The tunnel on the road into Cades Cove is closed for necessary repairs, which will be finished by the end of February (2020). It’s a good time to know about some of the countless other outdoor adventures that individuals and families can take in the Smoky Mountains.
Probably the first place to turn is to our extensive guide to Easy Outdoor Adventures in the Smoky Mountains. This will offer you lots of options to stay in your car and keep the pets and family close, or to take easy and even wheelchair-accessible strolls deep into nature without breaking a sweat.
You’ll want to know the weather in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge of course. And what’s the time of year? Right now it’s winter and the slopes are calling so you want to know the current Ski Report for Ober Gatlinburg.
One great family experience that doesn’t depend on the weather is a visit to nearby Tuckaleechee Caverns, featuring the tallest underground waterfall in the country. The temperature in that amazing subterranean space is constant year round, and you’ll never forget your visit to one of America’s iconic natural wonders.
Spring will come soon – and Cades Cove will be accessible by vehicle again, so check out that link to our definitive guide to that wonderful area. But also check out the major springtime events in the national park.
When April comes around you’ll be interested in the annual spring Trout Tournament which is fun for every age and skill level. And if you like to fish, follow all the links in that page to our guides to Fishing in the area.
If you like to camp you should check out our guide to Camping in the national park. And if it’s hiking or outdoor gear in general that you need, make a visit to our favorite local outfitter, the Day Hiker. There are over 800 miles of trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and you can’t hit them all, so check out a couple of our favorites.
First, the Chimneys Picnic Area is easy to drive to for a family picnic as well as hosting a lovely little nature trail for short stroll. And for a more serious hike but with a beautiful payoff at the end of it, check our guide to Spruce Flats Falls. It’s no lie when we say it’s beauty worth hiking for. Be sure to check our other trails and hiking guides in the national park.
Visitors can still hike into Cades Cove, by the way, during this closure, but the trail is about 8 miles and not many will pursue this option. But it’s a rare winter sojourning time for the hardy and those who love nature without traffic. Cades Cove in summer, offers a taste of this during a couple of days each week when only cyclists are allowed on the loop road in the early hours of the day.
You can rent a bicycle in Cades Cove at the Campground, and at a couple of other places in the area. See our guide to Biking in the Smokies for the full info. And think about bicycling over on the Quiet Side of the Smoky Mountains, taking advantage of the Smoky Mountain Outdoor Center, which offers biking and river tubing – and for which, by the way, we provide a Free Ticket to our guests.
There are many ways to get outdoors in the area, and they don’t all involve working hard. For the kids, take them on a visit to a deer farm and petting zoo, and let them cuddle to their heart’s content. If they’re feeling more active, take them to one of the ropes courses in the area. And if they’re supercharged, try the family hand at one of the many go-kart tracks in the area.
For more fun activities, be sure to check out our guides to Things to Do in the Smoky Mountains, our Smoky Mountains Activities for outdoors adventures, and especially our Things to Do in Gatlinburg With Kids.
And for accommodations during your visit here, you can’t do better than to stay in one of our Gatlinburg cabins, a Pigeon Forge cabin rental or our Wears Valley cabins to the west. We have over 400 cabins to choose from!