Roll down your windows, keep your eyes peeled, and whip out your best camera as you take a scenic drive through Cades Cove, a gorgeous valley area in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Spot white-tailed deer in the meadows, black bear cubs beneath the trees, wild turkeys on the trail, and foxes in the shadows. Snap shots of vivid wildflowers, rolling fluffy clouds against the bright blue sky, majestic mountain scenes, and historic sites. And if this popular driving loop isn’t enough, fill up your tank and explore other scenic drives near Pigeon Forge, TN!
The Cades Cove Drive
Begin your Cades Cove journey with a quick stop at the orientation shelter (towards the left near the entrance), where park rangers and staff are happy to answer questions and offer tips for your scenic drive. Following alongside an old logging railroad track, prepare for a memorable and smooth ride on this 11-mile, paved loop road. Visitors are required to drive slowly and heed the guiding signs. The entire 1-way loop can take 2-4 hours to complete. Congestion is typical but gives everyone a chance to really soak in the valley scenery!
Keep an eye out for wildlife galore, including white-tailed deer, raccoons, black bears, bobcats, wild turkeys, coyotes, foxes, beavers, and all sorts of birds. Should you come across a wild animal, be sure to share the road, give them the right of way, don’t feed them, and film (safely) the whole thing! Along Cades Cove Loop Road, you’ll come across many historic structures, each with a tale to tell. See the John Oliver Cabin, 3 classic churches, Cable Mill (the only working grist mill in the Smokies), the Dan Lawson Place, and many more!
Cades Cove Hours
Cades Cove Loop Road is open daily from sunrise to sunset, as long as the weather agrees. From May – September, the road is closed to motorists until 10:00 a.m. to allow cyclists and hikers a vehicle-free visit.
Hyatt Lane & Sparks Lane
If time seems to be getting away from you, cut through Cades Cove via Hyatt Lane or Sparks Lane. These 2-way roads are perfect for reaching the exit a little faster, providing new views of the area along the way.
Cades Cove Picnic Pavilion
After touring Cades Cove, it’s time to grab a bite at the picnic pavilion! Located near the horse stables and ranger station, you and yours can enjoy a meal while watching grazing horses beneath a mountain scene — the perfect way to end your scenic drive!
Directions to Cades Cove
- Head through Gatlinburg towards the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
- Pass the Sugarlands Visitor Center on your right, then turn right into Little River Road.
- Continue for about 25 miles, where a dead end meets the entrance to Cades Cove Loop Road!
More Scenic Drives
Cades Cove isn’t the only scenic drive in the Smoky Mountains near Pigeon Forge. Check out a few more favorites below!
Take the lowest pass through the Great Smoky Mountains along Newfound Gap, a 31-mile, paved road that goes through the center of the park. In fact, it’s the only road that does! And with a 10°F drop along the trip due to climbing elevations, you’ll come across a wide variety of ecosystems.
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
Named after a high-spirited mountain stream, Roaring Fork is a windy, paved trail is great for a slow-paced scenic drive. Along this 5.5-mile, 1-way loop road, you’ll pass historic buildings, incredible forest scenes, flowing streams, and wondrous wildlife. Note: this trail is closed in winter.
Upper Tremont Road
Close to Wears Valley, Upper Tremont Road is a nice scenic drive with parking areas along the way so you can take a bit more time to breathe in the natural beauty of the Smokies. See cascading waterfalls, serene trees, and wild animals along this gravel path.
Where to Park & Stay
Ah, after a full day’s drive, heading home to your Pigeon Forge cabin rental will be the best end to your scenic day. Whip up a hearty meal in the fully equipped kitchen, pass around glasses of local red, and dine with mountain peaks just a glance away. After reminiscing about your recent Smoky Mountain adventure over dessert, slip into your swimsuit for a muscle-soothing soak in the steamy hot tub outdoors.
Now that you’re completely relaxed, add the icing to the cabin cake with a fun film in the home theater, games in the rec room, or snuggles in the master suite’s king-size bed. At Pigeon Forge TN Cabins, we have your ideal cabin match, with 1-16 bedroom options that sleep 1-54 guests with top-notch amenities to boot! Come for the scenic drive and stay for the cabin memories with family and friends.