Whether found deep in a range of mountains or hidden along a stormy shore, a sheltered basin is known as a cove. The word is most commonly applied to a water-filled niche along a coast encircled on three sides by land, as if by protecting arms. These watery coves are found inside bays and are often homes to settlements and fleets of fishing vessels. Inland, a plain or valley that extends into mountains is often called a cove. In the southern Appalachians, coves are gently sloping valleys surrounded on all sides by peaks. Even in this use they have a connection to water: the shape of the land tends to funnel moisture into such valleys, creating damp enclaves with tremendous plant diversity. Perhaps the most famous is Cades Cove in the heart of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In addition, the term is sometimes used to describe a small, cirquelike nook in a cliff worn into the land by weathering or erosion.

John DeBlieu