Wildlife in The Great Smoky Mountains
While visiting Gatlinburg, TN and experiencing the natural beauty of the mountains, it is important to make sure you also experience the wildlife in the Great Smoky Mountains. There are many places to go to view wildlife in the mountains, but two of the most popular places to view black bear, white-tailed deer and turkeys are open areas such as Cades Cove and Cataloochee Valley.
Cades Cove is a wide open valley surrounded by mountains on all sides and is one of the most popular destinations to view wildlife in The Great Smokies. Large flocks of white-tailed deer are seen frequently bounding through the tall grass, and sightings of coyote, ground hog, wild turkey, raccoon, skunk , and even black bear are regularly reported. Cades Cove was historically a popular hunting area for Cherokee Indians for hundreds of years. The area was first settled by Europeans sometime between 1818 and 1821. By 1830 the population of the area had already grown close to 300. Cades Cove has the biggest variety of historic landmarks and buildings of any area in The Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
Along the main road running through Cades Cove, there are many historic structures such as churches, a working grist mill, barns, log homes, and other 18th and 19th century structures. This 11 mile one-way loop road circles the area and gives you the opportunity to sightsee and your own pace. Some people tour Cades Cove in a couple hours, but make sure you allot most of your day to view the cove! There are also walking trails that give you the opportunity to get closer to nature. There are many trails that start in Cades Cove, including the 5 mile trail (round-trip) to Abrams Falls and the shorter Cades Cove Nature Trail. Longer day-hikes to the famous Thunderhead Mountain and Rocky Top also begin in the cove. Camping is also permitted in Cades Cove, but you must first register with the visitors center. Cades Cove offers one of the best opportunities to view wildlife in the Great Smoky Mountains, whether you are on vacation or looking for something to do on the weekends.
Cataloochee Valley is amidst the most rugged mountains in the southeastern US. The valley is surrounded by 6,000 foot peaks and was historically the largest and most prosperous settlements in what is known today as The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Around 1,200 people lived in The Cataloochee Valley in the early 1900s, and most of the residents made their living simply by farming, apple growing, and tourism by boarding fishermen and other vacationers to the mountains. Today, visitors can enjoy seeing deer, elk, turkey, and other native wildlife. Many of the elk in the Cataloochee Valley were introduced a few years ago and are closely watched and protected by the National Park Service. Every spring, visitors have the amazing opportunity to view the baby elk calves making their first appearance in the valley with their mothers. Much like Cades Cove, there are many trails for hiking and biking in the valley.
Cataloochee Creek and its many tributaries are nationally known for their large populations of wild river trout. Fly fishing is allowed in the creeks and streams in the valley, but all fishermen must comply to park service rules and regulations. Wild river trout from The Great Smoky Mountains and surrounding areas are served all over the United States, and many people travel to the mountains just to try their hand at catching these famous (and delicious) river trout!
Wildlife viewing in Gatlinburg and the Great Smokies is a great way to experience the southeastern mountains while visiting the Gatlinburg area. There is no better place to stay than The Glenstone Lodge if you are planning on experiencing nature and viewing the vast wildlife of the Great Smoky Mountains. The Glenstone Lodge in Gatlinburg, TN is situated amidst one of the most beautiful places in the southeast and puts you close to many attractions and outdoor activities. Ask the friendly staff at The Glenstone Lodge how they can help you make your Gatlinburg vacation the experience of a lifetime!