies and to Cades Cove for a sense of serenity or history, perhaps there are times of the day which are more practical other than the prime wildlife viewing times. Seasons can also affect Smokies visitation numbers. Fall, especially in the month of October, is also a high traffic time in Cades Cove. After October, the traffic lightens considerably and stays light until school lets out in the Spring. Crowds tend to thin again after Labor Day. If you seek serenity and decide to skip Cades Cove for something quieter, Cataloochee valley is a good alternative.
There are far fewer historical stops and you must go over some dirt roads to get there. There are hiking and horseback riding in both Cades Cove and Cataloochee.