Cabins USA Logo
Loading Page
(800) 583-6168
Cabins USA Availability Search Icon Availability Search Small Icon

5 Best Places to See Bears in the Smoky Mountains | Cabins USA

Blog Home : Category Posts : Best Places To See Bears in the Smoky Mountains

Wondering where to see bears in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park?

Of all of the beautiful wildlife of the Smoky Mountains, the American Black Bear ( Ursus americanus ) is one of the largest and most impressive species you can see in the national park.

Better yet, bears are plentiful in the Smokies and live in all elevations of the park. It is estimated that around 1,500 bears live inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Since the national park is 800 sq. miles in size, this means bears have a population density of nearly 2 bears per square mile.

As one of the largest nature preserves in the Eastern US, the GSMNP is one of the best places to see black bears in this part of the country.

To view these amazing animals in the Smokies, check out our guide with the 5 best places to see black bears in the Smoky Mountains!

Where To See Black Bears in the Smoky Mountains?

1. Cades Cove

What makes Cades Cove a hot spot for black bears? This verdant valley is home to many mast-producing trees. This means trees that grow acorns and walnuts are a food source for bears. Bears also love to snack on blueberry and blackberry bushes.

Additionally, Cades Cove is a wide and expansive valley that is not overgrown with trees. As a result, this region of the park is the perfect place to see wildlife that would otherwise keep a low-profile in the forest.

As an added perk, you can drive the 11-mile Cades Cove loop for a chance to see a bear from the comfort and safety of your vehicle.

In fact, when driving the loop road, you may find yourself stuck in a "bear jam." This is a traffic jam that is caused by vehicles slowing down to view wildlife like bears or deer.

You can often see bears on the western end of the loop road. This area is at the far end of the cove away from the Cades Cove Campground. Additionally, hiking trails in Cades Cove like the Rich Mountain Loop Trail and Gregory Ridge Trail are good places to see bears as well.

2. The Roaring Fork Motor Trail

This scenic, 5.5 mile-long, one-way, loop-road in the national park that begins and ends in Gatlinburg is famous for its beautiful hiking trails, rushing streams, historic homesteads, and nice waterfalls.

This loop road is also a great place to spot bears! Simply go for a drive on the Roaring Fork during the morning or evening hours and you might just catch a glimpse of a black bear crossing the road.

3. Newfound Gap Road

By driving the Newfound Gap road, you may get a chance to see a bear. Keep your eyes peeled when you are driving next to a river or stream because bears favor these areas as a place to find food.

Better yet, this scenic, 33-mile route that passes through high elevation areas of the national park offers beautiful mountain overlooks to enjoy as well.

4. Little River Road

Like the Newfound Gap Road, you'll have a chance to see wildlife like deer, turkey, and bears by the roadside. Better yet, this route connects Gatlinburg to Cades Cove, so you can keep an eye out for bears on your way to this beautiful part of the Smokies.

5. Cataloochee Valley

Cataloochee Valley is an old community in a remote section of the park, so it is a quiet place for bears to forage. Much like Cades Cove, this is a nice wide area without much tree cover, so it's easier to spot animals like bear and deer.

Additionally, Cataloochee is home to a wild elk herd! One of the most popular times to see elk is during the fall "rut" when bull elk make "bugling" calls and compete for mates.

Bonus: Ober Gatlinburg Wildlife encounter

Since we all can't be lucky enough to spot a black bear in the wild, you might need a backup plan.

Thankfully, Ober Ski Mountain is home to a wildlife encounter exhibit that features black bears, as well as flying squirrels, owls, raccoons, bobcats, river otters, and reptiles.

Map of Places To See Bears

When is the best time of day to see black bears?

Black bears are most active in the early morning hours ( 5 am – 9 am ) and evening hours ( 5 pm – 8 pm ) when they forage for food in the cooler times of the day.

Bears typically do their best to avoid humans and so they spend much of their day in heavily forested areas or snoozing in their den, typically 20 feet off the ground in a hollowed out section of a large tree.

As a result, the best time to see black bears are when they are on the move searching for food.

When is the best time of year to see black bears?

Summer and fall are the times of year when black bears are most active in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is when food sources like tree nuts and berries are plentiful.

During these busy seasons, black bears are preparing for hibernation in the winter and early spring when food sources are scarce.

As a result, you are less likely to see black bears during the cooler times of year because they are much less active and spend the majority of time in their dens.

By late spring, bears begin to be more active as temperatures warm and food becomes more available.

What To Do If You See A Bear While Hiking?

Typically, bears do their best to avoid humans, so it is unlikely that you'll run into one in the backcountry.

However, some areas increase your likelihood of finding a bear. For example, bears tend to congregate around food sources like the berry patches at Spence Field or Mt. LeConte. They also tend to search for food in overgrown areas by streams and rivers where they can find berries, nuts, roots, insects, and fish.

If you do see a bear, give it plenty of space and do not approach it.

Black Bear and Wildlife Safety

Black bears are usually very shy and do their best to avoid human contact. However, bears are wild animals and are unpredictable.

Before visiting the park, we recommend reviewing the park service's guide to bear safety.

This useful guide has great tips on how to keep yourself safe if you do see a bear.

Final Thoughts

Plan a trip to the Smoky Mountains so you can see the beautiful wildlife this region offers! Be sure to check out our excellent cabins in Pigeon Forge when planning your vacation!

Written by

Recent Articles

Pigeon Forge Dining: Top 5 Italian Restaurants

Top 5 Italian Restaurants in Pigeon Forge, TN

Add more flavor and zest to your next Pigeon Forge vacation by checking out our picks for the top 5 Italian restaurants in Pigeon Forge, TN.
Vacation Tips: Best Places To Get Drinks In Pigeon Forge

Top 9 Places to Get Drinks in Pigeon Forge and Sevierville

Up your Pigeon Forge vacation experience with your favorite people by checking out our picks for the top 9 places to get drinks in Pigeon Forge.
Vacation Tips: Best Family Restaurants In Pigeon Forge

Best Family Restaurants in Pigeon Forge, TN

Enjoy quality time with the family on your next vacation in Pigeon Forge by adding our picks of the best family restaurants in Pigeon Forge to your travel plans.


Fall In The Great Smoky Mountains | Pigeon Forge | Gatlinburg - Blog Post

Fall Activities

Check out the many activities to do in the fall in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Townsend, Wears Valley, and Sevierville.
Pigeon Forge Happening Now - Blog Post

Pigeon Forge Happening Now

We've got news, events, and tips to make your vacation in Pigeon Forge and the Smoky Mountains better than ever! Check
Smoky Mountain Vacation Tips - Blog Post

Smoky Mountain Vacation Tips

Tennessee Smoky Mountain vacation tips great for planning your family vacation, honeymoon or group getaway in the Smok
Smoky Mountains Blog | Whats Happening Now - Blog Post

Smoky Mountains - Happening Now

Smoky Mountains blog posts covering events before and as they happen throughout the Tennessee Smoky Mountains area. S

Please Note: Cabins USA LLC's, hereinafter referred to as Cabins USA, area information, area events, and blog pages are provided as a public service. Cabins USA does not endorse any of the products, vendors, consultants, or businesses referenced in these web pages. Any mention of vendors, products, businesses, or services on the Cabins USA web site is for informational purposes only. Users of this web site are responsible for checking the accuracy, completeness, currency and/or suitability of all information. The inclusion of this information does not imply endorsement by Cabins USA. Furthermore, specific questions regarding any content should be directed to the appropriate organization and not necessarily to Cabins USA.

Cabins USA Official Logo
star star star star star
2140 Parkway
Pigeon Forge, TN  37863
(865) 429-4121

VLS #157
Pigeon Forge Cabins
Guest Reservations
(800) 583-6168
2 Night Minimum

Cabins USA Help Icon
Copyright 2013-2024, Cabins USA LLC, Pigeon Forge, TN

Welcome to Cabins USA! We hope you enjoy your stay with us and look forward to helping you make incredible vacation memories. To help you navigate your Guest User account, we've provided a helpful guide to walk you through the process.

Creating an Account

Creating a guest account is as simple as submitting your email and creating a password. Keep in mind the email used to create your guest account must match the email provided on your reservation.

If a different email is on your reservation, you'll need to create a guest account with that email to manage the reservation.

When finished, an email will be sent to confirm your email address. Follow the steps in the email to complete the creation of your account.

Note: If you need to change the email address on your reservation, please contact the reservations office for further assistance.

Managing Your Account

Once your account is created, you can start managing your reservations. Your guest reservations will show as follows:

Click on the view button to get more details about each reservation. Within the reservation, you'll be able to do three things, which are:

Submit a Trouble Ticket

Click the report issue button for maintenance needs or other concerns during your stay. Briefly describe your issue, provide contact information, and submit up to 3 photos detailing your situation if applicable.

Submit Cancellation Request

This must be done before check-in and per our policies. Within the request, provide a reason for cancellation and click submit. After submitting your request, one of our reservationists must complete the cancellation process before your reservation is canceled.

Make a Payment

For future stays with a balance open, you can make credit card payments from $50 up to the total cost of the reservation.

Additional Information

If you have a future reservation and haven't completed the Express Check-In, please send your confirmation number and email used for the reservation to to request an invitation to complete the process.

After you've signed all reservation documents and paid the balance in full, you'll receive an email with your active stay information 8 hours prior to arrival, which includes the following:

Note: If the reservation documents have not been signed electronically and/or the balance has not been paid three days prior to arrival via the credit card on file, you must check in at our 2140 Parkway office. Our office hours are currently 8:00am - 10:00pm, Monday thru Sunday.

Contact Us

Didn't find the information you needed? Contact Us for further assistance with your reservation or guest account.

Thank you for choosing us for your Smoky Mountain vacation! We look forward to helping you make your dream vacation a reality!

Warm regards,

Cabins USA

Interested in receiving our newsletter? Simply provide your full name and email address in these fields to begin receiving information. By doing so, you can learn about special promotions and events in the Smoky Mountains!

We respect our customer's privacy and feel it is disrespectful to bombard anyone with emails. We treat all information that customers share with us as private and confidential. Cabins USA never shares this information with third party sites.

Arrival Date: Mandatory, select or enter date you will arrive (MM/DD/YYYY)

Nights: Mandatory, select or enter the number of Nights you will be staying with us

Promotional Code: Must enter a valid code

Optional Search Items: (Amenties, Cities, etc)
Below are several boxes in which you can either select from a drop down list or click on a check box to the left of an item to select.

Changing the contents of any drop down list or selecting/deselecting a check box will broaden or narrow the number of properties displayed by your search. You don't have to wait until the search completes to select/deselect items for your perfect search.

You must hit the SEARCH button to start your first search. It is unnecessary to hit the SEARCH button after doing your first search, unless you changed to another web page, changed the Arrival Date or number of Nights.

Add to Favorites: As you visit individual property pages or pages with listings of several properties on them, you have the option to click on the "+ Favorites" for each particular property, which automatically adds the property to your list of Favorites for consideration. The number next to the Favorites tab, left sidebar, will increase up to 99 possible Favorites. When ready, click on the Favorites tab to view a list of your selected Favorites.

Remove from Favorites: You may de-select (remove) properties from your Favorites you no longer wish to consider by either clicking on the minus icon to the right or by clicking on the "- Favorites" displayed on property list pages and each property details page for properties listed in your Favorites.

Compare Favorites: Click in the check boxes to the left of the property name, in your Favorites, you wish to compare. No more than 3 boxes may be selected at one time. When ready, hit the Compare button for a comparison of the 3 selected properties.

Follow the above "Remove from Favorites" instructions to remove a property from the comparison and your Favorites.

To add another property from your Favorites list for comparison, click the check box to the left of the property name in your Favorites and hit the Compare button.

Repeat the above steps to find your ultimate vacation accommodations. Need assistance or have questions, please give us a call so we may better serve you!

View List: Displays a full list of all your Favorites with some details.

Remove All: Clears all properties from your Favorites so you may start over.