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How early to Cade's Cove

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Columbus, Ohio
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How early to Cade's Cove

We will be in Gatlinburg/PF next week and plan on visiting the park a couple of times. I have read that the Cade's Cove loop can get congested. When does it really start getting busy? How early should we get there to avoid the rush and congestion? How long should we plan on to complete the loop if we go early?

1. Re: How early to Cade's Cove

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paintsville ky
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2. Re: How early to Cade's Cove

Well I hate driving this loop it is a 11 mile loop and it always takes us 3-4 hours to drive it because people don't pull off the road when they see something they just stop in the road and it's gets backed up bumper to bumper all the way through it. if you go I would go by 8am you may have better luck...we have tried in the early mornings, late in the evenings. and even mid day and always the same thing bumper to bumper....good luck, we have never seen anything other than a few deer and maybe a few turkey, gee I can see this at home. We like Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail much better, we have seen bears 3 or 4 different times on this drive, it's at light #8 in Gatlinburg.....

Iowa
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3. Re: How early to Cade's Cove

The gate opened at 7 a.m. when we were there. We got there shortly after it opened, and guess what? No crowds! We literally had times where we were the only vehicle in sight. We finished the loop around 10:30 (this was with many stops, including the visitor center), and when we left it was a steady stream of cars coming in. Moral of the story? Be there at gate opening to avoid traffic.

We saw a mother bear and two cubs during the drive, plus turkeys and deer. I also really enjoyed stopping and seeing the cemeteries, churches, and houses. Since we were in front of the crowds, we often had the house/church/cemetery to ourselves, or with only a few other people.

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4. Re: How early to Cade's Cove

Get there when it opens to avoid traffic, although this time of year there may be some anyway. If you appreciate natural beauty, the traffic won't bother you. Just exercise some patience and keep your eyes open for wildlife. It's there if you look. Bears are often found up in the trees.

I really don't understand why people complain so much about the traffic. Where are they in such a hurry to get too? This is one of the beautiful spots on the planet and I am never in a big hurry to leave it.

Mississippi
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5. Re: How early to Cade's Cove

I agree with Bryanbee. Also the gate seems to open at daybreak, which is usually around 7AM, so to beat the worst of the crowds we're in line at that time.

You've got to be in the right state of mind to deal with those folks who don't use the pull-offs. I know it's irritating. We just dedicate 1/2 the day to Cades Cove and always make lunch somewhere in Townsend, even in the heaviest of seasons.

Farmington, Missouri
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6. Re: How early to Cade's Cove

We went yesterday. Got there at 10:30. It was raining. It really wasn't that crowded save for the "bear jam" halfway thru. It was worth it. Saw a bear cub in tree. Well worth visit.

Columbus, Ohio
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7 reviews
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7. Re: How early to Cade's Cove

Thanks Dawg. What restaurants do you recommend in Townsend? Thinking of tubing on the afternoon at River Rats.

Louisville, Kentucky
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8. Re: How early to Cade's Cove

We love the Little River bbq restaurant in Townsend. It has a screened in porch in the back for outdoor seating. Great food.

Mississippi
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1,530 posts
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9. Re: How early to Cade's Cove

Our favorites are The Back Porch Restaurant and The Riverstone Restaurant. Good country style food with friendly service.

la la land
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10. Re: How early to Cade's Cove

I'm gonna add those above mentioned Townsend restaurants to my list! The time I distinctly recall details in doing Cades Cove, we had NO problem with cars not pulling off and since I have to force myself to be an early, early am person - we weren't there all that early! No bear sightings for us in CC.