Top Places to See Black Bears in the Smokies

Black bear, oh my!As the weather warms up and wildflowers begin to peek their heads out, we (aka humans) aren’t the only ones who are just now starting to make our way outdoors.  Our friends, the black bears, will also be making their first appearances these next few weeks.  In fact, Great Smoky Mountain National Park officials have said there have already been spottings and markings!

Want to see the beautiful creatures that call the Smokies home?

Here is a list of the top locations to see black bears and other wildlife:

  • Cades Cove: Being one of the parks most famous trails, it is an 11-mile loop of pastureland.  It is a way to preserve the farming history of the park.  Not only will you very likely see black bears roaming around, but also many other wildlife.  Also, due to it’s openness, there are fantastic views!
  • Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail: Hands down, more times than not you WILL see our furry black friends roaming around on this trail.  It is a one-lane stretch that allows you to stay within the comforts of your own vehicle and takes you through downtown Gatlinburg to Roaring Fork in less than a hour.  Be sure to pay close attention to the trees.  This is where they love to play, ESPECIALLY the cubs!
  • Little River Auto Tour: Starting out at the Sugarlands Visitor Center in Gatlinburg and ending at the Cades Cove entrance in Townsend, this 18-mile stretch runs alongside the Little River.  It gives incredible views and a chance to see some bTop places to see Black Bears in Pigeon Forge.ears!
  • Camp/ Picnic Grounds: Finally, it is very likely that you could see some black bears roaming around picnic areas and campgrounds.  Little to no surprise, they are attracted to food so if you leave some laying around, expect a visitor at some point!

The Smokies also has an incredible organization, the Appalachian Bear Rescue, located just outside the park in Townsend.  Bears who are in need of medical care or are orphaned are rehabilitated by the ABR and then put back into the wild when it is their time.

Have any other suggestions where you’ve seen black bears or other wildlife? Please leave a comment! Want to keep up with the latest news on hiking tips and spring events? Subscribe to our E-Newsletter!

Get out there and enjoy what is going to be a beautiful spring full of wildlife!