Cades Cove Vehicle-Free Wednesdays begin in May

TOWNSEND, Tenn. (WATE) – From May through September, one of the most popular roads in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be closed to motor vehicles on Wednesdays. Cades Cove Loop Road will host vehicle-free Wednesdays for the enjoyment of cyclists and pedestrians.

The Vehicle-Free Wednesdays pilot project along Cades Cove Loop Road began in 2020, when park managers first implemented it to test whether visitor use in the Smokies could be improved by s tackling the congestion, parking and safety issues that often cropped up in the park. . They brought it back in 2021 as an extension of the pilot program.

Cades Cove Loop Road Vehicle-Free Wednesdays will begin May 4 and run through September 28, 2022.

(Photo: WATE)

Smokies Park officials say attendees are encouraged to visit in the afternoon and early evening to spread visitor use throughout the day, as on-site parking is limited. Parking lots are often filled to capacity during the early morning hours.

On Thursday, the National Park Service also shared the following information regarding upcoming vehicle-free Wednesdays at Cades Cove:

  • Staff and volunteers will manage on-site parking to improve visitor safety, minimize impact to campground operations, and eliminate roadside parking on non-durable surfaces.
  • Roadside parking damages shoulders and creates unsafe conditions for visitors walking from their cars to their destination.
  • When parking lots are full, visitors will need to return later in the day or enjoy other areas of the park.
  • Cyclists are reminded to prepare well for a safe experience. Serious cycling accidents have occurred along the Cades Cove Loop Road.
  • The State of Tennessee requires children under 16 to wear a helmet. All cyclists are strongly encouraged to wear a helmet and use properly fitted and well maintained bicycles.
  • During the summer and fall, bikes can be rented from the campground store located near Cades Cove Campground on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • For more information, call 865-448-9034.

Park officials also say that when Cades Cove Loop Road is closed to vehicles, there are many other scenic routes in the Smokies that vehicles can travel on: other options include the Foothills Parkway between Lake Chilhowee and the Valley of Wears for panoramic views; Little River Road for a scenic drive along a river; and the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail for a scenic drive with opportunities to explore historic structures.

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