With Gatlinburg being so close to Great Smoky Mountain National Park, you can expect to enjoy plenty of wildlife watching experiences. The region is full of unique animals that roam around the many parks. Visitors can easily stumble across a critter or two during a hike around the mountain, or you can visit one of the many areas or join a tour that specifically look out for animals. Take a look at the best spots for wildlife watching right here in Gatlinburg:
Wildlife Viewing at Great Smoky Mountain National Park
If you want to view wildlife on your own your best bet will be over at the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. This massive national park is the biggest attraction right here in Gatlinburg. The area is known for a variety of animals that can often be seen in the park including elk, white-tailed deer, black bear, turkeys, raccoons, woodchucks, and much more. While there are plenty of animals to see actually finding them can be a little difficult. The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is covered with dense forest that makes wildlife watching more difficult than usual. There are open areas within the park that can make it easier. These areas include Cataloochee and Cades Cove that are perfect for a day hike before reaching your destination. Motorists can enjoy a leisurely drive along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail that often yields sightings of bears and elk.
When to Look for Them
Now that you know where to look, you may want to know the best times to look out for local wildlife. Many of the creatures found inside the Great Smoky Mountain National Park are active at night. This means that your best bet at catching a viewing of an animal or two during park hours is in the morning and evening. Visitors should have binoculars on hand that will allow them to see the animals from a distance. Many of the animals are cautious of humans and will remain in hiding. Visitors are always highly encouraged to never approach or feed an animal. Doing so may lead the animal to no longer fearing human interactions; this can lead to possible situations that can become unpredictable and causing harm to the animal. Make sure to sit back patiently and remain quiet for your best chance to see these incredible animals out in the open. Animals may also be easier to spot in the winter season as the tree foliage has completely fallen. Plan your trip accordingly if wildlife viewing is at the top of your activity list.
Another great wildlife viewing that can be done in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is bird watching. The park sees over 240 different species of birds that frequent the area, many of which are native to the state of Tennessee. Different areas of the park will also feature different types of birds to look out for. The higher elevations of the treetops will have incredible birds such as the great horned owl, red-breasted nuthatch, and other birds of prey. The month of September often has broad-winged hawks soaring around looking for their next meal. Cades Cove is known for incredible wildlife viewing and you can probably see wild turkeys in the area. These flightless birds travel in packs and can always be heard when nearby.
Guided Tours of the Area
Heading out on your own is always a fun and exciting way to see local wildlife in and around Gatlinburg. However, if you are a novice, it might be difficult finding the areas we have indicated. The best way to get to know the park better is by booking a guided tour. While most tours of the area do not specifically provide wildlife viewing tours these hiking tours can help you traverse the area with a guide. A Walk in the Woods offers award-winning tours of the Smoky Mountains. Their selection of half-day hikes takes you to areas such as Blue Creek Cascades, Eastern Hemlocks, and Clingman’s Dome among others. Expect to be out on your hike for approximately 4 to 5 hours on each trek. Your tour guide will know everything about the area including wildlife that often frequents the trails. Let the trusted professionals help you get to know the area better so you can feel more comfortable wildlife viewing on your own.
Your Time in Gatlinburg
As you can see, there are plenty of ways for you to get out and see the incredible wildlife that live in and around Gatlinburg. The best way for you to enjoy your stay is by booking one of our vacation rental properties here in the area. You will have access to luxury amenities and spacious homes for a memorable time in the area.