black bear in the smoky mountains
November 1, 2018

When you visit Gatlinburg, keep an eye out for black bears — even when you’re in your hotel! Recently, a visitor of the Margaritaville Resort in Gatlinburg spotted a bear wandering around the lobby. We’ve got all the info on the sighting of the black bear in Gatlinburg and what to do if you see a bear during your visit to the Smoky Mountains.

Black Bear Visits Margaritaville Resort

Eric Bennecker was on a sales call when he spotted something he wasn’t expecting out of the corner of his eye. A black bear was wandering around the lobby in the Margaritaville Resort in Gatlinburg! Bennecker started recording the bear through a window from the resort’s office. Thankfully, no one was inside the lobby with the bear. The black bear walked around the inside of the lobby for a few minutes before using the automatic doors to exit.

Watch the footage of the black bear below:

Black Bears in Gatlinburg

This isn’t the only recent sighting of black bears in Gatlinburg! A number of bears have been spotted throughout the area, both in downtown Gatlinburg and outside of cabins. One even managed to get on the roof of Ripley’s Moving Theater! You can learn more about that encounter and watch the video here. One even paid a visit to a downtown Gatlinburg restaurant and ate a slice of pizza off a table on the patio! Oftentimes bears venture into town when they’re on the hunt for food, so be sure to always pick up all your scraps and trash and throw them away.

Black Bear Safety Tips

black bear in a field

If you do happen to encounter a bear while you’re visiting Gatlinburg, it’s important to know how to keep yourself safe. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Stay a Safe Distance Away: Although you might think the bear looks cute, it’s important to remember they are wild animals, and their behavior can be unpredictable. Keeping a safe distance from the bear helps protect both you and the bear. We recommend staying at least 50 yards away at all times.

Don’t Run: Never run from a bear. A bear’s first instinct is not to harm you. If you run from it, it’s most likely going to chase you. It’s better to move in a way that is not threatening to the bear. Move away slowly and sideways. Not only is this less threatening to the bear, but it allows you to keep your eye on it the entire time.

Don’t Feed the Bear: Bears are not pets. Feeding the black bears will cause them to lose their fear of humans, which then makes their behavior even more unpredictable. If you have food with you, always make sure that it is secured and kept away from the bear. Also be sure to throw away any scraps or trash that you have.

How to Safely View Wildlife

If you want to safely view wildlife, there is no better place to do it than the Smoky Mountains National Park! The national park has an abundance of wildlife. Cades Cove offers spectacular opportunities to see black bears, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and more! And the best part is that you can do it all from the comfort of your car along the Cades Cove Loop Road. Bring some binoculars with you to see all the animals from a safe distance!

For more information on how you can safely see wildlife in the Smoky Mountains National Park, read our blog, “How to See Your Favorite Smoky Mountain Wildlife in the National Park.”