Wildlife in the Smokies National Park is abundant, and the vigilant or patient visitor can see various types of wildlife in almost any place in the National Park. Wild turkey and whitetail deer are the most likely to be seen, and the best times for a chance to see wildlife is early mornings and late afternoons. However, in Cades Cove (the most visited part of the Park) you are likely to see wildlife at anytime. Hundreds of acres are open fields and meadows, so there is little to block your view. However, the woods to your right are teeming with wildlife all along Cades Cove 11-mile loop road and the patient viewer will be rewarded as well.
The really lucky visitor can see one of the approximately 800 black bears that are native to the area. A few words of caution regarding the bears however: In the spring, the females might have cubs with them and they are naturally very protective of their bear cubs. Do not try to approach too closely--you run the risk of being mauled. Two people have died from encounters with black bears in the Park. If you simply "must" have photo, use a longer lens on your camera (not the default 50mm lens that comes standard on most cameras). The best policy would be to simply take the "memory" of having seen a bear rather than risk injury.
Elk were re-introduced to the Smokies a few years ago, so you also have the prospect of seeing one of these elegant and stunning creatures. Cataloochee, on the North Carolina side of the Park, offers a good opportunity for viewing these animals.
We've spotted a few foxes, but they are very shy and your spotting these creatures will likely be fleeting and rare. All of the wildlife in the Park are protected, so while they are still generally wary of humans, you're chances of spotting wildlife during your Smokies vacation are very good.
Elk • Black Bears • Whitetail Deer • Cataloochee • Smokey Mountains National Park