Everything You Need to Know About Bears in the Smoky Mountains

A black bear walking through the woods.

When you think of the Smoky Mountains, one of the first images that often comes to mind is the black bear. After all, nearly every gift shop in Gatlinburg has T-shirts, postcards and magnets dedicated to this animal! This is because the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the largest protected areas in the eastern United States where black bears can live in natural surroundings. Here is everything you need to know about bears in the Smoky Mountains:

1. Location of Bears in the Smokies

The black bears can be seen in all elevations of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the surrounding areas. With approximately 1,500 bears in the park, the population density is roughly two bears per square mile! This means that bear sightings in the park are not uncommon, especially during the early morning and late evening hours in spring and summer when they are the most active. Females with newly born cubs usually come out of their winter dens in late March or early April, where the cubs will remain with their mother for about 18 months or until she mates again.

Closeup of a black bear.2. What to Do if You See a Bear

While attacks on humans are rare, remember that bears are wild animals, and they can have unpredictable behavior! If you happen to see a bear while hiking or near your cabin, do not approach the bear and don’t allow the bear to approach you. If you are too close, the bear might make loud noises or swat the ground to demand more space. In that case, do not run but slowly back away to increase the distance between you and the bear. If a bear still persistently approaches, act aggressively and change your direction. The National Park Service has a comprehensive list of how you should react if you see a bear.

3. How You Can Protect Bears

While we think about protecting ourselves from bears, we are also a threat to their safety and well-being. One of the best things you can do to protect bears is to clean up any garbage after having an outdoor picnic. This is because bears lose their fear of people when obtaining human food and garbage, making them more likely to get hit by cars and fall victim to poachers. Therefore, clean up any garbage scraps and dispose them in garbage containers or take them with you for disposal. While it may be tempting to take a picture of a bear, another way to protect them and yourself is to stay at least 50 yards away at all times and never approach the bear.

Where to Stay

The exterior of a beautiful Gatlinburg TN cabin at Chalet Village.

Now that you are familiar with bears and bear safety, you are ready for a vacation in the best cabins in Gatlinburg at Chalet Village! Our beautiful cabins have everything you need for a wonderful vacation to the Smoky Mountains, including scenic views, fully equipped kitchens, bubbling hot tubs and much more!

Check out all of our cabins in Gatlinburg TN today to plan your vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains! We look forward to seeing you soon at Chalet Village!