Bears in the Great Smoky Mountains Part 2


Bears in the Great Smoky Mountains Part 2

Black Bear near Roaring Fork Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Black Bear near Roaring Fork

I was reading some reviews about black bears in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and was surprised to learn that many people come to the Park EXPECTING to see a bear. In many cases these reviewers were disappointed.

It occurred to me that there may be an information gap regarding the somewhat large bear population in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the actual likelihood that a park visitor will actually see a black bear.

There are approximately two bears per square mile in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. And while this is a very high density for black bears the reality is that a square mile is a very large area and the odds of being in the right place at the right time is rather remote.

Young black bear in Cades Cove
Young black bear in Cades Cove

Also, there are times when bears are more active than others. Do NOT expect to see black bears in the winter when they are denning. Bears spend the bulk of the winter months in a deep repose that has now been accepted as a form of true hibernation. While the bears are in this state you will not see them.

The best time to see bears is when they are most active, particularly in Autumn as they are fattening up for winter. Many bears return to their same Fall feeding grounds year after year. Many consider the Cherokee Orchard just outside of Gatlinburg Tennessee to be a black bear “hot spot!”

But the best advice that I can offer if you want to see black bears is to spend more time within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park boundaries. You can’t expect to spend ten minutes in the park, see a bear, and head back to Pigeon Forge to ride go-karts. Linger the park. Spend time in open areas like Cades Cove. The more time that you spend in the park, the more likely the possibility that you will see a bear!

And above all always keep in mind that bears are strong and powerful wild animals. Never approach them and always maintain a safe distance. NEVER attempt to feed or bait them. This changes their natural behaviors which may result in their ultimate demise. Safety first at all times!

Part 1 Black bears in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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