horses in Cades Cove

Discover 7 Shocking Cades Cove Secrets

Front Tipton Place
September 22, 2023

Cades Cove is a must-stop destination in the Smoky Mountains for many people. It’s known for its beautiful scenery, abundance of wildlife, and rich history. Even though Cades Cove is a popular spot that’s explored by many visitors, there are still some aspects of the area that aren’t well known. Here are a few Cades Cove secrets that you’ve most likely never heard before!

1. Cades Cove used to be called Kate’s Cove.

Cades Cove has had many names over the course of history. The Cherokee Indians used to call the area “Tsiya’hi,” which means “Otter Place.” One of the biggest Cades Cove secrets comes afterwards when the first early European settlers arrived. These settlers wanted to honor the Chilhowee tribe, so they renamed the area Kate’s Cove after Chief Abraham’s wife, Kate. The name was later changed to Cades Cove to honor Chief Cade, the Tsiya’hi leader.

2. Native Americans never lived in Cades Cove.

Fall Colors in Cades CoveOne of the Cades Cove secrets that’s contrary to popular belief is that no Native Americans ever lived in Cades Cove. Though the Cherokee Indians had a name for the area, there is no archaeological evidence to suggest that they ever lived here. There is, however, evidence that shows they used the area for hunting for hundreds of years. That means the European settlers were the first to actually establish residency here back in 1821.

3. Some historic buildings in Cades Cove are not in their original location.

It’s easy to assume that the historic buildings scattered throughout Cades Cove are still sitting where they were originally built. However, many of these buildings have been moved or even brought in from elsewhere in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The John P. Cable Mill is one of only a few buildings still in its original location.

4. Cades Cove is the most popular destination in the national park.

woman biking in cades coveThis is a Cades Cove secret that’s probably not very surprising. Cades Cove is the single most popular destination to visit in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This section of the park sees thousands of visitors each day and approximately 5 million visitors each year. That’s because people love experiencing the natural beauty and history that can be found along Cades Cove Loop Road.

5. The current Cades Cove entrance is not the original entrance.

This may be one of the most shocking of all the Cades Cove secrets. The Cades Cove entrance that we currently use was not built until after the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established in 1934. For over 100 years before that, residents and visitors used five narrow, unpaved roads to enter and exit Cades Cove. These roads were Crib Gap Road, Rich Mountain Road, Cooper Road, Rabbit Creek Road, and Parsons Branch. Some of these roads are now hiking trails that you can explore when you visit.

6. Cades Cove is the only section of the national park that closes at night.

Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church at nightYou can access most of the national park no matter the time of day. Cades Cove is the only exception. This is the only section of the national park that closes at night. At sunset, the gate at the main entrance closes so no one can enter after dark. If you find yourself still in Cades Cove after the gate closes, don’t worry–there’s another exit on the Cades Cove Loop Road that you can take!

7. Cades Cove has the only working grist mill on the Tennessee side of the national park.

The John P. Cable Mill is the only working grist mill on the Tennessee side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This grist mill can be found in Cades Cove and is still in its original location. When you visit, you’ll have the chance to tour through the mill and watch as grains like wheat and corn are ground down into flour and cornmeal. You can even purchase these products at the Cades Cove Visitor Center!

Learn More Interesting Facts About Cades Cove

Now you know some of the least-known Cades Cove secrets. If you’re interested in learning more about Cades Cove, check out these interesting facts about the Cades Cove Loop! There’s so much to learn about this unique part of the national park!

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