Where Do Bears Hibernate in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park?

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Black bear cub playing on pile of woodHave you ever seen a Smoky Mountain black bear? When you visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you’ll most likely be keeping your eyes open for any sighting of a black bear. Many people don’t know that our black bears have a hibernation schedule that is a bit different than the northern bears. Where do bears go when they’re looking for sleep, though?

The bears in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are looking for larger tree cavities to prepare as a den. Bears typically search for an area that is 20 to 60 feet off the ground.

Why do the bears like to hide above the ground?

The bears like to hide out inside the tree as opposed to creating a den on the ground. This way, the bears don’t have to deal with hikers or any disturbances in the park. If you come across a sleeping bear, leave it alone and treat it as if it were awake. Keep your distance!

How do the bears find holes in the trees?

The hollow areas in the trees are formed from tree decay and lightning. Smoky Mountain Black bears search for a hole that is not much larger than themselves, so they can trap the heat inside while they sleep.

What will you see inside a bear’s den?

Male black bears tend to pile up leaves and curl up. Pregnant female black bears spend extra time creating their den, including grass with the leaves, which will hold more warmth. Many people even say that the den can sometimes look like a giant bird’s nest.

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For more information about black bears and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, take a look at Visit My Smokies’ website dedicated to all things Smoky Mountains.

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