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Cades Cove Loop Road is one of the most popular destinations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as it features a bit of everything – spectacular scenery, historical structures, wildlife sightings, and more! If you’re lucky enough to be visiting the Smokies this summer, you can take advantage of the special vehicle-free days to explore Cades Cove by foot or on a bicycle! Here are the top 4 things to know about vehicle-free days on Cades Cove Loop Road:
1. What to Expect
The vehicle-free days on Cades Cove Loop Road offer visitors the opportunity to enjoy the wonders of Cades Cove without vehicular traffic! The 11-mile loop features the widest variety of historic buildings of any area in the National Park, and you’ll find several churches, a working grist mill, barns, log houses and other faithfully restored 18th and 19th-century structures. Since Cades Cove is a broad valley surrounded by mountains, it is also an excellent place to spot white-tailed deer, black bears, coyotes, turkeys, and other wildlife!
2. Dates of the Vehicle Free Days in Cades Cove
The Cades Cove access will be motor-vehicle free every Wednesday (all day long) from May 3rd to September 27, 2023. The vehicle-free days have existed in Cades Cove for over 40 years, and the road was closed to vehicles on Wednesday and Saturday mornings until 10 AM from May through September prior to 2020. However, the traffic leading into Cades Cove was often gridlocked with motorists waiting to access the loop at 10 AM. The full-day vehicle-free period was implemented to spread visitor use throughout the day.
3. Best Time to Arrive
Some folks feel like the best time to arrive at Cades Cove Loop Road on vehicle-free days is early in the morning, but there tends to be a rush for parking spots first thing in the morning. Unfortunately, once the parking spaces are full, visitors will be asked to leave and return later in the day. Since you have all day to enjoy the vehicle-free access, consider going in the mid-afternoon when many people are finishing up their visit! Remember to display your paid parking tag and only park in designated spots!
4. Biking Information
While it can be pleasant to explore the Cades Cove Loop Road on foot, you can also enjoy biking along the road during vehicle-free days! If you don’t have your own bike, consider renting a bicycle at the Cades Cove Trading Company near the campground store! Since bike rentals are popular on vehicle-free Wednesdays, you can reserve a rental in advance by calling the Cades Cove Trading Company at 865-448-9034. Note that you must arrive by 7 AM to pick up your bike and payment is required for reservations.
Check out all of the rooms at our resort in the Smoky Mountains today to stay close to Cades Cove Loop Road and all of the other amazing destinations throughout the National Park! We look forward to welcoming you to the Smokies!