Great Smoky Mountains National Park invites the public to enjoy the Cades Cove Loop Road on vehicle-free Wednesdays beginning May 5 through September 1. Participants are encouraged to visit in the afternoons and early evenings to spread use out throughout the day. Parking on-site is limited, with parking lots often filling to capacity during the early morning hours.
“We look forward to offering this unique experience again, but we are making some modifications to better protect our roadside infrastructure and camping experience from out-of-bounds parking,” said Superintendent Cash. “I heard from many people who loved having the full day to walk or ride their bikes around the cove. The credit for the idea goes to the local field staff who brought the concept forward in an effort to allow people more time to enjoy the loop road and to reduce congestion.”
This year, staff will manage on-site parking to improve visitor safety, minimize impacts to campground operations, and reduce roadside parking on non-durable surfaces. Roadside parking damages shoulders and creates unsafe conditions for visitors walking from their car to their destination. Parking at this popular destination is limited. Park staff are developing information systems to better alert visitors when parking lots are full before they enter the park. In addition, park staff are exploring shuttle opportunities to safely bring people to Cades Cove from the Townsend area. Staff plan to have some of these additional options in place later during the summer season.
Cyclists are reminded to properly prepare for a safe experience. Serious cycling accidents have occurred along Cades Cove Loop Road. The State of Tennessee requires that children age 16 and under wear a helmet. All riders are strongly encouraged to wear helmets and to ride properly fitted and well-maintained bicycles. During summer and fall, bicycles may be rented at the campground store located near the Cades Cove Campground on a first-come, first-served basis. For information call 865-448-9034.
For more information about congestion monitoring in the park, please visit the park website at https://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/management/ves.htm.