cades cove loop road in winter with snow
January 4, 2023

Winter is when things start to slow down in the Great Smoky Mountains, but that’s exactly why you will want to plan a trip to see the beauty of the area! There’s nothing quite like exploring the Smokies in the quietness of winter, and you should definitely visit Cades Cove while you’re here this time of year! Check out these 5 reasons why you should drive the Cades Cove Loop in winter.

1. Beautiful Winter Scenery

cantilever barn at tipton place in cades cove

The Smoky Mountains are teeming with people eager to see newly budded flowers in spring, rolling green hills of summer, or the ever-changing leaves in the fall. So it’s easy to see why people typically visit during these times of the year. But just because there aren’t any flowers or colorful leaves doesn’t mean the winter scenery isn’t worth viewing! You’ll be able to see views unlike any others since there’s nothing to obstruct them. If you decide to get out and explore the trails or historic buildings, they’re just as incredible against the wintry background as any other time of the year.

2. There Might Be Snow

Another reason why people should drive the Cades Cove Loop in winter is the possibility of seeing snow. There’s just something so peaceful about seeing mountains and valleys completely coated in a layer of snow. Plus, if you’ve been every other time of the year to see Cades Cove, trust us when we say you’ll want to see what your favorite spot in the national park looks like covered in powdery snow!

3. Not As Crowded

tipton place cabin in cades cove

The biggest perk of visiting in winter is the crowds have thinned out. Of course, the warmer times of the year are more popular, and Cades Cove sees millions of people every year. But you’ll love visiting the area when you don’t have to sit in traffic for hours or wait in line when you finally reach the bathrooms. You won’t feel rushed when you stop to enjoy wildlife or explore one of the buildings. Everyone will enjoy taking it easy and taking their time when you drive the Cades Cove Loop in winter.

4. May See Wildlife

Although there’s never any guarantee you’ll see animals when you visit the Great Smoky Mountains, winter is a great time to try! Bears may be entering into a deep sleep, but they are still spotted out and about in winter. You also might be able to catch a glimpse of white tailed deer grazing on grass or watch small animals scavenge for food along the ground as you drive around.

5. Hike the Trails

abrams falls in the smoky mountains

Another reason why you’ll want to visit in winter is to be able to hike the trails. Hikers can see so much more as you tromp through the woods without leaves to block the expansive forest. Plus, if you head towards Abrams Falls, you might just spot some icicles near the falls! Other trails you’ll want to explore this winter include the Cades Cove Nature Trail, Gregory’s Bald, or Rich Mountain Loop.

Now you know why you should drive the Cades Cove Loop this winter. Still have questions about the area or just want to know more? Check out our guide to Cades Cove for even more info!

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