Wildlife Info

Information about wildlife in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Wildlife

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Wildlife

Black Bear Cherokee Orchard in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park 002
Black Bear Cherokee Orchard 002

When most people use the words “wildlife” and “Great Smoky Mountains National Park” in the same sentence, it is natural to think of black bears. After all, the black bear has been an icon in the park since the days of its inception.

But there is more to wildlife in the Great Smoky Mountains than black bears. Nearly every mammal, reptile, and amphibian known in Appalachia lives here. Continue reading

How to Find Bears in Great Smoky Mountains

How to Find Black Bears in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Black Bear near Roaring Fork
Black Bear near Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

When visitors are asked why they come to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park there are many common answers.

They come for the incomparable mountain views, the over eight hundred miles of hiking trails, the historic structures, the crystal clear streams, rivers and waterfalls and of course the wildlife…

Especially black bears!

Unfortunately many would-be bear spotters have unrealistic expectations when it come to seeing bears in the Smoky Mountains. Although current populations are at historically high numbers, black bears are reclusive and tend to avoid contact with humans. So the odds of actually seeing a bear during a casual visit are not very good. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

The Elk of Cataloochee


Cataloochee Elk Great Smoky Mountains
Cataloochee Elk Great Smoky Mountains

The Elk of Cataloochee

Located in the remote Southeast corner of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the Cataloochee Valley. And since the National Park Service reintroduced elk into the valley in 2001, wildlife lovers from all over the world have crossed the Cataloochee Divide to see the beautiful creatures! Continue reading

Black Bears in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Black Bear in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Black Bear in the Great Smoky Mountains

Black bears are the darlings of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and many of the millions of annual visitors go to great lengths to espy one of these beautiful creatures.

These magnificent yet reclusive mammals can be found throughout the park, but there are several areas where you are more likely to have a close encounter of the “bear” kind.

Cades Cove is one of the most popular areas for bear spotting for a variety of reasons. The large open fields are devoid of trees and allow bear seekers to scan many acres of ground at a time. It is not uncommon to see a bear at long range lumbering along in the middle of the cove.

Another bear hot-spot is the Cherokee Orchard just outside of Gatlinburg. The traditional bear watch starts about an hour before sunset and continues until dark in season.

Bears are most active in the Fall as they load up on calories in preparation for denning all winter. Bears do not hibernate is the truest sense of the word, since they can be easily roused and will often emerge from the den prior to the onset of Spring.

As a result, you won’t see many bears in the winter, and they are less active in Summer than in Spring or Fall. Continue reading