On our trip out to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg I was really looking forward to visiting Cades Cove. It did not disappoint!
We stayed in Townsend since we wanted an easy and less congested entrance into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This area is perfect for accessing Cades Cove!
Arriving early is your best bet for wildlife viewing and to avoid other people. We left at 7:50 for our twenty minute drive to the cove with very little traffic. This was the least busy park day we would have on our trip! There were a few light rain showers that I think helped keep the crowds away that day.
I was driving on Laurel Creek road almost half way to the cove when a huge bear darted in front of our car and up the hillside. He was bigger than I thought local bears would be and he was running faster than I thought they could. I was very glad I did not hit him with the car and it reconfirmed why the speed limit is so low in the park. After seeing the size/ speed of him I was rethinking my desire to see a bear in the park.
Once you reach the gate the road through Cades Cove is eleven miles long and while it offers a couple of cut through roads plan on spending at least a couple of hours on it.