My parents came to visit last weekend, and wanted to go to the Smokies. I took them to the park last year when they came, but we kind of just drove around and pulled off at a few of the scenic view turnoffs, without really having a plan or going to see something specific. This year, we had a whole day to kill, so at the advice of some friends I took them to Cade's Cove last Sunday. I've never been to that part of the park, either, so it was fun for us all.
For those unfamiliar with the park, Cade's Cove is a large valley deep in the park. A number of historic buildings have been preserved there, although several were relocated from other areas. To visit, you drive on a one-way scenic loop, which means that a lot of your visit looks like this:
Since a lot of the view also looks like this, though:
it's a nice tradeoff.
We skipped a few buildings, because there were just too many cars and people, but we did pull off at the Primitive Baptist Church for a few minutes:
and then stopped at the Methodist Church:
but after that we decided we'd seen enough churches and enough unruly children running around the churches. This couple in the Methodist Church was letting their kids bang on the piano and they actually threw a Bible from the pulpit and laughed. I was disgusted, especially when the mom was trying to explain to the kids about preservation while not stopping them from taking part in destruction.
We saw a few deer, and there was a long traffic jam when people said they could see bears, but we didn't see them. It's possible that all of the people getting out of their cars and stomping across the field to get closer (Seriously, people? It's not a zoo. Have fun getting mauled.) scared the bears away by the time our car got to the right spot, but it's equally likely that they just wandered off on their own.
We stopped for the longest time at the Cable Mill Historic Area, where a number of buildings are preserved together around the Cable sawmill and gristmill. They have a visitors center:
and a lot of buildings:
and Cade's Cove is just, overall, a really pretty place to spend a sunny day.