horses in Cades Cove

5 Tips on Making Your Drive Along Cades Cove Loop Road Safe & Enjoyable

cades cove road
June 25, 2024

Cades Cove Loop Road is one of the most popular destinations in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and for good reason, as it features spectacular scenery, historical buildings, excellent wildlife viewing opportunities, and more! Since so many people love visiting the Cove, it can get busy during peak times, and you’ll want to drive safely while exploring the loop! Here are the top 5 tips on making your drive along Cades Cove Loop Road both safe and enjoyable:

1. Get an Early Start

There is nothing more important than getting an early start to your drive along Cades Cove Loop Road! This allows you to beat the majority of the traffic and finish your drive while most of the folks are still arriving! As a bonus, early mornings are one of the best times to spot bears, deer, and other wildlife when it is most active! Cades Cove is open year-round from sunrise to sunset, so set your alarm early and beat the crowds - this is especially important on weekend days!

2. Keep a Safe Distance from Wildlife

black bear in Cades Cove

Another one of the top tips for making your drive along Cades Cove Loop Road both safe and enjoyable is to keep a safe distance from wildlife! While it may be tempting to approach a bear for a photograph, this is both dangerous and forbidden. Note that willfully approaching within 150 yards feet (or any distance that disturbs or displaces a bear) is illegal in the park. Remember that bears are wild and unpredictable animals, so these rules are for your safety and theirs!

3. Watch Out for Bicyclists and Pedestrians

While it may seem obvious to watch out for bicyclists and pedestrians while driving, it is easy to become distracted by all of the sights along Cades Cove Loop Road! When navigating the road, always be aware of the activity taking place around you. The speed limit on the road is 20 miles per hour, but you may often find yourself going even slower due to the volume of traffic. Just remember that there is no rush and that you’ll want to allow about 2 full hours to complete the loop!

4. Check the Weather Forecast

Cades Cove Loop Road

Always check the weather forecast before heading out for your drive on Cades Cove Loop Road! The area is known for sudden thunderstorms, so you’ll want to come with proper rain gear if you plan to stop and explore any of the hiking trails.

5. Don’t Pack Too Much into One Day

Cades Cove is a beautiful area, and it can be overwhelming to squeeze everything into a single day! Although the Loop Road is just 11 miles long, there are plenty of hiking trails and historic structures that are worth the stop. Therefore, when planning your visit, select one or two things that you really want to see and concentrate on those. Remember that you still want some energy to drive back home safely, and you can always return!

While you can drive along Cades Cove Loop Road on most days, you can also take advantage of vehicle-free Wednesdays during the summer months! This is a unique opportunity for pedestrians and cyclists to enjoy Cades Cove without having to share the road with cars! Check out these top tips on how to safely enjoy vehicle-free Wednesdays on Cades Cove Loop Road.

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