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Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Nature's Beauty in Cades Cove - Audio Page
Hyatt Lane in Cades Cove, October 2008
What is so special about Cades Cove?
Every season in Cades Cove, in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is special. Perhaps the most visited seasons are spring and fall, when your chances of seeing wildlife are greatly increased. In autumn, especially, animals are responding to the new crisp cooler air with a quickness in their step and an urgency to find many foods before they disappear.
The wildlife of Cades Cove is diverse and includes birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, insects, and more.
Wild turkeys can be up to 35 inches long, and they are a large bird. They have large rounded wings and long fan-shaped tails. Their feathers are iridescent in the sun, showing hues of bronze, brown, gold, and black. There are no feathers on their heads. Wild turkeys can fly for short distances, and roost at night in large trees.
Wild Turkeys in Cades Cove, October 2008
Wild turkeys eat berries and other fruits, many types of insects, seeds, and acorns. They are elusive birds, and are sometime hard to find. The best time to find wild turkeys is just after dawn.
Outside of parks and protected areas, wild turkeys are hunted in designated hunting seasons. The turkeys that people usually eat are not wild turkeys, but are domestic turkeys that are fatter. Wild turkeys are muscular and lean, and burn up calories by running when frightened. They can defend themselves with very strong legs and long claws, used for digging in the ground.
Other animals easily seen in Cades Cove are whitetailed deer, American Black Bear, groundhog, coyote, frog, rabbit, salamander, various types of fish, and other birds such as cardinal, Eastern screech owl, pileated woodpecker, North American crow, Canada goose, Eastern bluebird, swift, and other birds migrating through the area at different times of the year.
American Black Bear in Cades Cove, October 2008
DRIVING TOUR: The Loop Road in Cades Cove
After entering the park from Townsend way, turn right at the Wye and go to Cades Cove. Take the 11-mile Loop Road around the cove. If Roaring Forks is the road less traveled, the Loop Road is rush-hour traffic! If you are in a hurry, do not do this road. It takes a good 3 hours to do it all, and do it properly, and better to devote most of a day here. The loop area is known for wildlife sitings, including black bear, whitetail deer, coyote, pileated woodpecker, wild turkeys, and we have seen them all here at one time or other. There are two gravel roads that you can shorten this loop by taking, Sparks Lane and Hyatt Lane. There is a wonderful visitors center at the back, set in with pioneer buildings and a mill. There is a large restroom here and lots of parking. It makes a nice break from the Loop. There are pastures in the middle where you may see the horses, and where deer and turkeys are easy to spot - if there are there. The best times of day to see wildlife are just after dawn and right before dusk. At the end of the loop, turn right to go to the Cades Cove Campground Store to stock up on what you need for your campsite, or to get souvenirs and refreshments. There are several trails leading off the loop. Visit National Park Service Website to read about trails in the park. There are too many for us to mention here. In the summer you will see bull thistle blooming in the cove, with butterflies flitting from flower to flower. You will also find a lot of spring flowers here such as dogwood and hearts-a-busting. Mountain mint grows on Hyatt Lane, and near one of the churches you will find Passion Flower in the summer. There is always something to see here for the patient traveler. And you can see it from your car or on foot or bicycle. The Loop Road is closed to vehicles on Wednesday and Saturday mornings until 10 a.m. to give wildlife a break. The Loop Road is open all year, although when icy conditions prevail getting in and out of the cove can be tricky. Always check the National Park Service website when planning a trip.
Whitetail Buck in Cades Cove, October 2008
IMPORTANT PARK PLANS FOR CADES COVE:
Click here to read about progress in the Cades Cove Plan - how access to the Cove may change in the future. http://www.cadescoveplanning.com/
Where can I go camping in Cades Cove?
The Cades Cove Campground features a Ranger Station, Ampitheatre, Bicycle Rental, Horseback Riding Stables, Campground Store, many Nature Trails, Pioneer Cabins and Churches, and an 11-mile paved one-way Loop Road. The Store sells souvenirs, foods including hot dogs, soft serve ice cream, snacks, beverages, firewood, and assorted sundries. They also rent bicycles for folks who want to tour the Loop Road that way. Cades Cove Campground has 161 sites, open all year, $14-$17, some of which can accommodate an RV up to 35 feet long.
You can make a reservation at Cades Cove only for the period May 15 through October 31; sites can be reserved up to 5 months in advance. All frontcountry campsites have running cold water, toilets that flush, picnic tables, and fire grates for cooking; however, there are no showers. Check with the National Park Service at www.nps.gov/grsm/ for information and phone numbers (1-800-365-2267).
The Cades Cove Loop Road is open year round. The Loop Road is closed to all vehicles each Wednesday and Saturday morning until 10:00 A.M. - bicycles and feet are permitted.
Dogs on leashes are allowed in campground, picnic areas, and long road, but pets are not allowed on any trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. For the safety of you and your pets, please observe this law. All pet poop must be picked up and disposed of properly. Pets should never be left unattended in vehicles or RVs. Pets attract predators, such as bears; and they also harass wildlife such as raccoons, deer, and elk. Also, tame pets may contract diseases in the woods and trails of this park.
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