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4 Things NOT to do in Cades Cove.

4 Things NOT to Do in Cades Cove

Cades Cove is the most popular destination in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and it’s not hard to see why! Over 2 million visitors come to Cades Cove each year to enjoy the valley’s breathtaking scenery, spectacular wildlife, and well-preserved historic buildings. While we have already shared a step-by-step guide to everything to do in Cades Cove, it recently occurred to us that we have never told our readers what to avoid doing during their visit. So, without further ado, here are four things NOT to do in Cades Cove.

1. Don’t Run Through the Fields Singing “The Sound of Music”

Someone singing the Sound of Music in Cades Cove.We totally get it. Cades Cove is mindbogglingly beautiful. And it bears more than a passing resemblance to the idyllic Austrian countryside. When you look out onto those pristine fields, surrounded by picturesque mountains, something stirs deep inside your soul. You just want to throw open your car door, run into the grass, raise up your hands, and sing, “the hills are aliiiiive with the sound of muuuuuuuusiiiiiiiiiiiic!!!!”

Nevertheless, we’re going to need you to fight that impulse, no matter how strong it becomes. There are a few reasons why visitors to Cades Cove are discouraged from pulling a Maria. First off, it would be a logistical nightmare. If everyone on the loop road abandoned their car to sing a 2 ½ minute song, traffic would be backed up for days.

Second, no one has a voice like Julie Andrews, and this will become increasingly apparent when you suffer through the umpteenth amateur rendition of the show tune. Finally, the Rodgers and Hammerstein songbook is a slippery slope. Before you know it, tourists will be singing “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi,” or even “Edelweiss,” and, frankly, we need to draw the line somewhere.

2. Don’t Try to Turn a Historic Cabin into a Vacation Rental

A couple sitting in a hot tub outside of the John Oliver Cabin in Cades Cove.Yes, we’re well aware that the secret to any real estate venture is “location, location, location.” And, of course, Cades Cove would be a great place to own a vacation home. Who wouldn’t want to spend their getaway immersed in the most scenic section of the Smoky Mountains?

However, converting one of the valley’s historic homesteads into a cabin rental just isn’t a good business move. To put it mildly, the cabins in Cades Cove are “fixer-uppers”. Let’s take the John Oliver Cabin, for instance. Built around 1822, this log home has no electricity, no plumbing, no bathroom, no kitchen, no dining room, no windows in the upstairs bedroom, and, worst of all, no hot tub. Good luck trying to rent a cabin without a Jacuzzi in this market! To save you on some sanity, add installing a hot tub on your list of things not to do in Cades Cove.

Also, and this is just a gut feeling we have, the cabins in Cades Cove are probably haunted. Nothing hurts the resale value of a home quite like the angry ghost of a 19th-century farmer who hates it when your kids play pool.

3. Don’t Stage a Glamour Photo Shoot for the Bears

A glamour photo shoot with a bear in Cades Cove.Cades Cove is undoubtedly the best spot in the Smokies for snapping pictures of black bears in the wild, but please don’t go overboard with your photo shoot. For example, we do not recommend trying to apply makeup to the bears, as they prefer a “natural” look (Honestly, blush and lipstick just make bears look like they got into a berry patch). Similarly, wind machines aren’t particularly helpful. Instead of making the bears appear glamorous like Beyonce, the wind just blows a bunch of dirt and leaves in their face, which is not going to make the cover of Vogue.

Finally, bears really don’t appreciate it when you give them directions during a photo shoot. Shouting, “show me fierce, but not too fierce” or “give me more fangs,” can be enough to make a bear end the shoot right then and there. Respecting your model’s boundaries is essential for any photographer, and, in this case, that means staying at least 150 feet away.

4. Don’t Tear Off Your Clothes, Abandon Society, and Live in the Woods

A man tearing off his clothes as he marches into the woods.The modern world can certainly be a challenging place. With seemingly endless political bickering, increasing dependence on constant technological distractions, and humanity’s failure to create a satisfying pizza bagel, it’s easy to get disillusioned. When you visit somewhere as magical as Cades Cove, there can be a real temptation to run away from it all and live amongst the natural beauty of the national park.

Although the idea of a life with no responsibilities (and no pants!) may sound appealing, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. While wolves have been known to adopt lost children, the coyotes in Cades Cove implement a brutal, fraternity-style hazing process for anyone who wants to join their pack. Let’s just say, if you can’t catch a wild turkey while wearing a blindfold, you’re probably not pack material. Other downsides of living like a hermit in Cades Cove include terrible cell reception, no good options for Chinese takeout, and the chance that you’ll be mistaken for Bigfoot and profiled in the National Enquirer.

Now that you know things not to do in Cades Cove, we can be more positive. Truth be told, you’re better off experiencing Cades Cove as a visitor than as a permanent resident. To prepare for your next vacation, check out these 8 Shocking Secrets About Cades Cove!


  • Avatar for Allan L Pennebaker
    Allan L Pennebaker

    It’s truly sad that those people were chased out of their homes

    January 23, 2018 at 2:48 pm

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