Scenic Drive Through the Smoky Mountains

As you arrive at Big Meadow you will notice smoke floating above the Smoky Mountains National Park two short w miles from us. What an amazing view! The smoke is actually fog rising from the mountain’s vegetation. After your arrival you will want to plan a day trip through Cades Cove.

When you enter the park, E Lamar Alexander Pkwy becomes Townsend Entrance Rd. On the right, where visitors usually take their first picture in the park, there will be a welcome sign to the park.

Little River runs parallel to the road, and you can see people tubing or simply jumping into the water if the day is warm enough. There are campgrounds and RV campgrounds here, including Big Meadow Family Campground.

When you arrive at the intersection, turn right onto Laurel Creek Rd, which leads to the Cades Cove loop road. There are several pullout parking lots along the way for visitors to enjoy the creek. You will be tempted to pull over when you see an empty parking spot, but make sure you have purchased a parking pass on line from GSMNP or the Townsend Visitor Center continues on to Cades Cove.

Cades Cove is a popular tourist destination in the Smoky Mountains. Most people visit the park between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. If you’re doing the Cades Cove drive-through, I recommend going straight to Cades Cove. Unless something unexpected happens along the way —– like a bear sighting!!!

a bear crossing a road in townsend tn

It takes about 15 minutes to drive from the Townsend entrance to the Cades Cove entrance if there is no traffic. Cades Cove Loop is an 11-mile scenic drive in the Smoky Mountains. It is usually open to drivers from sunup to sundown. Cades Cove will take you at least two to four hours to tour, not including any hikes.

Around 1818, the first Europeans arrived in the cove. These arrivals to this area have created the most diverse collection of historic structures seen in National Parks. Along the loop, you’ll see old churches, a working grist mill, barns, log houses, and more.

Overall, it’s a lovely drive. Cades Cove Loop, as stated on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Service website, is one of the best drives through the Smokies. You will spend most of your time driving under tree canopies. And seeing bears in the woods or crossing the road is an unforgettable experience. As always, we will leave the light on for you when you return from your day trip. We hope you enjoy these posts. Please let share and let us know that they are helping you plan your adventures! Barbara loves to hear you are happy with the information!

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