Top 7 Smoky Mountain Animals You Might See on Your Visit

white tailed deer

The Smoky Mountains are known for a wide variety of animals. There are over 65 species of mammals, hundreds of bird varieties, and more than 80 types of reptiles and amphibians. We want to tell you about these creatures and where you are likely to see them in the national park. Here are the top 7 Smoky Mountain animals you might see on your visit:

1. Black Bears

black bear cub in cades cove

The number one animal people look for in the Smokies is a black bear. It’s kind of like the park’s mascot. There are about 1,500 black bears in the Smoky Mountains, which equals out to 2 bears per square mile. The Great Smoky Mountains have the densest population of black bears in the United States. The places you are likely to see black bears in the park are in Cades Cove and along hiking trails. Just remember to stay farther than 50 yards away from them for your safety and theirs.

2. White Tailed Deer

Another animal in the Smoky Mountains you’re likely to see is a white tailed deer. They are more active at night, so the best time to see one of these deer is early in the morning or right before sunset. Open areas, such as Cades Cove or Cataloochee, are ideal for spotting white tailed deer.

3. Salamanders

salamanders in the smoky mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the salamander capital of the world. There are over 30 species of salamanders within the park, which is more than anywhere else. About 26 species are lungless, meaning they exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide through their skin. You’re likely to find these amphibians under rocks, near creeks, and beside waterfalls.

4. Birds

There are about 200 varieties of birds in the Smoky Mountains. About 85 of those migrate from neotropics, and about 120 nest in the park. Wild turkey like to eat in open areas, and in wooded areas, you might see a saw-whet owl. All kinds of warblers are abundant in this area, as well as many other small birds.

5. Squirrels

red squirrel

At any time during the day, you are likely to see squirrels if you look up into the trees. Red squirrels and northern flying squirrels. If you decide to have a picnic, you might just see squirrels waiting nearby to sneak some food!

6. Elk

Elk were one of the animals that were completely wiped out of the Smoky Mountains when settlers first came to the area. The National Park Service has worked hard to reintroduce elk to the Smokies. They mostly stay in Cataloochee, but you might see them on the Tennessee side of the national park.

7. Coyotes


Coyotes are the most active in the Smokies at night. They hunt and fish during this time, so you are more likely to see one early in the morning or right before sunset. If you’re in the park at all near nightfall, you just might hear them howling.

These are just a few of the Smoky Mountain animals you could spot the next time you’re in town. Since you’re probably an animal lover, we want you to know you can actually bring your furry friend with you on vacation! Look through our pet friendly cabin rentals in Gatlinburg and start planning your next trip so you might see animals in the Smokies!