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Black bears are the signature Smoky Mountain wildlife.

Where and When to Spot Your Favorite Smoky Mountain Wildlife

If you’re in the area and want to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you probably want to see Smoky Mountain wildlife. With a diverse animal population, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the perfect place for animal lovers. There are all kinds of species that live in the national park, and people see animals quite a bite when they visit. Here is where and when to spot your favorite Smoky Mountain wildlife:

Animals in the Park

There are all kinds of animals in the Great Smoky Mountains, from small reptiles to large mammals. Keep reading to learn more about these creatures:

Black Bear

Black bear cubs are some of the most popular Smoky Mountain wildlife.Although black bears can be active any time of day, they seem to be out more often during early morning and late evening. In the Smoky Mountains, the bears seem to prefer 6 to 10 am and 3 to 7 pm, as these times are cooler and more peaceful during the spring and summer. Black bears have a dense population in the park, with about 1,500 living in the area. They are omnivores, so they eat plants, berries, nuts, fish, and other animals.


Elk can grow up to 700 pounds, making them one of the largest creatures in the national park. They are most active early in the morning or late in the evening. Before the national park was established, elk thrived in the area. Changing land uses, hunting, and trapping caused elk to be extirpated. To reverse this, the national park Service has reintroduced elk into the Smokies.

White-Tailed Deer

White-tailed deer are very popular Smoky Mountain wildlife.White-tailed deer are another mammal you’re likely to see in the Smokies. Similar to elk, deer are usually active early in the morning or late in the evening. They are known for grazing in open fields, which makes them easier to spot compared to in the woods. Fawns are usually born sometime in June, and these creatures root for foods such as plants, nuts, and acorns.

Wild Turkey

Wild turkeys travel in flocks, so if you happen to spot one, you’ll most likely spot an entire group. They spend most of their time searching the ground for nuts, berries, and insects. You’ll likely not see them in the evenings, as they roost in the trees.


yellow salamanderThe Great Smoky Mountains are known as the salamander capital of the world. There are more than 30 species of salamanders in the national park, which is the most of any other place in the world. There are several lungless salamanders in the area. They enjoy dark, moist areas, and many of them live in water.

Other Animals in the Smokies

There are hundreds of animal species that live in the area. You’ll find all kinds of fish, turtles, and snakes in and around water. Small mammals include raccoons, groundhogs, and squirrels. There are hundreds of bird species, including owls, eagles, wrens, and finches. Plus, you’ll find all kinds of bugs.

Wildlife Safety

It is important that families remember a few safety tips while viewing wildlife in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The key element to keeping park guests and wildlife safe is to keep a safe distance. Always use caution when wildlife is in sight because they are wild animals.

Places Where You Might See Smoky Mountain Wildlife

deer in cades coveAlthough you aren’t definitely going to see animals while you’re in the national park, you can try to visit certain areas where they are seen the most at specific times you know they are active. Most black bear activity is in Cades Cove, Roaring Fork Motor Trail, and along hiking trails. Elk are typically seen in Cataloochee Valley. Open fields in Cades Cove and the Cataloochee Valley are one of the best places to see white-tailed deer early each morning and late each evening. Deer are known to graze right after a rain and on foggy afternoons, so you have more of a chance of spotting them during those times. If you want to catch sight of a wild turkey, try looking closely at the open fields in the valleys near Sugarlands Visitor Center and the Cades Cove Loop Road. Salamanders are likely to be seen near water, especially waterfalls because of the dark, moist environment. Most birds and squirrels are in the woods.

Now you know more about Smoky Mountain wildlife and where you are most likely to see them. Want to know more about their home? Learn all about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park before you’re in town!