Cades Code is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In early May, I arrived at Cades Cove at 6:30am and was 12th in line waiting for the park rangers to open the gate. Luckily Cades Cove is a large area and the people dispersed quickly. Photographers should still try to arrive early to beat the crowds.
Cade Cove has an 11 mile one way loop road with some cut through roads if you want a shorter trip. On Wednesday and Saturday mornings, the loop road is only open to foot and bicycle traffic until 10am.
There are numerous photography highlights in Cades Cove including: old settlement cabins, churches, a cable mill, nature trails, foggy meadows at sunrise, wildflowers, and wildlife.
White-railed deer are readily seen in Cades Cove. Black Bear and Coyotes can also be seen. On my journey through Cades Cove, I also saw numerous birds including a Pileated Woodpecker and Carolina Wren.
Some of my favorite stops to photograph around the Cades Cove loop are:
- John Oliver Place. One of the first stops around the loop. You may have to wait for people to leave your composition.
- Primitive Baptist Church. Get there early to photograph the sunrise in the background.
- Missionary Baptist Church
- There are several pullouts where you can photograph a foggy Meadow Sunrise
- Cable Mill. There are quite a few great compositions around the mill. Take your time and seek out non traditional compositions.
- Cades Cove Nature Trail for wildflowers
- Tipton Place (also check for wildflowers here)
- Carter Shields Cabin.
Written by Martin Belan
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