Unless you're up for a 14-mile hike, that is.
Advertisement
The John P. Cable Grist Mill in Cades Cove, Great Smoky
Credit: Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images

When you plan a vacation to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, you've probably got a handful of things on your to-do list ranging from a 5:00 a.m. wake-up call to looking for elk bugling to visiting the observation tower at the top of Clingmans Dome.

Now, one of the park's most popular tourist attractions, Cades Cove, in Eastern Tennessee, is being closed to all vehicles for repairs, per an announcement from the National Park Service (NPS). "Cades Cove and Laurel Creek Road past the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont will be closed beginning 8:00 pm Sunday, January 5 through February 29, 2020 for repairs to the Bote Mountain Tunnel on Laurel Creek Road," the alert read on the NPS' website. Laurel Creek road is the only road in to visit the popular 11-mile, one-way, scenic loop, comprised of a beautiful valley known for wildlife viewing, waterfalls, and picturesque walking and biking trails. The loop also features a working grist mill, three churches, log houses, and some more beautifully restored 18th and 19th century structures.

Credit: Robert Alexander/Archive Photos/Getty Images

If you've really got your heart set on visiting Cades Cove, there is one other way you can get there—by following the old adage that "two heels are better than four wheels," that is, hiking it. In addition to official park vehicles, "hikers can use Rich Mountain Road as well, if they're prepared for the 14-mile round trip," reports the Knoxville News Sentinel.

"During the short days of the winter months, this leaves limited time to explore the Loop Road for most hikers," the National Park Service press release read, via KnoxNews.com. "Due to the increased employee traffic, cyclists, and horseback riders are prohibited from using the narrow, gravel roadway during the closure period." During the repairs, the Cades Cove Campground will remain closed, and they will stay so until March 5th. Nearby camping options include Elkmont Campground, just outside of Gatlinburg, and Smokemount Campground in Cherokee, North Carolina.

For updates on Cades Cove, you can check on NPS.gov here.

WATCH: Gatlinburg Is Getting Its Very Own Treehouse Resort Next Year

As bummed as we are to know our winter vacation may not include a picturesque drive on this beloved route, at least this gives us permission to spend another day at Dollywood or enjoying the ice bumper cars at Ober Gatlinburg. See you in the mountains.