TOWNSVILLE, N.C. — Vehicle-free Wednesdays in Cades Cove are so popular that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has contracted a shuttle service to bring visitors to the Cove.
There just isn't enough parking at the Cove for everyone who wants to enjoy the popular 11-mile loop on foot or bicycle. Park officials said the parking lot at the Cove is usually full by 8 a.m. on Wednesdays and stays that way until 1 p.m. Hundreds of cars have been turned away because there was nowhere for them to leave their car.
“Our staff has worked hard to manage safe parking access, including making improvements to a field traditionally used for parking that allowed us to add 85 more spots this year. But, the demand still far exceeds the space and we’re hopeful the shuttle service will allow more people the opportunity to enjoy this unique experience,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash.
The shuttle service is a way for visitors to guarantee access during the morning hours. It starts on July 7 and runs through September 1.
Rocky Top Tours will operate the shuttle from Townsend to Cades Cove between 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. each Wednesday. It will cost $25 a person and can be booked here.
If you don't want to take the shuttle, visitors are encouraged to plan their trips in the late afternoons or early evenings to increase your chance of getting a parking space at Cades Cove.
The park is also looking for volunteers to help them at Cades Cove on vehicle-free Wednesdays.
Volunteers help direct visitor flow, provide orientation and safety information, and monitor visitor use. Training and a uniform will be provided to all selected volunteers. If interested, please sign up at https://tinyurl.com/GRSMCCVFD for more information. To be considered for this opportunity, volunteers must be available each Wednesday through September 1.