Often described as one of the most appealing and picturesque settings in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cades Cove is a lush and beautiful valley framed on all sides by the majestic mountains. Noted for its amazing amounts of native wildlife, it is the spot where millions of travelers have seen such well-loved animals as black bears, flocks of turkeys, and even small groups of coyotes.

Cades Cove Is a Must-See Destination Year-Round

Whether you are traveling in the warm weather of spring and summer or the cooler seasons of winter and fall, Cades Cove is a must-see area in the region. It offers an easy-to-navigate, 11-mile loop drive that includes plenty of places to stop, take in a hike, a picnic and more.

Busiest during the summer and autumn seasons, and especially during the weekends, it is a very enjoyable self-guided tour that can serve as the focal point for your entire day.

However, if you are visiting in the months of March through October, you can see the sights of Cades Cove in a much more relaxed and low-key manner – in one of the old-fashioned hayrides. Offered by Cades Cove Riding Stables, trips range from 1.5 to 3 hours (depending upon traffic in the park) and are usually in the company of a guide or Park Ranger. They are truck or wagon-pulled rides and easily one of the most exciting things for kids to experience.

What to Expect on a Cades Cove Hayride

What will a classic hayride through Cades Cove include? The area is dotted with 19th and 20th century farming communities, or what remains of them. During the autumn season, the late afternoon rides allow you to slowly take in those sites, but also the radiant foliage that frames every view or scene. You get to learn what life was like during the earliest days of the settlers and even discover a bit about their home lives, farming methods, and much more.

You can book an autumn season hayride for the hours of 10AM, 12PM or 3PM. The rides will occur unless weather conditions force a cancellation. Because it is autumn, you will want to be sure everyone is dressed comfortably and warmly, and it is perfectly acceptable to bring a few blankets along for the ride.

If you wish to introduce your kids to the history of the people who settled in the Great Smoky Mountains in the last few centuries and do it in a way that is amazingly scenic and fun, hayrides are the way to go.

Hayrides in the region are a popular autumn activity and you can also find them outside of the park including hayrides in downtown Gatlinburg!