5 Best Places to See Bears in the Smoky Mountains

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5 Best Places to See Bears in the Smoky Mountains

How do I find a black bear? The American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) has dominated the Smoky Mountains. In fact, bear populations are plentiful in Smokies and are present throughout the park. Currently around 1, 500 bears live at Smoky Mountain National Park. The bear's population density is about two bears per square mile.

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where to see bears in Gatlinburg

What Time Do Bears Come Out in Gatlinburg?

Bear viewing is usually more common at night and early morning, when bear activity is greatest, so if you want a chance of spotting a bear, the best time to visit is from sunrise up until around 9:00 Am.

Cades Cove

cades cove, smoky mountains, tennessee

Cades Cove is one of the best places on the Great Smoky Mountain to view wildlife. Cades Cove, a valley that's abundant in wide open spaces compared to other parks that are largely wooded, offers a large amount of open space. It is hard to protect bears when trees or bushes aren't covered. Cades Cove also makes traveling very easy because its 11 mile long loop road makes it easy to see animals from anywhere. If you drive through a valley check the tree line to find bears. When bears are found near Cades Cove, everyone knows about them as traffic slows down.

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

The Roaring Fork Motor Trail is a great spot for seeing bears in Gatlinburg. The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trailoffers a great spot to see wildlife because it is only a short stroll from Chalet Village and Pigeon Forge Strips. The one-way loop route of 5.5 miles is popular for bears due to the large number of berries in the region. Depending on your luck, you might see a bear enjoying her lunch on the trails. Early afternoon hours and late afternoon hours make the most enjoyable days for a tour.

One lesser known, but still spectacular drive closer to Gatlinburg may be the Roaring Fork Nature Trail. The 5km one-way loop is also shorter than the Cades Cove. But never be fooled about your proximity to the city. It remains one of the best places to watch black bears. During a hike to find one of our best-known animals in the Smokies, there will still be opportunities to stretch your legs. Rainbow Falls, Grotto Falls and many old housesites make an amazing early morning or late afternoon visit during your holiday.

Other Places to See Bears in the Smoky Mountains

When on your trip, look for a Bear include : Little River Road.

Little River Road

On the Newfound Gap Route you can see wildlife on the roadways, including moose, turkey and bears. It is even better since it connects Gatlinburg to Cades Cove, to help keep an eye on bears on their journey to that beautiful area.

Seek out the open areas

Cades Cove has a rich fauna that includes raccoons, deer, and turkey. Cove has a wonderful location for observing the fauna of bears and other animals. Scan trees and their tops. Many visitors to Cove passed through a bear on the road and they never spotted him in the shadow. I suggest you bring binoculars, particularly at Cades Cove, so you have a clear and pleasant view.

Watch the people

If you see lots of gawkers you should walk in till you get what the person is observing. Perhaps it'll be wolves or turkeys. Big groups sometimes mean that bears or elks are in the vicinity. Ensure you are safe distance from anyone. That's a good policy, too. Black bears can often be seen circling downtown Gatlinburg. Almost every time someone is in a crowd, there are chances of bears.

Newfound Gap Road

smoky mountains, tennessee, new found gap road

When you travel on Newfound Gap Road it's possible to find bears on your way. Keep vigilance while driving along streams, as bears prefer the area for food sources. It is also worth noting that the scenic 32 mile trail through mountainous regions provides stunning mountain views.

How likely is it to see a bear in Gatlinburg?

It's really good to see bears here at Gatlinburg! Our experience of seeing Bears in a variety of conditions has been exemplary. Although we can't promise the possibility of seeing wolves or bobcats during a trip, we can say that you have very good chances of seeing them if you visit the right place during your trip.

Chataloochee Valley

Similar to Cades Cove, these areas are open to the public for observation of bear eagles. This is a quieter, less traveled part of the park so bears are often foraging around this location. In the same section there also exists an elk herd which gives you another chance to see some elk in person! If you don't know about elks you are amazed by their enormous size.

When is the best time of day to see black bears?

Black bears are most active during the early morning hours (5am-5am / 9am) and evening time (5pm-8pm). Bear usually do their best to avoid human contact, snoozing or hopping in dense forests or snooting at their home . Therefore, when you see Black Bears, you'd better look to make sure you haven't left food in a car or outside the cabins.

Three Bears General Store

The bears in their observation site of these unique stores have been saved from nearby farms and have been in care at the General Store for more than 20 years. Each bear has his own private nest in their habitat. Location: 261 Parkway, Pigeon Forge. Find details on three Bears stores here.

Other Areas of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Cades Cove may not be the only place to see bears within this park. We saw a mother and two children on the trail of The Laurel Falls. All around the park are very good places to visit bears. Nonetheless you should try Cades Creek or the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail - a beautiful scenic route known for it's incredible animal viewing.

Bonus: Ober Gatlinburg Wildlife encounter

If you still haven't seen any black bears in the wild, don't fret. Luckily Ober Ski Mountain has a wildlife encounter exhibit that features black bears, birds, owls, raccoons and bobcats.

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