Latitude / Longitude:
35° 35′ 39 N, 83° 50′ 31 W
Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
Cades Cove is an isolated valley located in the Tennessee section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, USA. The valley was home to numerous settlers before the formation of the national park. Today Cades Cove, the single most popular destination for visitors to the park, attracts more than two million visitors a year because of its well preserved homesteads, scenic mountain views, and abundant display of wildlife. The Cades Cove Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The National Park Service currently maintains several buildings in Cades Cove that are representative of pioneer life in the 19th-century Appalachia. By the time the cove was incorporated into the park, most residents lived in relatively modern frame houses, rather than the log cabins that predominate among the buildings preserved in the cove.
Geologically, Cades Cove is a type of valley known as a “limestone window”, created by erosion that removed the older Precambrian sandstone, exposing the younger Paleozoic limestone beneath. More weathering-resistant formations, such as the Cades sandstone which underlies Rich Mountain to the north and the Elkmont and Thunderhead sandstones which form the Smokies crest to the south surround the cove, leaving it relatively isolated within the Smokies. As with neighboring limestone windows such as Tuckaleechee to the north and Wear Cove to the east, the weathering of the limestone produced deep, fertile soil, making Cades Cove attractive to early farmers.
Cades Cove has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an historic district since July 13, 1977. The historic district is bounded by the 2,000-foot (610 m) elevation contour (that is, it comprises all areas below that elevation) and includes both historic buildings and prehistoric archaeological sites.