black bears in the smoky mountains
September 8, 2023

If you are planning to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and are interested in the incredible wildlife that call the park home, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve put together some of the best tips for spotting all different kinds of Tennessee wildlife that live here at the national park. Just remember to always keep your distance from the animals and not to disturb them in any way, including by feeding them. Following park rules regarding wildlife is an important part of safeguarding these incredible creatures! With that in mind, here are some of the best tips for spotting wildlife here at the park:


One of the most popular types of Tennessee wildlife among visitors are the famous black bears of the Smoky Mountains! If you’re looking to spot these incredible creatures during your visit, you’re in luck. There are plenty of places you can spot black bears here at the park, but arguable none better than Cades Cove! With plenty of wide-open spaces, Cades Cove offers long sight lines with higher potential to spot bears. Additionally, you can take a drive along the 11 mile loop road, which offers plenty of chances to see bears if you keep your eyes peeled! Just remember to follow some essential safety tips when viewing bears, including staying far away from the animals (at least 50 yards) and using binoculars to get a better view.


deer in the woods

If you want to spot some white-tailed deer here at the park, Cades Cove is also a great destination for you! There are lots of white-tailed deer that enjoy the wide-open spaces of Cades Cove, giving you the chance to view these animals in their natural habitat.


Although the original elk found in the Smoky Mountains are no more, the park reintroduced elk beginning in 2001 and the area now has a healthy population! The best spot to view elk is in Cataloochee Valley, as this is the area most of them call home. Remember that elk can be dangerous animals, so you should follow similar safety precautions as you would with a black bear!


brown creeper bird

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park sees more than 240 species of birds each year, with about 60 species that are year-round residents. While you can spot birds from plenty of areas, especially overlooks like Campbell’s Overlook, you will tend to hear the birds more than you see them. Try listening for the unique sounds that each type of bird makes! In addition to smaller birds, the Smoky Mountains are also home to some larger birds such as hawks and turkeys. These birds can most often be spotted in open areas such as Cades Cove and Cataloochee Valley.


The Smokies are known as the “Salamander Capital of the World” for a reason! With 30 documented species of salamanders in the park, there are plenty of chances to spot this interesting type of Tennessee wildlife. You can often spot these creatures on rocks and logs next to streams, just be careful not to disturb their natural habitat!

When you follow all of the important safety tips and park rules, you’ll have an incredible time viewing the Tennessee wildlife here at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park while leaving the environment undisturbed for future visitors and animals. Learn more about wildlife viewing here at the park and start planning your next adventure in the Smokies today!