Whether you're a first-time visitor or a seasoned pro, when you're planning a trip to the Smoky Mountains, one thing is always on your mind – will I see a bear at my cabin in Gatlinburg? While it's true that black bears are native to the area and there's always a chance of spotting one, don't let that stop you from enjoying everything the region has to offer. With plenty of activities to keep you busy during your stay, you're sure to have an unforgettable vacation – even without seeing a bear!
Bears of the Great Smoky Mountains
Approximately 1,500 black bears call the Great Smoky Mountains National Park their home. However, you probably will not see them frolicking about without a care in the world. If you do encounter a bear, remember to respect its space; this is its home, after all. Here are some things to keep in mind about bears, should you happen to come across one:
Black bears are most active in the early morning or late evening hours during the warm months; therefore, it’s ideal to schedule most outdoor activities for the middle part of the day.
Black bears have a terrific sense of smell. To avoid accidentally luring them to your cabin or vehicle, do not keep food items outside of the cabin, even if they’re in a cooler.
In the rare instance that you see a black bear, back away and get your party into the cabin. If you’re approached, shout and make as much noise as possible. Black bears are naturally curious, but often run away when they’ve been startled.
Stay on designated hiking trails and if you’re trying to catch photos of black bears, stay a safe distance away.
Don’t Feed the Bears
Encountering black bears near your cabin is not likely to happen, but it isn’t unheard of to see them wandering around the woods during a hike. While this sudden sight might be a surprise, keep in mind that black bear attacks are very rare. For both your safety and theirs, do not attempt to feed bears human food. Avoid approaching them too closely, and you should have no problem coexisting with them.
Again, do not leave food or food containers around your campsite, and be sure to throw all trash in animal-resistant receptacles. With a couple of simple measures, you can ensure that your stay in Gatlinburg will be as safe as it is enjoyable.