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Cades Cove Visitor Center picture in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
NPS

Key Info

Details

  • Sightseeing, Tours Type
  • 1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.5
Overall
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  • Value
    5.0
  • Facilities
    4.0
  • Atmosphere
    4.5

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The Cades Cove Visitor Center is located about midway on the 11-mile, one-way Cades Cove Loop Road. One of the most popular areas in the park, the Cades Cove valley is known for its abundant wildlife, including white-tailed deer, black bears, turkeys, raccoons and other animals. The visitor center features both indoor and outdoor exhibits detailing Southern mountain life. Visit the Cable Mill, a gristmill that operates in the spring, summer and fall, and the historic Becky Cable House, or explore the exhibits inside the center and view a short film on the area. Several ranger-led programs are available seasonally and the visitor center offers a bookstore, public restrooms and trail maps for hikers. 

Recent travelers complimented the friendly staff members and extensive information available at the Cades Cove Visitor Center, and noted that the center's public restrooms are the only ones available on the loop drive. Many also loved the free film detailing the history of the area and several praised the well-stocked gift shop. Some reviewers noted that on busy weekend days during peak seasons, traffic was very slow on the loop road and parking was limited. 

Although the loop road to reach the visitor center is not long, heavy traffic during peak times (summer, fall and holiday weekends) can make it a slow drive, so park officials recommend allowing up to four hours or longer to make the drive and tour some of the exhibits or hike area trails. The road is closed to auto traffic on Wednesday and Saturday mornings until 10 a.m. from May to late September to open the route to bicycles and foot traffic, and the visitor center is open daily except Christmas Day. Inclement weather may close the loop road to traffic, so be sure to check the park's website or hotline before heading out. The visitor center and road are free to access.

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#1 Roaring Fork Motor Trail The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, a nearly 6-mile-long, one-way loop road, offers spectacular mountain scenery and access to two of the region's most popular waterfalls: Rainbow Falls and ... Read more » SuperT76 / Getty Images

#2 Newfound Gap Road Also known as notches or passes, gaps are the low points in a mountain ridge. The Newfound Gap, which sits at an elevation of 5,046 feet, is the lowest ... Read more » SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

#3 Sugarlands Visitor Center According to recent travelers, the Sugarlands Visitor Center should be your first stop in the park. The visitor center features extensive natural history exhibits and screens a free 20-minute film ... Read more » jcarillet / Getty Images

#4 Cades Cove Surrounded by mountains, Cades Cove is an isolated, fertile valley that was once home to many of the early Southern Appalachian settlers. You'll see 18th- and 19th-century cabins, three ... Read more » Courtesy Gatlinburg Convention & Visitors Bureau

#5 Clingmans Dome Clingmans Dome is not only the highest point in Tennessee, but also in the park itself. On a clear day, you may be able to see more than 100 miles ... Read more » Wray Sinclair / Getty Images

#6 Cades Cove Visitor Center The Cades Cove Visitor Center is located about midway on the 11-mile, one-way Cades Cove Loop Road. One of the most popular areas in the park, the Cades Cove valley ... Read more » NPS

#7 Abrams Falls Trail Named for a Cherokee chief whose village once occupied a spot alongside the creek, Abrams Falls is small, but mighty. While the falls are only 20 feet high, they pump ... Read more » JimVallee / Getty Images

mhare2000 / Getty Images

#9 Laurel Falls Named for the mountain laurel (an evergreen shrub) that blooms throughout the park, Laurel Falls is one of the most popular trails in the park. The path has an upper ... Read more » Brian W. Downs / Getty Images

#10 Chimney Tops One of the most popular trails in the park, Chimney Tops is one of the few mountains that has a bare rock summit and the views from the summit are ... Read more » GreenStock / Getty Images

Roaring Fork Motor Trail picture in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Newfound Gap Road picture in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Sugarlands Visitor Center picture in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Cades Cove picture in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Clingmans Dome picture in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Cades Cove Visitor Center picture in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Abrams Falls Trail picture in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Grotto Falls Trail picture in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Laurel Falls picture in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Chimney Tops picture in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Roaring Fork Motor Trail picture in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Newfound Gap Road picture in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Sugarlands Visitor Center picture in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Cades Cove picture in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Clingmans Dome picture in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Cades Cove Visitor Center picture in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Abrams Falls Trail picture in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Grotto Falls Trail picture in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Laurel Falls picture in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
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Stop along the Roaring Fork Motor Trail to walk behind a waterfall at Grotto Falls. SuperT76 / Getty Images

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Cades Cove is one of the most popular spots in the park, especially with hikers and cyclists. Courtesy Gatlinburg Convention & Visitors Bureau

Clingmans Dome is not only the highest point in Tennessee, but also in the park itself. On a clear day, you may be able to see more than 100 miles.  Wray Sinclair / Getty Images

The Cades Cove Visitor Center offers both indoor and outdoor exhibits, including access to the historic Becky Cable House. NPS

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The Laurel Falls Trail, one of the most popular in the park, is named for the mountain laurel that line its path. Brian W. Downs / Getty Images

One of the most popular trails in the park, Chimney Tops is one of the few mountains that has a bare rock summit and the views from the summit are spectacular.  GreenStock / Getty Images

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