Nestled within the mountains of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is a valley that was once home to as many as 125 families. Today, with nearly 2 million annual visitors, Cades Cove is one of the most popular destinations within the 75 year old park. An eleven mile, one way loop road takes visitors back to a time when settlers first entered the valley in the 1820s and 30s. The population of the cove grew to a high as 708 (in 1900) -- today there remain over 70 historic structures which can be explored in this tranquil pastoral setting surrounded by wooded mountains. Cades Cove is also well known for its wildlife: bears, deer, coyotes, red fox and wild turkeys (to name a few) are often seen by visitors as they explore the cove.
The peak tourist months for the park are July and October. But if you're planning a visit, note that the Cades Cove Loop Road is being resurfaced and will be closed from March 1st to April 23rd. Also, the popular park destination of Clingman's Dome will be closed until May 29th (both dates are dependent on the weather). For a park map and helpful trip planning information, click here. For a helpful guide to hiking in the Smoky's click here. I'll be posting more photos from Cades Cove this week.