Top 4 Places to See Bears in the Smoky Mountains

two bear cubs sitting in a tree

Most folks spending a vacation at Chalet Village hope to see a bear during their time in Gatlinburg. After all, the black bear is the unofficial symbol of the Smokies and you can see it on virtually every type of merchandise in the souvenir shops in downtown Gatlinburg! While there is never a guarantee that you will see bears in the Smoky Mountains, there are some places that you can visit to increase your odds! Here are the top 4 places to see bears in the Smoky Mountains:

1. Cades Cove

black bear cub in cades cove

One of the top places to see bears in the Smoky Mountains is at Cades Cove, a broad valley surrounded by mountains that offers some of the best opportunities for wildlife viewing in the national park! The best way to explore the area is to drive along the 11 mile loop road that circles the cove. It can be beneficial to drive the Cades Cove Loop Road in the early morning and just before sunset, as this is when bears are typically most active. As you drive along the road, carefully scan the trees because you might just see a bear taking a nap among the branches! It is also a great idea to bring some binoculars along since you always want to keep a safe distance for bears!

2. Roaring Fork Nature Trail

Another popular destination for bear sightings is the Roaring Fork Nature Trail, a 5.5 mile one-way loop road that offers beautiful mountain streams, old-growth forests and several well preserved historic buildings. Bears are common in this area due to the abundance of acorns, nuts and berries. You can travel this road at a leisurely pace while searching for bears, but just remember to keep your eye on the road too as it is not unusual for a bear to cross directly in front of your car!

3. Wildlife Encounter at Ober Gatlinburg

bear standing on rocks

If you absolutely have to see bears in the Smoky Mountains during your Gatlinburg vacation, head over to the Wildlife Encounter at Ober Gatlinburg! This privately funded zoo is proud to share their black bear family with visitors, which includes Minnie and BJ as well as their children Holly and Chief. You can view these bears up close in a safe environment, making it the perfect destination for families with kids. While at the Wildlife Encounter at Ober Gatlinburg, you can also see other animals including river otters, bobcats, birds of prey, turtles, snakes and more!

4. Three Bears General Store

While the last place you might expect to find bears is at a souvenir store in Pigeon Forge, that is actually what you will see at the Three Bears General Store! In addition to every type of souvenir imaginable, this store features a live bear habitat where you can actually feed the bears a cup of food! You can rest assured that these bears live a happy life as the bear habitat is 5,000 square feet, complete with a pond and waterfall. Each of the bears also has their own individual den that is cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Check out all of our cabins in Gatlinburg TN today to plan your vacation near these places to see bears in the Smoky Mountains! We look forward to your stay at Chalet Village!