John Oliver Cabin – Great Smoky Mountains




Escape To The Smokies Ep. 3 - John Oliver Place Smoky Mountains National Park


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The John Oliver Cabin is one of the first historical structures that you come across in Cades Cove. You may not automatically recognize the significance of the John Oliver Cabin, but it is one of the most important structures in Cades Cove. With that being said, why should you pull over your car and walk down the path to the John Oliver Cabin and take in the beauty of Cades Cove, but also explore this historical building.

Location Of The John Oliver Cabin

As you can imagine Cades Cove is a large and very popular part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. However, what you may not realize if this is your first trip is all the historical buildings in this one section of the large national park. So where is the John Oliver Cabin in relation to the Cades Cove motor loop?

Well, the answer is this is the first of the historical buildings you will come upon. The cabin is located on the right side of the roadway when you are first starting down the one way motor loop. The pull offs can be busy so you may have to walk a distance to get back to the cabin, but it is well worth it.

Features Of The Cabin

  • One of the original cabins in the Cades Cove area.
  • Cabin has a lot of the historical prospects in place.
  • The cabin does have a lovely walk back to the cabin on a gravel path.

Provides A Nice Gentle Walk To The Cabin

As you can imagine hiking and even walking to a point in the Great Smoky Mountains can be exhausting at times. Sometimes that stems from the fact that you have to walk up a hill or as in the case in some of the other buildings in the Cades Cove region the muddy path to follow with a nature spring in the path. However, when you are walking to the John Oliver cabin here it is actually very easy for you to walk to with a graveled path.

The path back to the cabin is fairly level as well, which makes it easier to walk back to as well. Now, this is another great feature and makes it easier for you to enjoy if you have trouble breathing. What else is nice and what I have seen in the past is the path back to the cabin with the gravel is somewhat wheelchair friendly so even relatives that are in a wheelchair, are able to access the cabin yard area.

If you are using a wheelchair or wearing nicer shoes you may want to be cautious around the cabin as it can get muddy. Still, that does not impact the path or the walk back to the cabin directly. With that being the case, though, the grassy meadows are definitely a great feature to enjoy looking around and just imaging what this part of Cades Cove looked like many years ago.

Allows For Views Of The Mountains

One of the main reasons that you come to Cades Cove is the older buildings and the amazing look of the cove. However, when you park at the John Oliver Cabin pull off and are going to walk back to the cabin you will be able to look at the mountains that are surrounding the cabin.

I know that for me the last time I went to this part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park it was in May and still you could see the snow on the mountains. With that being the case, you can start to take in the breath taking views that are present from the porch here. If you are wanting to great a great view, which I have done before is to walk out onto the porch and look across the cove or walk behind the cabin and look back.

What else I really enjoy doing is looking at the trees that are around the cabin. Granted, they are not as numerous as what they used to be I am sure, but they are great to look at.

John Oliver Cabin - Great Smoky Mountains

Carr’s Northside Cottages and Motel

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This is an affiliate link and if you book through the link I may get a small commission.
Carr’s Northside Cottages and Motel is located a short 14 minute walk from the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Anakeesta and only a minute longer walk to traffic light 6. Carr’s offers a seasonal pool, free WiWi, air conditioning, a kitchen and laundry area. For the crowded Gatlinburg area the free parking is definitely a plus.

Significance Of The Cabin

Some people may think that the cabin is not really that important or impressive. However, that is not the case as this was one of the first cabins in the cove.

The history of the cabin in that regard is quite impressive. Now, the other thing that is significant is that the cabin is still standing in the original spot that it was when it was built. In some instances, outside of routine maintenance to keep the cabin standing the wood is still the same that was used to built the cabin the first time.

While that may not seem that interesting to some people, mainly the kiddos that you have with you, it has the significance of being the first stop on the Cades Cove Loop Tour. Now, the other thing that makes the cabin and the stop significant is the scenery that is around it and just the way the cabin is positioned for optimal day light and other factors that were important at the time.

John Oliver Cabin - Great Smoky Mountains

Who Was John Oliver

John Oliver is definitely a character that a lot of people would be interested. I can only imagine with the information that he has related to him with the formation of the Cades Cove region and how important of a figure he would become.

Now, what you need to realize is Tennessee by the time that John Oliver moved to Cades Cove was already being settled by the European settlers at the time. With John Oliver, he was a veteran from the War of 1812 and with his wife Lurena Frazier they were the first permanent settlers in the region that we call Cades Cove now. The Oliver’s did have another traveler Joshua Jobe who traveled with them, but ended up returning to a different part of Tennessee.

The Oliver family, as you can see in the cabin, did not leave. Instead, they opted to tough out the winter. Oddly, the Oliver family would survive mainly from the help of the Cherokee tribe that was native to the land. The Cherokee tribe would give the Oliver family dried pumpkins to live off of, which I can only imagine was good, but like eating everything all the time can become repetitive in eating.

The spring of 1819 would see Jobe, the traveler with the Olivers in the first place return to Cades Cove. To help ease the pain and suffering the Oliver family was experiencing Jobe would give the Oliver’s two dairy cows.

What a lot of people do not realize is how important religion would play to the Oliver family. The Cades Cove Baptist Church is actually a descendant of the first church that the Oliver’s started. The Olivers were able to organize and managed a branch of the Miller’s Cove Baptist Church in Cades Cove.

What Should I Bring To Enjoy The Visit

As you can imagine each place in Cades Cove can make you think more about what you need to bring with you to enjoy the stop. Well, this cabin is the first stop for the Cades Cove tour so what you need is not really going to impact anything and the walk back to the cabin is not so long that you would get thirsty.

So what actually should you bring with you? I would bring my camera or video camera for sure. Now, that it is settled you may want to bring extra film if your camera uses film and batteries as well. While the cabin is not reported for being haunted, I have had my batteries drain fairly quickly here before.

The other thing that you may want to bring along and what I have found fun to do with my kids is a journal book. In the journal book you can write down or your kids can write down what interested them about the stop. What I would write down would be the features that I would not be able to get a picture of or if I did get an odd picture write down the specific reason why I took that picture.

John Oliver Cabin - Great Smoky Mountains

Margaritaville Resort

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By clicking and booking in this link I may get a small commission based off of the affiliate link here.
Rated at 9.6 out of 10 on Expedia, Margaritaville Resort is one that will provide you with plenty of relaxation and enjoyment. The resort is located a short 4 minute walk from the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, and a 14 minute walk from the Gatlinburg Skylift Park. The resort offers a pool, free WiFi, free parking, and air condition. Margaritaville Resort even has an on site spa and restaurant. Make sure you book today!

Animals Possibly In View

A very common animal that is in view of the John Oliver Cabin and a reason that pets are not allowed on the trail is turkeys. The turkeys are commonly seen just walking around in the grass in front of the cabin and it makes it easier for you to see the turkeys pecking and even hear the thumping and gobbling of the tom turkeys and the high pitched chirps from the hens.

Deer are definitely another common animal that you can see around the cabin. The deer tend to be a bit more flighty than what the turkeys are so you generally will see them at a longer distance.

Finally a common animal that has been seen in Cades Cove that is very difficult to spot most of the seasons is the black bear. This bear is very hard to see and when you do see them it is important to maintain a safe distance, as it is the law, but also to make sure you are safe.

Precautions To Take

A big problem lately in Cades Cove is the traffic. So the number one precaution to take would be worried about the traffic that is in the area and cars coming into and pulling off into the parking lot for the John Oliver Cabin.

Another precaution to take would involve some of the animals in the area. Yes, this is an outdoor location that you have to hike to. Since it is an outdoor place and you have to hike you will be exposed to insects that can sting and bite you. Most of the time the insects will leave you alone, but their is always the off chance of getting bitten by a bug.

Finally, I hate to say this but if it has been raining a lot you have to be careful of mud. The area around the cabin does have grass, but it can wash out and get muddy if it has rained quite a bit. At the same time if it has rained the wood is older and can start to get a little bit on the slick side.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is The John Oliver Cabin The First Cabin?

No, the original cabin was more of a shack and has been replaced by the cabin now only a year or two later.

What Did The Olivers Stay In At First?

The cabin was a later addition only a few yards from the original place. However, the first structure the Oliver family stayed in has been claimed to be a Cherokee hut.

What Is The Significance of The Olivers?

The main part that is significant for the Oliver family is the fact that they were the first European permanent settlers in Cades Cove.

When Was The John Oliver Cabin Built?

While reports vary the cabin that you are able to see on the motor tour and walk up to is reported to have been built in 1821.

Is The John Oliver Cabin Original?

A surprising bit of information for you here and that is the fact that the cabin is original! It is the cabin that was build for the son in the family.

Pros And Cons Of Stopping

  • Is a historical cabin that you can visit.
  • Is open to the public.
  • Provides a nice calming walk back to the cabin.
  • The cabin does not cost anything to tour.
  • Chance to see how the pioneers would have lived.
  • Cades Cove is very popular so it can become crowded.
  • The path and the area around the cabin can get muddy or wet if it has rained recently.
John Oliver Cabin - Great Smoky Mountains

Bear Creek Inn

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Price and room availability varies please click link for latest information.
The Bear Creek Hotel is a location that has a comfortable bed and place for you to lay down at night. The rooms offer free WiFi in the rooms along with the popular family amenities of microwaves and mini-fridges.

Who Would Like Stopping Here

Anyone who has a love of history would like to stop here. The cabin has a lot of significance that you would want to see and even the ability just to walk into a house that is around the 200 year old mark in America is a major draw for a lot of people.

The second group that would like to stop here would be the people who like seeing the beauty of Cades Cove. Yes, I know the main focus is the John Oliver Cabin here, but it is not the only focus. I found that just walking to the cabin is often going to be calming enough and provide plenty of beauty to look at.

Who Would Not Want To Stop

This is a hard one to answer because I find the cabin such a great stop. Well, after some thought I think the people that would not want to stop would be the people that do not like the older buildings or even exploring the older buildings.

The other people that would not really want to stop, especially if the stop is crowded, would be people who do not like crowds. The crowds here are relatively small because of the smaller parking area, but still for some people just being around a couple of extra people that are not relatives the anxiety can be overpowering.

My Final Thoughts On The John Oliver Cabin

If you have been a long time reader of our blog our just starting out you will quickly find that one thing that I love is the Great Smoky Mountains. Now, what you may also notice is that I tend to try to stick to anything that allows me to hike or enjoy the fresh mountain air. With that being said, Cades Cove is one stop that I love to make anytime that I am in Gatlinburg. Still, the chance to walk up and just see how far we have come in advances for the creature comforts we all take for granted versus what was around in the 1820’s when the John Oliver Cabin was built definitely is a must do. Overall, if you are able to take the gentle walk up the gravel path, it does get muddy at times, I would highly recommend it as this is one cabin that has withstood the test of time and should continue to do so for years to come.

John Oliver Cabin - Great Smoky Mountains

Bear Creek Inn

Varies Varies
Price and room availability varies.
The Bear Creek Hotel is a location that has a comfortable bed and place for you to lay down at night. The rooms offer free WiFi in the rooms along with the popular family amenities of microwaves and mini-fridges.


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