You’ll see a lot more than just 10 different animals around Cades Cove, but we’ve managed to shorten the list to just our favorites. Get out there on your next Smoky Mountain adventure and see what other critters you manage to find!
1. Black Bear
The biggest wildlife you’re going to encounter in Cades Cove is the black bear. They won’t be out during the winter, so your best bet is between spring and fall. Black bears aren’t naturally aggressive towards people and are likely to be quite scared of you. However, exercise caution near them. Don’t approach black bears. Don’t run towards one or away from one. Avoid eye contact.
Deer are everywhere in Cades Cove. Year-round and at all hours of the day and night there will be deer roaming the area. Cades Cove is home to whitetail deer, so if all you’ve ever seen before is the more common mule deer, these creatures are quite a sight.
A bobcat spotting isn’t likely. These big kitties are very shy and reclusive. If you do manage to spot one, consider it the holy grail of Cades Cove animal watching. Bobcats are incredibly wary of humans by nature, but they are fast and strong. This is one animal that should be viewed calmly and from a great distance.
These mischievous critters will be prowling around in the evenings, looking for food and shiny objects. They may look like cuddly, oversized cats, but don’t approach them. These little bandits are best enjoyed from a distance.
Cades Cove has over 200 species of birds, not the least of which is the wild turkey. These cheerful birds can be a lot of fun. You may have to look closely, though, the females and babies blend in extremely well.
The foxes are unlikely to be found lounging about in open sight, but you may stumble across one of their dens. Resist the urge to poke around, there may be babies trying to sleep in there!
Coyotes are nocturnal, so you’re unlikely to spot them unless you’re out around dusk or dawn. They’re basically lanky grey foxes and they’re really fast. If you do spot one, it will probably be in the process of darting off somewhere else.
Even if you don’t spot the beavers, you’ll likely see their handiwork all over the cove. Beavers are busy little animals. They work long hours and have a lot to show for it. Be careful that you don’t disturb any of their hard work on your journey.
These playful little critters are all over near the water. You may see their head poking out above the surface of the water, or you might see them lounging on logs. Whatever the circumstance, you “otter” take some good photos, because these little creatures are too cute!
We’re not talking about wild horses. At Cades Cove, you can choose to tour the land on horseback! The Riding Stables can hook you up with a trail ride, a hay ride, or even a carriage ride. So, no matter what your preferred style, you’re guaranteed to see at least one animal--horses!
Remember to exercise an appropriate level of caution around wildlife, both for your own safety and the safety of the animals. Maintain your distance, stay on the designated path and make sure your whole group sticks together.