Want to see a variety of animals in their natural habitat? Look no further than the Great Smoky National Park! Cades Cove, Cataloochee, and the Roaring Trail Motor Nature Trail all offer an abundance of beautiful wildlife to visitors. The park is home to sixty-five mammal species, over two hundred varieties of birds, numerous fish, and over eighty types of reptiles and amphibians.
The park itself is a protected area for a plethora of animals. Along with black bear, who can be spotted at every elevation in the park, elk have been reintroduced into the park as well as Peregrine Falcons. Protected animals such as river otter and the Red Cockaded Woodpecker thrive in the Great Smoky National Park. Fish, salamanders, and other amphibians inhabit the rivers and streams of the park as well.
Cades Cove is an eleven-mile loop road in the Park. Visitors may tour via automobile, but the area also offers hiking trails and opportunities for biking. Because the park is a protected area for endangered species, expect to see a huge variety of animals. White-tail deer and black bears are plentiful. In fact, approximately 1,500 bears live in the park! Not only can you expect to see deer and bears, you may see protected species such as the northern flying squirrel, Canada Warbler, Smoky Madtom, and Peregrine Falcons. Two notable hiking trails include the shorter Cades Cove Nature Trail and the longer five mile-roundtrip trail to Abrams Falls. Coyotes, turkeys, and deer are often found in the open valley in Cades Cove. Bears are spotted throughout the area also at all times of the day.
The Cataloochee area also boasts of an open valley area where deer, elk, bear, and other wildlife can be seen. Visitors are advised that the best time to view animals in the valley is early morning and evening. The Cataloochee also boasts hiking trails such as the Little Cataloochee Trail and the Boogerman Trail.
The entrance of the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail offers as much natural beauty as the five-mile trails itself. Get out of the car and walk on the Noah “Bud” Ogle self-guiding tour. You can also veer off on to the Rainbow Falls area to view wildlife around numerous waterfalls. Back in your vehicle, the Roaring Fork trail is a little over five miles long, and several mountain streams and an old-growth forest are home to numerous wildlife as well.
Not up for the national park? Visit Ober Gatlinburg’s Wildlife Encounter to view deer, elk, turtles, and raccoons! Also featured is an underwater viewing area where river otters play. Something else to consider is the nocturnal exhibit for animals who are more apt to come out at night. Finally, consider the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont and the Appalachian Highlands Science and Learning Center for some one-on-one encounters with wildlife.
Numerous opportunities exist for visitors to the Smokies! Whether you prefer first-person encounters with animals or the view behind your car window, there are tons of places to see beautiful animals in and around Gatlinburg!