snow covering the mountains and valley in cades cove

A Complete Guide to Visiting Cades Cove in Winter

Winter is a beautiful time to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. All of the autumn leaves have fallen off the trees, and the crowds have almost vanished. Although this is considered a slow season, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any sights worth seeing! One of the best places to go during this time of year is Cades Cove. You’ll still get the full experience but in a unique way! Find out more about Cades Cove in winter now:

Things to Do in Cades Cove in Winter

john oliver cabin with a dusting of snow in cades coveYou’re probably wondering if there’s anything you can’t do in Cades Cove during winter. Luckily you can do anything in this little valley during the colder months that you can the rest of the year! People love getting out and exploring the historic buildings, and you still can in winter. The three churches are especially popular, and you might warm up a bit being inside the buildings!

You’ll also get to enjoy the breathtaking views along the loop. Cades Cove is a little valley that’s surrounded by the mountains, and there’s nothing else quite like it in the national park. Early in the morning, there’s frost covering everything, and if you happen to visit when it snows, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a winter wonderland.

Another fun thing to do in Cades Cove in winter is hike! There are several trailheads along the loop, including Abrams Falls and Cades Cove Nature Trail. They are all still accessible, and you’ll get to see the area on foot unlike any other time of the year.

Winter Wildlife

deer on the side of the road in cades covePeople love visiting Cades Cove because of the abundance of wildlife you can see. While the animals slow down in the winter, that doesn’t automatically mean you won’t see any! Every once in a while, a bear comes out of their den to find a snack, or you’ll see deer grazing on sparse grass in the meadow. You’ll definitely see small wildlife, like squirrels and birds. Just keep an eye out if you want to spot some cute creatures while you’re visiting!

Winter Hours

One thing people wonder all the time is what the Cades Cove hours are during winter. Luckily for you, the loop is open all year round, but it is only accessible from sun up to sun down. Cades Cove is the only area in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that does close at night.

Winter Weather

cantilever barn in cades cove covered in snowYou may be wondering what you should expect when it comes to winter weather in Cades Cove. During the colder months, the temperatures average around 40 degrees during the day and dip down into the 20s at night. Here’s the average temperatures based on the month:

December – High 46℉, Low 23℉
January – High 43℉, Low 20℉
February – High 47℉, Low 23℉

Of course, the weather is unpredictable. But another aspect you may wonder about is the possibility of snow. In years past, it is more likely that snow falls in January and February, but we have seen our fair share of snow in December as well. You’ll definitely want to keep an eye out on the temperature and weather predictions in the area when you plan to visit Cades Cove in winter.

The loop may or may not be open when it snows. Stay up to date with closures during winter on the National Park Service’s seasonal road closures.

What’s Open and Closed?

cades cove in winter with frost on the groundIt’s no surprise that people wonder what stays open and what closes during an unpredictable time like winter. And we want to share it with you!

As previously mentioned, Cades Cove is open during the winter season, weather permitting. However, there are a few things that are closed during this time of the year.

Cades Cove Riding Stables closes November 30, so you can’t enjoy horseback riding during winter. But it opens back up again in March!

The visitor center is open every day of the year except Christmas. Here, you’ll learn all kinds of neat information about the area, including history. Plus, it’s the only place to go to the bathroom along the loop until you get back to the campground and picnic area!

Forge Creek Road is one of the seasonal road closures. You can’t access it after November. But, you can get out on foot to see the historic grist mill, drive-through barn, and other cool places right off this road!

We hope you’re more prepared to visit Cades Cove in winter with our complete guide! You’ll have so much fun exploring this popular destination in the national park. Want to know what else you should do when you stay with us? Check out these other attractions in the Smoky Mountains for some ideas!