Cades Cove is located in The Great Smoky National Park near Townsend, Tennessee. It is a popular destination because of its well preserved homesteads of the early settlers and the abundant wildlife in the park. There is an eleven mile loop that you can drive, bicycle, or hike to witness all of the natural beauties located there for yourself. The gates normally open about ten minutes after sunrise and close shortly after sunset. During peak visitation periods it stays pretty crowded so I would suggest getting there an hour early to wait for the gates to open so you can be one of the first through the gates. On a normal day I would guess that it would take about two hours to complete the loop in a car. During peak visitation periods it could easily take twice that amount of time to get through it.
I stayed in the Cades Cove campground in my Jeep. I normally sleep in my Jeep because it saves time setting up tents and I know it will not leak if it rains. The campground was pretty nice and my only complaint was that they had no showers there. If you stay there and are in need of a shower there is a place called Wonderland RV Park near Wears Valley where you can shower for a fee of five dollars.
I will now write about my encounters with the animals there. I will not discuss the photos of the landscapes because I feel they are pretty self explanatory.
As we were driving the loop we noticed a lot of photographers on the side of the road. I was excited because I had a feeling they were photographing a bear and this was my main goal for the trip. Park rangers were already on the scene and they did an excellent job of making sure everyone stayed at least 50 yards away from the animal. I got to watch the bear for about five minutes while it was using its claws to dig in the dirt and peel bark off of fallen trees in search of bugs to eat. I was able to get a few shots off before he wondered back into the woods.
This was another brief encounter. As soon as it sensed us in the area it went running into the woods for cover. It made one stop to check us out before disappearing and this is when I was able to get a few shots off.
This bird was eating grubs and had no fear of me. It came pretty close to me and I am guessing I took about 600 shots of it. I was able to get some great portraits. Its always fun when an animal cooperates with the photographer.
At sunset there was quite of few of these flying from one side of a field to the other. I am guessing they were searching for a place to roost for the night.
This bird briefly showed itself. It was there just for a couple of seconds and was very skittish.
I watched a couple of Toms strutting their stuff for all of the hens to see. Wild turkeys are always fun to watch.
I had two encounters with some nice bucks. A six pointer chasing about four does and an eight pointer running through the field by itself. It was a sure sign that the rut had begun and the fittest were looking to make sure their genes were past down. To the next generation.
Written October 30th 2016