black bear in the woods

Top 3 Places to Visit to See Bears in the Smoky Mountains

Many visitors coming to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge hope to see a bear during their vacation in the Smoky Mountains. After all, the black bear is an unofficial mascot for the Smokies! Although there’s never a guarantee you’ll spot a black bear, there are several places you can visit to see these amazing animals. These places are just minutes away from Aunt Bug’s Cabin Rentals! Here are the top 3 places to visit to see bears in the Smoky Mountains:

1. Ober Gatlinburg Wildlife Encounter

black bear mom and cubOne of the top places to see bears in the Smoky Mountains is at Ober Gatlinburg Wildlife Encounter. This privately funded zoo creates a unique opportunity to view native wildlife up close in a safe environment. Some of the animals you can see at the Ober Gatlinburg Wildlife Encounter include river otters, bobcats, birds of prey, flying squirrels, turtles, snakes, and of course bears. The highlight is a black bear family with Minnie and BJ, as well as their now grown children Holly and Chief. You can access this zoo by taking the Ober Aerial Tramway from downtown Gatlinburg or driving to the parking lot at the top of the mountain.

2. Three Bears General Store

The Three Bears General Store in Pigeon Forge is not only a wonderful shopping destination for all your souvenir needs. It is also home to a live bear habitat! This 5,000-square-foot habitat includes a pond and a waterfall, and each bear has an individual den that is cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The bears were rescued from a nearby hunting farm, and they have been cared for by the team at the Three Bears General Store for more than 25 years. You can view these adorable bears from a unique observation area with 2 levels. You can also purchase a cup of bear food to feed the bears, which is a thrilling opportunity for guests of all ages!

3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

black bear in cades coveIf you are hoping to see bears in the Smoky Mountains while hiking through the national park, you may just be in luck! The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the largest protected areas in the eastern United States where black bears can live in their natural surroundings. Experts estimate that around 1,500 bears live in the park, and they can be found at all elevations. The bears are most active during the early morning and late evening hours in the spring and summer. Be on the lookout when you are out hiking on the trails, and do not approach or feed black bears. Just remember bears are wild animals and can be unpredictable, so be sure to maintain a safe distance and do not approach a bear!

If you want to stay close to these places where you can see black bears in the Smoky Mountains, check out all of our cabins in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge today!