This post is part of a travel series of our vacation in the Smokey Mountains. To start at the beginning, go HERE! The rest of the post in chronological order are HERE!
After a very rigorous hike to Rainbow Falls the day before, our aching bodies were ready for a more relaxing day so my husband and I decided to drive the Cades Cove Loop Road.
When I was planning our trip to the Smokies, the Cades Cove Loop Road constantly came up in my Pinterest feed. It is one of the most popular scenic roads in the park. When I looked at other people's pictures, I will be honest, I was not impressed. I couldn't understand why this road was so popular. Nevertheless, I had to see it for myself to find out why this place was so well-loved, and once I did, I understood why! Driving the Cades Cove Loop Road was one of the biggest highlights of my time in the Smokies! The landscape was so serene and peaceful. The prairie land looked so beautiful with the scenic mountain back drop.
When preparing for our trip I read a lot of blogs where they talked about how busy this road was and how you could be stuck in traffic for hours, but that was not our experience. We arrived at the entrance to the loop before the gate was open and waited in line. We had to ride in a caravan of cars for a little while, but once we pulled over to the first stop all the cars went past us and we pretty much had the place to ourselves.
It takes over an hour just to get from Gatlinburg to Cades Cove, but the road just to get to the gate was part of the adventure. We drove through tunnels, saw rivers and waterfalls, and a turkey!
Cades Cove is an 11 mile, one way loop. Allow two to four hours to tour Cades Cove, longer if you plan on doing any of the trails.
There are many, many stops along Cades Cove Road. There are hiking trails (we didn't take any this day as we were spent from yesterday's hike), churches, scenic views, and many homesteads. So many people just drive the loop and never stop, but I think we stopped at almost all of them. We especially loved the churches.
There is supposed to be a guide that you can buy for $1.00 at the start of the loop, but all the boxes were empty when we were there. The guide apparently tells you the history of all the stops along the road.
There are three churches in Cades Cove. We missed the first church but thankfully caught the next two.
This church had a cemetery right outside its windows. It seems kind of eerie to have a cemetery so close to a church (although I know that was common back in the day) but I can't help to wonder as people sat in church and saw the gravestones right out the church window if perhaps they paid better attention to the sermons 😀
Cades Cove is so rich in history. If you're a history buff, you will love Cades Cove. Cherokee Indians hunted this land for hundreds of years. The first European settlers arrived in 1818.
Here are pictures of the insides of two of the churches we stopped at. They are very plain and simple.
Deer, black bears, coyotes, and turkeys are frequently spotted in Cades Cove. When we were there we saw deer, a coyote, and lots of turkeys, and one bear so far in the distance I couldn't even make him out.
I could not get over the beauty of the landscape. Pictures do not do it justice. No wonder I was unimpressed with the photos I saw on Pinterest.
We finally spotted some deer!
About half way through the loop you come to the Cades Cove Visitor Center. Here are restrooms and a small gift shop. On the grounds is the Cable Mills Historic Area.
There is a beautiful old farm along a river on the grounds.
I was so happy that we were able to go inside all these old farmhouses and cabins. It was so interesting to see how the settlers lived back then.
Every barn we saw in the park had this same shape. They are very different from Wisconsin barns!
Can you see the turkey walking in the field below?
After our tour of the Cable Mills Historic Area it was back in the car again, but we stopped many more times to tour all the log cabins and farms along the road.
I think I fell in love with every cabin and said to my husband "I'll live here". I imagined myself sitting on the front porch every morning with a coffee and Bible in hand looking at this gorgeous Mountain View.
This is the backyard of the house whose front porch I was standing on.
Then I arrived at the next cabin and I wanted to live there! I loved how this one was nestled up against the woods.
Another funky looking barn. How do those overhangs not collapse?
This cabin looked so similar to the one above that I had to recheck the pictures to make sure it wasn't the same one. Just like the suburbs today where all the houses seem to look alike, so did the cabins of Cades Cove! 😀. Each one though had a very unique property, it was so hard to decide which one I would rather live on. They were all so beautiful in their own way.
This is one of my favorite pictures of Cades Cove. I feel it really symbolizes the history and the serene beauty of the area.
Oh, I loved Cades Cove. It was such a beautiful, relaxing morning. But our day wasn't over yet, we were up so early that we had plenty of time to explore more! So come back next week for Part Two!
Finally, here are two very short videos to give you a sense of the peaceful beauty of Cades Cove.
Have a Great Day! Amy
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