horses in Cades Cove

Top 3 Things You Need to Know About Visiting Cades Cove in Winter

deer in Cades Cove
November 21, 2023

While winter might be considered the slow season in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this can actually be one of the best times to visit Cades Cove! The Loop Road is open all year round during the daylight hours, and winter visitors enjoy far less traffic along the drive! Also, since Cades Cove is a valley that is surrounded by mountains, it offers some spectacular scenery! If you’re lucky enough to visit when it snows, you’ll be surrounded by a winter wonderland! Here are the top 3 things you need to know about visiting Cades Cove in winter:

1. What’s Open and Closed in the Cove During Winter

Most of Cades Cove is open throughout the winter, including Cades Cove Loop Road as long as there is no inclement weather (you can stay up to date with closures during winter on the National Park Service’s seasonal road closures). Cades Cove Campground is open year-round, which combines the feel of primitive camping with the modern convenience of flush toilets and drinking water. You’ll also find that the Cades Cove Visitor Center is open daily from 9 AM to 4:30 PM during the winter months. This is an excellent place to learn more about the history of the area and talk with some of the park staff. As far as closures, Forge Creek Road is closed seasonally but you can still head out on foot to see the historic grist mill and drive-through barn! Finally, the Cades Cove Riding Stables closed for the season on November 30, so you’ll have to wait until March to go horseback riding again!

2. Winter Weather in Cades Cove

john oliver cabin in the snowAnother one of the top things you need to know about visiting Cades Cove in winter is what to expect as far as the weather! The temperatures generally average about 40 degrees during the day and they fall into the 20s at night. Of course, the weather is unpredictable so you’ll want to dress in layers if you’re planning an outdoor hike or stepping out of the car to see some of the historical buildings. As far as snowfall, it is more likely to snow in January and February, but snow can certainly fall in December too! Always be sure to keep your eye out on the temperature and weather predictions when you plan to visit Cades Cove in winter!

3. Spotting Winter Wildlife in the Cove

Cades Cove is one of the most popular places in Great Smoky Mountains National Park for wildlife viewing! When visiting Cades Cove in winter, you’ll definitely see small wildlife like squirrels and birds. While many of the animals do slow down in the winter, you may see white-tailed deer grazing in the meadow or coyotes darting through the fields. You might even get to see a bear when it comes out of its den to find a snack! You never know what wildlife you may see during your visit, so keep your eyes open for these Cades Cove animals that you can spot during the winter months!

Now that you know the details about visiting Cades Cove in winter, you’re all set to explore this exciting destination in Great Smoky Mountains National Park! Of course, Cades Cove is spectacular every season so here is everything that you need to know about Cades Cove weather throughout the year.

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