When Cades Cove Heritage Tours began operations nearly two years ago, the organization was breaking new ground in the Smoky Mountains by providing guided tours into Cades Cove to help reduce traffic, offer visitors another option when visiting the area, and to provide the human history of the area through knowledgeable tour guides. After much success and growth, the not-for-profit organization is changing its name to Smoky Mountain Discovery to better showcase its expanded range of services and the exciting opportunities it’s offering visitors to the Smoky Mountains.
Along with the name change, Smoky Mountain Discovery will now also offer several new tours, in addition to the traditional Cades Cove Tour. These include the Tremont Logging and Railroad History Tour, a June Firefly night excursion, Cades Cove Cemeteries Tour, Natural Wonders Tour, and a hiker shuttling services that accommodates solo hikers and groups of most any size. The tours are designed to allow hikers to hike from one trailhead to another without having to backtrack or do a loop. Additionally, Smoky Mountain Discovery is offering fully guided, interpretive backcountry hiking adventures for individuals and groups, and overnight backpack trips with gourmet meals and snacks provided.
“Our goal was to offer visitors an eco-friendly alternative to seeing the sights of Cades Cove, and to provide them with the human history behind the scenic beauty. We have gradually added a few other limited tours, and this success has led us to re-evaluate how we approach our business,” said Alex Roché, executive director of Smoky Mountain Discovery. “By expanding our services we hope to broaden our appeal so more visitors allowing them take advantage of the eco-friendly tours and adventures, and we plan to continue to expand our services based on the feedback we receive from our visitors. This is not only beneficial to our community, as we hope it will attract more visitors to the area, it is beneficial to our environment as the tours lessen congestion and pollution.”
This fall, Smoky Mountain Discovery also hopes to continue to expand its services to offer two new fully guided, interpretive tours, a Bulging Elk tour at Cataloochee and a Fall Leaf Tour to Newfound Gap and Clingmans Dome.
“Offering visitors alternative choices for how they experience the Smoky Mountains is vital to our continued success as a destination because it allows us to promote different services that attract visitors to our area. This helps increase the overall tourism revenue for businesses across the board,” said Herb Handly, executive vice president of tourism for the Smoky Mountain Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Smoky Mountain Discovery has done a great job of evolving into a multi-faceted organization that provides visitors with an array of services based on what their wants and needs are. Their efforts to maintain and share the heritage and history of our community, and the environmental benefits of the tour, are also important to Townsend and the Smokies.”
Smoky Mountain Discovery uses a 19-passenger alternative transportation vehicles with an experienced guide to showcase the history, personal stories, and natural resources that make the region so unique. Smoky Mountain Discovery is located at the Townsend Visitors Center, where it moved in April of this year to provide additional services to visitors and to gain more visibility. Additionally, in an effort to establish itself as a source for information about the national park and the area’s history, Smoky Mountain Discovery created an interactive Web site, GSMDiscovery.org, as well as facebook, Twitter and YouTube sites.
Smoky Mountain Discovery is a private, non-profit that was designed to provide visitors with interpretative experiences worthy of the natural wonder and diverse history of the Cove, while at the same time protecting the natural and cultural resource of Cades Cove by lessening the traffic and pollution in the Cove. The tours were made possible by community partners, the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center, Smoky Mountain Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the National Parks Conservation Association. For more information about the tours or tickets, visit cadescoveht.org or call 865-448-8838.