The Great Smoky Mountain National Park proudly preserves a blended but colorful history of human and wildlife. Located between Tennessee and North Carolina, there have been a countless number of species to come and go. Some have even returned to the park after being previously driven out. Today, however, taking a journey around all areas of the land will prove astounding at the sight of such a varied exhibit of nature.
The most popular species in the Smoky Mountains is the American Black Bear. In fact, these mountains provide one of the most substantial conservation areas for the bear – among other wildlife. Around 1,500 black bears roam, making that a mathematical average of two bears for every mile. Be wary around these creatures, as they tend to be dangerous. If caught in the vicinity of one of these bears remain calm and don’t move.
Other animals calling the Smoky Mountains their home include: groundhogs, chipmunks, white-tail deer, elk, river otters, and a variety of squirrels. These mountains also serve as a vital breeding area for hundreds of different bird species such as the Canada Warbler and the Peregrine Falcon. Higher elevations are shelter to mammals such as the Northern Flying Squirrel and the Common Raven. This alone has helped bring some animal classes away from the fringe of extinction.
“Salamander Capital of the World” is a reputable name for these Appalachian-region mountains. At least 30 types of these amphibians live here. In addition there are upwards of 70 different categories of fish swimming about the maze of creeks. Trout, bass, and smaller families like minnows travel these waters. Recent efforts have been made on behalf of the park to reintroduce brook trout.
Another area of the park worth visiting is Cades Cove, found on the Tennessee side of the range. A loop travels through it for an impressive 11 miles. There are abundant black bears here just like its Smoky counterpart. Further examples of life in the cove are nocturnal bobcats, red and gray foxes, coyotes, and raccoons. Beavers and otters were once eradicated from the territory but new attempts have brought them back.
The Smoky Mountains are an oasis for wildlife of all types. Just one trip will guarantee a glance at such a marvel of life. The park’s effort to conserve nature and restore its once bursting amount of critters is admirable, and definitely one driving reason to visit. A side-note for those planning their next expedition here in search of this amazing array of animals: it might prove a bit chillier, but the winter lends the best visibility with bare branches encompassing the forest.