horses in Cades Cove

What are the Best Times to Visit Cades Cove

A brilliant photo of Cades Cove at sunset.
January 11, 2020

No matter the time of year that you visit, Cades Cove is always beautiful and each trip is unique! But even Cades Cove has times throughout the year that it becomes very busy. Plus, you might want to know when the best time to see wildlife is so you know when to visit. Learn the best times to visit Cades Cove if you want to avoid traffic, want to see wildlife, or take some stunning photos of the area!

Throughout the Year

Cades Cove during summerYou can expect traffic during any major holiday or holiday weekend. Late April to October is peak visiting time for the area. In spring you can expect to see beautiful spring flowers everywhere, and during the fall the mountains come alive with changing leaf colors. While you may not like traffic, fall is one of the best times to visit Cade Cove! November, January, February, and March are the slowest months of the year, with the exception of December picking back up. The winter months are slower, and you have the chance to see snow in Cades Cove, as long as the roads are safe, which is a spectacular sight to see!

Daily Hours

sunset cades coveCades Cove is open year round and daily, weather permitting. However, the Cades Cove Loop Road only allows bicycle and foot traffic on Wednesdays through Sept. 30. Otherwise, the road is open to motor vehicles from sunrise to sunset daily. Learn more about Cades Cove hours before you go!

There are 3 “golden” times to visit Cades Cove throughout the day:

  1. Early in the morning. You can expect less traffic and to see more wildlife like deer and bears. If you make it to Cades Cove at sunrise you can capture some great pictures!
  2. In the middle of the day. During the heat of the day or lunchtime traffic tends to slow down.
  3. In the late afternoon. Around 5 traffic slows down again and you can often see wildlife during this time. This is also a great time to take pictures in the Cove.

When You’ll See Wildlife:

Wildlife can be spotted in Cades Cove throughout the entire year! If you are hoping to see deer, early in the morning and very late in the afternoon are the best times to spot them. If you are looking to spot black bears, the best times are late afternoons. Moreover, bears are spotted most often in late spring, early summer, and late fall. However, bears can be spotted in the mornings and throughout the afternoon, so don’t become discouraged if traveling to the Cove late in the day doesn’t fit your time schedule.

Things to do in Cades Cove

  • Visit the Cades Cove Visitor Center! The visitor center is open daily, expect on Christmas Day. The hours of operation vary depending on available sunlight throughout the year.
  • Ride a bicycle around the loop.
  • Go horseback riding at the Cades Cove Stables.
  • Enjoy a picnic.
  • Explore the historic buildings! See if you can visit and spot everything along the Cades Cove loop with our scavenger hunt.

Now that you know the best times to visit Cades Cove, find out what the weather in Cades Cove is like throughout the year so you can be prepared for your visit!

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