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SMOKIES — The overwhelming popularity of vehicle-free Wednesdays in Cades Cove — giving cyclists and walkers a chance to experience the idyllic valley in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park without cars in the picture – has now gotten even better.

A shuttle service is now available to transport people and their bikes from Townsend, Tennessee, to Cades Cove, allowing people to bypass the parking headaches.

Bike the fabled Cades Cove Loop without cars in the picture

While traffic is banned on the Cades Cove loop road on Wednesdays during the summer, the popularity has led to a parking crunch, with jockeying for spaces causing conflicts and congestion.

So far this year, parking fills up by 8 a.m. and stays full until 1 p.m., resulting in hundreds of cars being turned away during that time period.

“Our staff has worked hard to manage safe parking access, including adding 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 Smokies Superintendent Cassius Cash.

The shuttle service will provide an opportunity for visitors to guarantee access during the morning hours. Advanced reservations are encouraged.

The shuttle service will be provided by Rocky Top Tours from Townsend, to Cades Cove between 8 a.m.-3 p.m. each Wednesday through Sept 1. Shuttle service may be booked online at www.rockytoptours.com. Tickets for the roundtrip shuttle service, including transport of personal bikes, is $25 per person.