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During the day, Cades Cove is one of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s most popular locations. With its beautiful mountain views, historic buildings, and incredible wildlife viewing, this breathtaking valley feels like a world apart. What many people don’t know is that Cades Cove is also one of the best spots in the Smoky Mountains for stargazing! While the area typically isn’t open to visitors after dark, the National Park Service makes an exception for the annual Cades Cove Star Party. Visit My Smokies has all of the details on this special Cades Cove stargazing event:
Date and Time for the Cades Cove Star Party
This year’s Cades Cove Star Party will take place on October 8, 2016. The event is totally free and open to anyone and everyone. Stargazers will meet at 7:30 p.m. at the orientation shelter at the entrance to the Cades Cove Loop Road. From the shelter, a park ranger will lead visitors on a 0.3 mile hike to the viewing area in Cades Cove. Vehicles will not be allowed to drive to the field, so the National Park Service is encouraging guests to carpool to the event. In previous years, the Cades Cove Star Party has drawn over 800 visitors!
In the event of inclement weather or cloud cover, the Star Party will be canceled. Be sure to call the Cades Cove Visitor Center at 865-448-4104 on the day of the event to make sure it is still on. The Star Party is expected to run for 2 and ½ hours.
What to Expect at the Cades Cove Stargazing Event
Cades Cove is a wonderful stargazing destination because of its remote location away from town. When you look up at the night sky in a city, you can usually only see the moon, a few bright stars, and maybe some planets. Stargazing in urban areas is so limited because the glow of the city lights masks most of the objects in the night sky. In Cades Cove, however, you will be able to admire the incredible stars of the Milky Way in their full glory.
(See Also: How the National Park Service Preserves Quiet and Darkness in the Smokies)
The Cades Cove Star Party is hosted by the Smoky Mountains Astronomical Society. The group’s experienced astronomers will bring an impressive array of telescopes to Cades Cove for everyone to enjoy. As you take in the majestic constellations and planets, the experts will share some interesting facts about the night sky.
In an interview with the Sevier News Messenger, National Park Ranger Mike Maslona said “People will be amazed at the vast depths of this planetary world and all they can see in complete darkness. This program mixes astronomy, legends, and the beauty of the stars to create a worthwhile exploration into the wonders of the heavens”.
What to Bring to the Cades Cove Star Party
The Smoky Mountains Astronomical Society suggests that guests at the Cades Cove stargazing event bring the following items:
- Flashlights (preferably one with a red filter)
- Jacket, hat, and gloves
- Lawn Chairs
To keep up to date with everything going on in the area, check out our Smoky Mountain Events Calendar!