horses in Cades Cove

8 Things You Can See Along Cades Cove Loop Road

meadow and mountain view from Cades Cove Loop Road
January 29, 2024

Cades Cove is one of the most popular destinations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and for good reason! This section of the park has so much to see, from beautiful views to historical structures and more. To explore all that Cades Cove has to offer, take a scenic drive along the 11-mile Cades Cove Loop Road. Here are eight things you can see along the way!

1. Beautiful Scenery

One of the best things you can see along Cades Cove Loop Road is stunning natural scenery. The loop takes you through a valley surrounded by beautiful mountains, and you can see everything from mountain views to grassy meadows to lush forests. There are plenty of places where you can stop to take photos of the gorgeous views around you or to simply sit and admire the beauty of nature.

2. Wildlife

black bear on Cades Cove Loop RoadMany people love driving along the Cades Cove Loop for the opportunity to see local wildlife. You have a great chance of seeing white-tailed deer and wild turkeys in the meadows. Other animals you might spot in Cades Cove include birds, raccoons, skunks, groundhogs, squirrels, chipmunks, and more. The most popular resident in Cades Cove that you may get to see is the black bear. If you see a black bear or other wildlife, make sure you keep a safe distance of at least 50 yards and avoid feeding the wildlife.

3. Historical Cabins

There are a number of historical cabins that you can see along Cades Cove Loop Road. These cabins have stood for nearly two centuries and give visitors a glimpse into what life was like for the early settlers. Some of these structures are simple single-room cabins, while others are more complex homes. You can even get out and explore the interior of some of these historical cabins for an up-close look at pioneer life!

4. Historical Churches

Cades Cove Primitive Baptist ChurchThere are three historical churches along the Cades Cove Loop that each have their own fascinating history. These churches include the Missionary Baptist Church, Methodist Church, and Primitive Baptist Church. The early settlers to the area established these churches so they wouldn’t need to travel to the next towns over for Sunday worship. You can admire these historical churches from the road, or get out and explore them to learn more about life in the cove.

5. Cemeteries

If you’re interested in learning more about the history of the Great Smoky Mountains, then you’ll enjoy seeing the cemeteries in Cades Cove. Records suggest there are more than 14 cemeteries in the cove, but only 11 have been found. As you explore Cades Cove Loop Road, you’ll have the chance to see these cemeteries. You can get out and see some of them up close, giving you a glimpse into the lives of the early settlers and a connection to the past.

6. Cades Cove Visitor Center

Cades Cove Visitor CenterYou can stop at the Cades Cove Visitor Center during your drive along Cades Cove Loop Road to learn more about the history of the Smoky Mountains. You can chat with a park ranger and explore free indoor and outdoor historical exhibits. Inside the visitor center you will find the Great Smoky Mountains Association bookstore and shop where you can find information about the history of the national park, popular hiking trails, local wildlife, and more, as well as souvenirs to take back home!

7. The Cable Mill

Near the Cades Cove Visitor Center is one of the most impressive historical structures along the Cades Cove Loop, the Cable Mill. John P. Cable, one of the early settlers in Cades Cove, built this water-powered grist mill and sawmill around 1870. If you visit in the spring or fall, you may even get to see the mill in operation! Near the Cable Mill, you can also explore the Becky Cable House, corn crib, smokehouse, and blacksmith shop.

8. Cantilever Barn

The Tipton Homestead Barn, an important part of Cades Cove history.A unique structure you can find along the Cades Cove Loop is the cantilever barn. This historical structure can be found in the Cable Mill area. Also called the drive thru barn, the cantilever barn has a wide upper loft area that overhangs the lower level of the barn. This overhang is known as a cantilever, and it’s perfect for protecting crops from the elements. The design also allowed farmers to easily drive carriages under the barn to unload hay or feed livestock.

More Reasons to Drive Along Cades Cove Loop Road

These are just some of the exciting things you can see while driving along Cades Cove Loop Road. This is a beautiful section of the national park that offers plenty to see and explore. Find out more reasons why you should drive along Cades Cove Loop Road and start planning your visit today!

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