Great Smoky Mountains National Park / Cades Cove Campground

Our recent tent camping was at Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  It’s a broad, verdant valley surrounded by the Southern Applalachian mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina.  It’s one of the most popular destinations in the Great Smokies.

A year ago I never dreamed I’d be camping in the Smokies.  

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited park in the U.S.  In 2014 there were over 10 million visitors.

We now are using our Eureka tent.

Our view from inside:

Every picnic table had this sign:

There were signs as we left the campsite “Have you bear-proofed your site?”

One day a ranger came by each site and announced that there was a storm moving in within 15-20 minutes with predicted 50 mph winds.  We took down our canopy, secured everything, zipped the tent doors, got emergency food supplies (cheesecake and diet coke) and it started sprinking. Then deluge!  It was exciting to hear the roaring wind and pounding rain!

An hour later the storm had passed.  The clean mountain air smelled even more wonderful.   There appeared to be no damage. Our neighboring campers, who had been gone all morning, arrived back and said there were 6 downed trees along the only road up to Cades Cove.  Crews were clearing the road and cars were backed up for quite awhile.

Pine Oak Nature Trail was nearby, so I took a hike.

Sunlight was streaming down the mountain:

Mountain Laurel was in bloom:

The front and backside of a Mountain Laurel blossom. I love the design on the backside.

 Signs along the trail with intetesting facts:

Several bridges:

A cool mushroom:

A  rhododendrum blossom:

And a great view from the top:

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to 1,500 bears.  This is a population density of approximately 2 bears/square mile. 

We saw a momma bear who sent her 2 cubs scampering up a tree.  She waited near the tree until the many photographers along the side of the road finally left.

Cades Cove was an exciting campsite!

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