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black bear in the smoky mountains

How to See Black Bears in the Smoky Mountains Without Hiking

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Who says you have to hike through the mountains to see the bears? Your family is counting on seeing a bear during your Smoky Mountain vacation, but spotting a black bear in the national park isn’t always guaranteed. Don’t worry, though, there are actually a few places where you can see bears without having to hike. Learn about the best places to see black bears in the Smoky Mountains without hiking:

1. Three Bears General Store

Three Bears General Store in Pigeon ForgeThree Bears General Store is the only Pigeon Forge shop where you can see and feed live bears throughout the day, at your convenience! Open from 10 a.m. until dusk, the bear habitat at Three Bears General Store is a great way to spend a little time enjoying the black bears without having to hike through the mountains. Make sure you stop at the Pigeon Forge shop during feeding hours to visit the bears and feed them a snack!

2. Ober Gatlinburg Wildlife Encounter

Another sure place to spot black bears in the Smoky Mountains is at Ober Gatlinburg! This popular attraction has a Wildlife Encounter, where visitors can see a black bear family, Minnie BJ, Holly, and Chief. Also at the Wildlife Encounter are river otters, bobcats, a fox, and birds of prey. While you’re there, be sure to enjoy other exciting parts of this attraction, like an alpine slide, mountain coaster, ice bumper cars, and more.

3. Cades Cove

bear in cades coveThe two attractions we mentioned above are sure places to spot black bears in the Smoky Mountains, but sometimes nothing beats the excitement you get when you see one out in the wild! One of the best places to do so is Cades Cove. Plus, you don’t have to hike to see them! Cades Cove has an 11-mile, one-way loop road that offers views of the valley, mountains, and wildlife. You have a great chance to see not only black bears, but white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and more.

4. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is another great scenic drive in the Smoky Mountains where you can spot black bears! It’s a 5.5-mile long winding road that takes you through the forest. You’ll want to keep your eyes on the trees as you drive along this road — that’s where the black bears can most often be spotted! You can also see historic structures, glimpses of old-growth forest, rushing mountain streams, and even a roadside waterfall.

Now that you know the best places to visit to spot Smoky Mountain black bears without hiking, we bet you can’t wait to start planning your trip! For more information on wildlife viewing in the Smokies, take a look at “Where and When to Spot Your Favorite Smoky Mountain Wildlife.”