Welcome to Cades Cove
There's something about the morning light in Cades Cove. With mountain-flanked meadows aglow under the golden rays, and deer, turkeys and black bears cavorting in the shimmering grasses, the scene is memorably enchanting. Unfortunately, with two million visitors exploring this valley every year, immersing yourself in that magic can be a challenge, particularly in summer and fall when bumper-to-bumper traffic jams the 11-mile loop road. The one-way road encircles land used as a hunting ground by the Cherokee before English, Scots-Irish and German settlers arrived in the 1820s. These determined newcomers built cabins and churches while clearing the valley's trees for farmland. Mills, forges and blacksmith shops soon followed, creating a thriving community. Today the creaky cabins, mossy spring houses, weathered barns and tidy cemeteries whisper the stories of the families who made this place their home. You'll hear them best if you arrive before 9am.