It may seem peculiar to single out a place visited by two million people every year, but, for citizens of almost every nation state other than those living in the USA, Cades Cove in Tennessee is an unusual destination. It is an unusual destination because Tennessee is not the first state that most non-US citizens would choose to visit (although I think Tennessee is fascinating). Moreover, when non-US citizens do visit Tennessee, they are drawn instead to, say, Memphis, Nashville and/or those parts of the remarkable Smoky Mountains in the area of Clingman’s Dome (they might even be drawn to Dollywood, if they are fans of a famous diminutive female country and western star!).
Cades Cove is a large, relatively flat, upland area surrounded by hills and mountains. White Americans first settled on the land in the 1820s. Today, Cades Cove forms part of the Smoky Mountains National Park. Once, hundreds of small-scale farms took advantage of the fertile soil. Villages, hamlets, homesteads, barns and mills lay among the fields and the pasture. Eventually people abandoned the land, but some of their distinctive wooden buildings survive, churches included. To this day, cattle are allowed to graze to ensure the land does not revert to forest, but one of the most enjoyable things to do is to follow trails into the surrounding forest where encounters with wildlife (deer, otters, bears, etc.) are frequent.
Cades Cove is most easily accessed from Townsend, a small settlement about 15 miles to the north. Because some of the distinctive Cades Cove architecture exists between Townsend and Cades Cove itself, one or two photos early in the sequence give a feel for what you can enjoy even before entering this delightful bowl of verdant upland countryside.