Frequently Asked Questions

Why does Cades Cove Heritage Tours charge a fee? Aren’t most guided tours in National Parks free?

Most shuttle tours in National Parks are not free.  In fact, Cades Cove Heritage Tours is an excellent deal for a guided tour.  Most private guided tours can run anywhere from $40 to over $190 per person.

Is the shuttle going to be mandatory for all visitors?

No, Cades Cove Heritage Tours is not part of any plan to make riding mandatory.   Cades Cove Heritage Tours is a private non-profit that seeks to provide a superior visitor experience while protecting the natural and cultural resource of Cades Cove.  We offer visitors the choice to take a relaxing guided tour and learn about the natural resources and human history in the Cove, all without having to worry about “who’s going to drive?”

The Park Service is currently working on the Cades Cove Opportunities Plan to address the issues of crowding and visitor experience.  While there is an alternative that calls for the creation of a mandatory shuttle system, Cades Cove Heritage Tours is not a part of this plan.

Will I see a bear on a Smoky Mountain tour?

The special opportunity to see black bears, not to mention deer, turkey, foxes, and birds is always present in Cades Cove.  While we cannot guarantee that wildlife will be present for every visitor, chances are in your favor. 

Can I bring any food or beverages on tour?

You can bring both food and non-alcoholic beverages on the tour.  However, facilities are limited in Cades Cove, although there are restroom facilities at Cable Mill approximately halfway through the tour.

How long do the Cades Cove Ecology and History Tours last?

Generally last 3-4 hours.  On some days traffic is busier than others, on those days you may have to allow additional time to complete the tour.

How should I dress for the tour?

We recommend dressing comfortably.  While you will not be on any strenuous hikes, we do recommend you wear comfortable shoes so you can explore some of the historic sites at several of the stops.

If it rains, will my tour be cancelled?

No, we will continue to offer tours during rain.  We do recommend you bring a rain jacket with you for your comfort.

Can I get off and on wherever I choose to?

No, once you are on the tour you will stay with the original tour group.