horses in Cades Cove

4 Reasons to Drive the Cades Cove Scenic Loop

Cades Cove Loop Road on a cloudy summer day
December 1, 2016

One of the most popular and highly visited spots in the Great Smoky Mountains is Cades Cove. During a visit to Cades Cove, you’ll have the chance to hike the trails, take a bike ride, enjoy a picnic with your family or even pop a tent and spend the night. You’ll also love the 11-mile Cades Cove scenic loop that you can tour in your vehicle. Driving the loop allows you to see the sights and enjoy the views all from the comfort of your car, making it a fun activity for any time of year. Read on to learn our 4 favorite reasons why you need to make plans to drive the Cades Cove loop during your next Smoky Mountain vacation!

1. See Wildlife and Native Animals

The black bear is the most famous Cades Cove wildlife.

One of our favorite things about the Cades Cove scenic loop is that this drive allows you to take in some breathtaking mountain views, including once in a lifetime views of native Smoky Mountain critters in their natural habitat. Some of the animals that you might get the chance to see include deer, birds, raccoons, bears and wildcats, and the animals that you’re likely to see will change with each season. Observing these animals from your car is a good way to keep both you and the critters feeling safe and at ease. For more tips on the best ways to spot these animals, read our blog 6 Essential Tips for Cades Cove Wildlife Viewing. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars!

2. Great Activity All Year Long

Some of the most popular Cades Cove activities, such as hiking, biking and enjoying a picnic, are most fun in the milder spring and fall temperatures, but driving the Cades Cove scenic loop is great for any time of year! Whether you’re trying to stay toasty in your warm vehicle or you’re desperate for a break from the summer heat, the 11-mile loop is a wonderful way to take in the sights during every season. During the summer months you’ll see lush, green trees and plants and some bright, colorful wildflowers, and during the winter you’ll have clear views of the snowy mountain tops. It’s the most laid back way to enjoy the scenery!

3. See Historic Landmarks

The John Oliver Cabin, an important part of Cades Cove history.

Another great thing about driving the Cades Cove scenic loop is that you’ll get the chance to see some of the oldest buildings in the Smokies, which were built by the earliest settlers in the 1800s. You’ll see gristmills, cabins and churches, some of which have been renovated and some stand in their original condition, but they all have a rich and interesting history. To learn about the most popular area landmarks, read our blog 5 Stops on the Cades Cove Tour You Have to See.

4. Stop for Photo Ops

Whether you are a professional photographer or just love taking photos as a hobby, the Cades Cove scenic loop is the most beautiful place in the Smokies to stop and take pictures. The wildlife is blooming, the critters are going about their daily routines and the mountains are tall and majestic, providing incredible photo ops in every season. There are several great spots along the loop to pull over and get some amazing shots, so be sure to give yourself several hours to enjoy the experience! For more tips on taking award worthy pictures on the loop, read our blog 6 Tips for Becoming a Cades Cove Photography Master.

Plan your trip to the Cades Cove scenic loop today for a breathtaking, once in a lifetime Smoky Mountain experience!

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