Everyone wants to see black bears in the Smoky Mountains when they visit! There’s no guarantee you’ll see bears while you’re in town, but you can check out some of the top places in the national park where you are more likely to see them. Here are the top 5 places to see black bears in the Smoky Mountains:
1. Cades Cove
One of the most popular spots to see black bears is Cades Cove. This is the top destination in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You’ll drive along an 11-mile loop road and see all kinds of incredible sights. There are historic buildings, such as churches and cabins, you can explore. You can get out of your car along the side of the road to take pictures or take in the beauty of the area. Wildlife frequents this area, and many people see black bears in the meadows or in the tree line when they are in Cades Cove.
2. Roaring Fork Motor Trail
Another spot where people typically see black bears in the Smoky Mountains is Roaring Fork Motor Trail. This is another popular scenic drive people enjoy in the Smokies. This road is 5.5 miles long and is one way. There are historic buildings along this road, as well as a waterfall you can see from your car. You’ll also find plenty of trailheads for hiking trails. People see black bears as they drive or when they are out of their vehicle.
3. Along Hiking Trails
Of course, one of the ways people see bears in the Smokies is to go hiking. In the backcountry, you’re in the bear’s habitat. You might see paw prints in the mud or evidence of a bear being nearby, and you might see them from a distance. If you do see a bear while you’re hiking, stay at least 50 yards away and keep your distance!
4. Ober Gatlinburg
If you definitely want to see a black bear, you can always check out the Wildlife Encounter at Ober Gatlinburg! This area is like a small zoo where you can see and learn all about the creatures that live in the Smoky Mountains. Not only will you be able to see black bears, you’ll also see otters, skunks, raccoons, and more. Plus, Ober Gatlinburg has all kinds of fun activities, from skiing in the winter to hill tubing in the summer!
5. Three Bears General Store
Three Bears General Store is another place where you can see black bears in the Smoky Mountains. The store has a live bear habitat where you can watch them interact with each other. These bears were rescued from a kill farm and have been at Three Bears General Store for over 25 years! You may see the bears licking the rocks, and that’s because staff puts out enrichment treats for the bears to forage and find for fun!
You’ll love spotting black bears in the Smoky Mountains! It’s a fun activity you won’t want to miss out on. Want to know what else you can do when you stay in one of our cabins? Check out these other Smoky Mountain attractions for more ideas!