Known for bear sightings, the Cades Cove Loop in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a very popular drive. In peak season, you can expect the 11-mile, one-way loop to be packed with cars, and you might get stuck in a "bear jam" for quite some time. On this rainy day, we saw a few deer, no bears, and plenty of humans and their tail-lights.
It was cool but sunny in the early morning. However, by the time we drove into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it had clouded up.
We drove through Wears Valley and the town of Townsend - about 17 miles. Then it was another 9 miles into the park to the Cades Cove Loop Scenic Drive.
As soon as we started on the 11-mile, one-way loop, it started to rain. With it being rainy and the "worst" time of the day to view wildlife, we thought it might not be too crowded. Wrong. There was a long line of traffic creeping along the narrow, paved road.
It is well known that Cades Cove is one of the best places in the park to see bears, so it's very popular for wildlife watchers. We know lots of people that have had their only bear sighting at Cades Cove. It has historical significance as well. It was an 1800s settlement, and there are several structures to tour if you choose.
We thought we might stop and walk a short trail, but the rain never let up. So, we just continued in the long line of cars looking for wildlife. We saw a turkey and three deer.
It was hard to see anything through the water droplets on the side windows. I stopped at one of the many little pull-offs to get a picture of the "smokies".
It took about an hour to do the loop, and that was without us stopping to get out anywhere. The whole drive was a pleasant way to pass a few hours on a rainy day.
Now, I personally thought the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail was actually a prettier drive and it certainly had much less traffic. Plus we saw bears there earlier this month.
But Cades Cove will always be a popular destination in the park, and it's worth a visit. Oh, it should be noted on Saturdays & Wednesdays (early May - late September), the loop is closed to motor vehicles until 10:00 a.m. when it is open only to foot traffic and bicycles. Taking an early morning bike ride on those days may be the best way to go.